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Special School District of St. Louis County

Student Improves with
Homebound Services

Student Austin Combs has made great strides physically and mentally after undergoing serious brain surgery earlier this fall. 

“Austin is slowly getting back to his pre-surgery personality,” said Shannon Combs, Austin’s mother. “He has been progressing very well, and every day we see improvements.”

Austin received homebound services from SSD for five weeks directly following his surgery.

SSD provides instruction in a home, hospital or other setting for students whose needs cannot be appropriately met in the school setting, due to medical or other reasons.

Post-surgery, Austin worked with SSD homebound services teacher Ben Mehringer. They met several times a week at a library near Austin’s home.

“We work to care for the whole student and develop not only core academics, but also social skills, personal confidence and self-esteem,” said Mehringer.

According to Mehringer, Austin’s social development continued to grow through his interpersonal interactions at the library. “He’s been working on smiling, gently touching, remembering attributes of people, developing his sense of humor and connecting through common interests like the St. Louis Cardinals playoff games.”

Austin and his teacher worked on core academics while mixing in experiential learning. “One example of experiential and interdisciplinary learning is when we purposely interacted socially with people around us, like the workers and patrons at the library,” said Mehringer.

They also mixed learning by observing and discussing the environment. “Austin would collect and study a variety of autumn leaves in the neighborhood,” said Mehringer. “He would bring back a pocketful of leaves from our short walk and identify the originating trees in our nature books.”

And by observing different birds’ communication patterns, Austin was able to see how that communication differs from humans. Mehringer said Austin’s self-confidence increased and he was encouraging others to share their own talents and gifts.

Austin returned to his school – Selvidge Middle in the Rockwood School District – full time in November and his teachers and parents are seeing improvements each day.

“He is receiving physical therapy and occupational therapy services to gain back some old skills and increase his strength,” said Shannon Combs. “Each day it gets better and better. Austin really benefited from homebound services post surgery. He has special needs, but to us he is EXTRA special!”

Mehringer agrees. “We need more people like Austin in this world to remind us of the true meaning of life,” he said.
Austin Combs
Austin Combs
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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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