BEAVERTON — Molly Wahlgren, a third grader at Holy Trinity School, triumphantly received her first Communion from Father Dave Gutmann in early May. Molly has a diagnosis of autism. Her parents, Anne and Kyle Wahlgren, didn’t think Catholic education was in the grand design.

“When Molly got her autism diagnosis at four years old, the prognosis wasn’t great,” said Anne. “I didn’t think sacraments or Catholic school would be a possibility.”

Holy Trinity’s Learning Resource program has grown each year as more families seek Catholic education for their children with learning differences. Welcoming Molly, with her pink headphones and menagerie of stuffed animals, is all part of the long term plan for Holy Trinity.

“We want to say yes whenever possible and see what sort of unique system we can create to have and keep students in Catholic school — half days, one-on-one assistants, hybrid home school and Catholic school,” said Ashley Sheridan, principal of Holy Trinity. “We are open to trying it for the success of students and family.”

Early in 2021, the Wahlgrens and Sheridan met to discuss Molly’s en-trance into the school and plan for the support Molly would need. Molly’s start at Holy Trinity has been gradual, yet her growth has been rapid. She started the school year with a one-to-one assistant, some full days, some half days and even some days off when she needed them. She has an individualized learning plan and a modified schedule of classes to fit her needs. The plan gets reviewed and changed frequently depending on what Molly is ready for.

Constant communication between third grade teacher Christa Keys and Molly’s parents is one key to the success. Another is the partnership between Holy Trinity, Molly’s Early Autism Specialists and Molly’s other medical providers. Finally, Holy Trinity’s team of 25 teachers are essential via their commitment to the mission of serving all learners in Catholic school, those on target and those who need help reaching the target.

First Communion was a meaningful and major victory involving Molly, Jesus and lots of other people.

“This morning, Molly sat with the other children with no accommodations other than having a stuffy in the pew and wearing the head-phones,” said Anne. “Being a participating member of the Body of Christ is our deepest desire for Molly. She has exceeded my wildest expectations so I guess it’s time to dream bigger.”