Woman Starts School For Kids With Autism - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Mom Starts School For Kids With Autism

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Autism rates are on the rise in the US, with one in 88 children being diagnosed.

In New Jersey, one in every 29 boys has autism. When one mom with two boys couldn't find the right school that was fit for them, she took matters into her own hands.

Nathan and Alexander are sweet, loving boys who love to play and learn. However, as kindergarten approached, mom Karen Misher was having a hard time finding the right place for her six year old twins with autism.

"I started talking about a dream," she told FOX 29's Karen Hepp.

Her dream: a school with all the support her kids needed, plus the chance to make friends with other children in a way that wouldn't overwhelm them.

"I found myself balanced between two worlds of getting specialized education they needed but no interaction with children who had typical language or play skills, or public school that can offer inclusion but with 20 to 30 kids."

Therefore, Karen took the bold move of creating that place, a new school, where her kids could get a step up, a step up academy.

The academy features lots and lots of high fives, personalized one-on-one time, trampolines and hammocks, a whole room for occupational therapy, plus, partnerships with community groups to make friends. They've got all the best practices, the latest technology, the iPads, the smart boards, and the curriculum to get kids on academic level with their peers.

"We incorporate whatever works, and whatever motivates the student in order to teach them the skills to give them opportunity to apply it in larger settings and natural environment," said Misher.

And the natural environment is bucolic, a fieldstone meetinghouse, oak trees, science classes in the outdoors. Karen found the perfect spot for her school on the grounds of Abington Monthly Meeting, and just as importantly, she found a director who shares her vision, Kelley Donohue.

"I've personally worked with dozens of kids who've moved from a restrictive autism support system to full inclusion setting who are now going off to college," said Donohue.

Nathan, Alexander, along with all their new friends are working towards the same milestones as other kindergartners. They won't get there the same way, but they're striving for the same goals, one step up at a time,

"My hope's by the time in 4th grade they can enter into a regular educational setting, fully included," said

And the kids are well on their way. The school is just for kindergartners and first grades this year, but, they plan to expand to preschool next year and add grades as the children get older through 4th grade.

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