In 1957, The Hope School first opened its doors in a modest house in Springfield, Illinois. It was the end of a long journey for Hope School founders Dr. and Mrs. Charles E. Jordan who had searched far and wide for a place to educate their daughter who had multiple disabilities. They wanted Judith Ann to have the chance to reach her full potential, but no school in the United States could serve. The need was so apparent to the Jordan’s that they decided to create a school they could never find and give Hope to their daughter and thousands of other children with similar challenges.
Hope gained the attention of President John F. Kennedy and ignited change in disability policy and services throughout the United States. President Kennedy named Dr. Jordan to the President’s Council on Disabilities and other governmental councils, where he helped shape a new reality for children and adults living with disabilities. At the same time, the Special Olympics were founded in Chicago. Illinois was on the leading edge of change and The Hope School was at the forefront. The Hope School emerged as a provider of educational and residential services. It became a place where children facing extraordinary cognitive, physical and emotional challenges could learn and thrive.
Today, Hope has become more than a school. It is leading the development of new methods to educate, treat and care for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities. In 2003, Hope was called on by the State to help create a statewide network to help increase community awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder and to increase family access to early diagnosis and appropriate treatments. Today, The Autism Clinic at Hope helps children and families live happy, meaningful lives.