Access Academy is a school specifically designed for severely autistic kids. They're only operating summer enrichment courses now, but plan to open a full-time school in the fall.
Their goal is to teach school-age kids with severe autism how to better communicate.
Many of the kids are non-verbal and are unable to express themselves in a public school setting. Founder and principal Casey DePriest says they use one-on-one teachers and supported communication techniques to help them.
"It's really mind-blowing, but it's also really really exciting to see that the supports that we're using are making a huge difference in these students' abilities to be seen as thinking people within these very disorganized bodies that they have."
DePriest says many of the parents have been excited about the progress their kids have made. She says they're also glad a school exists for their kids, who may miss out on much-needed therapies during summer vacation.
For many of the parents, DePriest says this is the first time their kid has been helped with the assumption that they're competent. Access Academy assumes all the kids at their school are learning and absorbing information, but just can't communicate what they know.
They focus on mind-body connection therapies, helping the kids make their bodies do what their brains want to.
The school will continue these therapies during the fall. It is classified as a private, not charter school, although they will be able to accept district money when districts believe a student will be better served at their school.
For more information about their therapies, cost and how you can donate to the non-profit school, you can check out their Facebook page and website.