Kristi's Kids

Aug 14, 2013 1:00 AM by Kristi Tedesco

New school for students with autism

TUCSON - New this school year, there is a special place for students with autism.

Autism is a brain disorder that's impacting more and more families. In fact, 1-in-88 children fall somewhere on spectrum.

And for some of those kids a regular classroom doesn't work due to too much noise and other distractions.

It's why Intermountain Academy has started a program just for them which will serve students Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade. The school is operating out of Howenstine High School one of the closed schools in TUSD.

Kymonni Daniels was diagnosed with autism when she was three.

"We thought she was deaf, because she wasn't communicating, she wasn't talking," says Phoebe Daniels, Kymonni's mother.

Traditional classes aren't a good fit. She needs something different.

"There's not much in Tucson. I searched."

So they were exited to find Intermountain Academy. Cyndee Wing is the Education Program Specialist and she tells Kristi's Kids they have a customized approach.

"We have One-on-Ones in our school."

That means one paraprofessional paired to each student which creates a strong relationship.

"They feel the needs of the student really well. Like if the student needs a break, they can give them a break," Wing explains. "When they're ready to come back to work, they can come back to work.

It's common for kids with autism to shy away. They're often excluded in normal settings.

"Social interaction is really important for our students."

The small class size and one-on-one attention helps the students through meltdowns: those unpredictable mood changes associated with autism

"Getting them to play together in an experience like that after the fourth day of school, fifth day of school? Amazing! Amazing! Yes!" says Wing.

It's the ideal environment for Kymonni.

"That's my main concern because I know that, once we get past the behaviors, then she'll be able to actually learn," her mom says.

It is important to note this program is not meant to replace the system, of including kids with special needs in regular schools. It supplements those programs.

"We're all in this to do the best things that we can for children," says Wing.

And good things are already happening. August 1st was the first day at Intermountain.

Kymonni's mom already is seeing progress after the first week of school.

"They've also actually helped her to write the letter K and even say it which she hasn't done that. So that's a first."

She also tells Kristi's Kids Kymonni is a lot happier after school.

Intermountain Academy has room for more and they plan on expanding. Click here for more information.

The contact information for Intermountain Academy enrollment is:

(520) 721-1887, Ext. 5298


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