Alison was born shortly after Christmas in 1984. Her first months were wonderful, as she met all the milestones of a newborn infant. This changed at age 3 months with the sudden onset of neonatal seizures. Her condition rapidly worsened over the months that followed. During this time, all her milestones had vanished and she nearly reverted to a newborn state. At age 12 months, as suddenly as the seizures began, they disappeared. Alison began to progress and reach milestones again, but now progress was much slower than normal.
At age 3, Alison had a remarkable year. After delays in all childhood milestones, she began her first steps and was speaking single words. Doctors then diagnosed that she was autistic. About that time her father played the melody to Greig’s Morning Song on the piano while Alison watched. To her father’s surprise, Alison then reached out and played the same melody. Other themes were tried with equal success. In the months that followed, Alison was playing childhood songs. She couldn’t speak the names of songs, but given a few notes she would play the melody.
Alison played the piano by ear during her childhood. She started piano lessons, but could not learn from traditional methods. One day her mother saw the Hi Hopes on TV and told everyone about their performance. Both parents agreed that Hope University would be a great place for Alison. Her father called and spoke to Doris Walker, the school founder. Mrs. Walker was very interested in Alison’s history and musical abilities. She explained that Hope University was for adults who had completed their public education. She advised them to have Alison continue playing by ear and to consider Hope University when she was ready.
After finishing school, Alison worked in a structured work place and moved into a group home. The home was wonderful, but there was something missing. Alison was showing less interest in music and becoming withdrawn. Her workplace hit hard times leaving her idle most days.
Then, the family met a lady who played the piano like an angel. She lived in one of the several group homes affiliated with Alison’s home. When asked about her remarkable abilities, they were informed that she attended Hope University in Anaheim. They knew right away that Alison should be there. The application took the help and patience from many wonderful people. Eventually, they got the call from Hope University with acceptance to the program.
Alison now looks forward to every day at Hope. She calls her parents daily and talks about piano, keyboard, drums, yoga, choir, art, dance and computer classes. She now engages in family conversations. On weekends, without prompting she now sits down at the piano and plays a wide variety of music. She has also taken an interest in playing her guitar that was a gift many years ago but rarely played.
In a very short time, Hope University has given Alison a new perspective on life. She has shown a desire to interact with family and friends. While Alison is now taking her music ability to a new level, more importantly she is taking control of her life in a way that her parents would never have imagined possible a few years ago. This is the true value that Hope University has given to Alison and to all the artists and performers who attend this program.