Gilbert, Arizona – A new school specially designed to teach children with autism is set to open for classes this fall. The school is the latest branch in a charter called Pieceful Solutions and plans to focus solely on students with Aspergers syndrome. As school owner and founder Kami Cothrun told reporter Eric Mungenast of the East Valley Tribune:
“It’s for those kids who have a little bit of autism.”
Like most schools the curriculum will revolve around the Common Core standards with classes such as English, math, reading, social studies, and science as well as electives like Spanish and art. The 6-12th grade school will also offer common high school experiences like prom, homecoming, and a boys basketball team that will compete in a charter league.
Unlike most schools Pieceful Solutions will have classes that teach life skills such as cooking, doing laundry, and making the bed. They will also make use of visual aids. The lesson on making the beds, for example, is comprised of pictures that show how to do each step. Yet the most helpful components of the school are the meltdown prevention rooms, and how they group the students.
Students with autism meltdown when they become overstimulated and lose control of their emotions-which can lead to violent screaming and arm flailing. Cothrun says,
“These kids just explode out of nowhere,”
These rooms give students space to take a break and calm down so meltdowns don’t happen, or happen less often. To maximize the effect they have worry stones students can grip in class, and yoga relaxation techniques they can employ. The classrooms are also grouped by similar quirks students may have to help reduce distractions, and ensure that each student’s requirements are met.
The big drawback-some say-is that like-minded students grouped together might not get the chance to get comfortable with dealing with other types of peers. Cothrun does’t see it that way. Instead, she sees it as a chance to let her students figure out their life in a quieter environment. She says,
“These kids get to be themselves. Why can’t we let these kids be themselves and why can’t we accept them for who they are?”
Classes start July 23.
For more information please go here.
Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead