This morning I was reading the news in preparation for my day, when I came across the announcement in the Deseret News of the opening of the Spectrum Academy High School for Autistic children in North Salt Lake. Intrigued, I read on to learn more. I've heard of it before, as they had a booth at the Autism Autumn Carnival, but I didn't learn a lot about it because my son is far from ready for High School, and we don't yet know what will be awaiting him for Kindergarten this next year (we find out in the coming months).
The Spectrum Academy is a Charter School currently serving Kindergarten through 8th Grade, specifically for Autistic children. They are located just West of Redwood Road and at about 600 North. Because it's a charter school, they have funding from the State and have flexibility in their teaching methods. While I am a supporter of public school in general, there are situations like disabilities where a special charter school is very useful. I just have to look back at the incessant bullying and teasing that my older brother went through in public school to know that a special charter school for autistic children would be just what my son would need. So, I started checking out their website.
On thing I absolutely love is the curriculum information listed for each grades, so parents can see what their children are using, and can tailor their own home experiences to reinforce their learning. This is what I would expect from the public school system anyway, though it may be a little difficult to locate. Handbooks for both the students and teachers are available as well.
What's more impressive is the flexibility the teachers have in managing their student's success. Gone are the rigid rules about sitting up straight, not using toys as a tactile stimulant while learning, etc. Children are able to take breaks when they need to in order to gain control of their attention when necessary. The grade system is based on ability, not age, so there is no worries about being left behind while going through the school system. Wouldn't it be nice if all schools were like that, as they were once?
All in all, I was very impressed with the news of the Spectrum Academy. It's a bit of a way out of my way to work, but I think I could make a special trip to get my son there if need be. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of fee details, and how much fees would cost. It being Winter Break (I don't know if they can call it Christmas and New Year's break anymore), I can't get firm information on that, but once I do, I will post it. Until then, this is definitely a school and school system that needs to be watched! I see this becoming a more common situation as the needs of Autistic children are met.