Offering Individualized

Educational Programs For K-12 Students

10 Years Of Putting Kids First In Every Decision

This school year kicks off our 10th academic year! Opened in 2013, we welcomed just 24 students and 4 teachers. Since then, we’ve grown to over 640 students and 56 teachers. Our campuses offer a wide variety of classroom programs for students in Kindergarten – 12th grade and beyond. Our specialized supports are able to meet the needs of most children and young adults on the autism spectrum. So where did it all come from? 

It began with a family and a dream of providing the type of education that our students deserve. The Newcomb family created their company EAS to provide special education services to students at charter schools around the Valley. Laura and her team worked their hardest to serve their students and, when needed, find new schools for them. Over time, it became apparent that there weren’t a lot of options for autistic students who needed highly specialized support. After one particularly challenging site visit, Laura knew that she needed to do something. She had a long talk with her husband, Don, about her dream to create a place that was truly a fit for her students. As a family, Laura and Don decided to put together a team and get started. Not too long afterward, her dream came true. 

     

Our first location was in Gilbert, AZ. It featured big classrooms, a great outdoor space, and lots of natural light. Right from the start, the students and staff were learning and having fun together. Both Don and Laura were excited to see the growth and enthusiasm from everyone. They had created a school with a mission to help all students with autism to be equipped and able to achieve academic, social, and behavioral excellence in an environment centered on strong character values. It was not long before Don found a way to communicate how they planned to do this by developing the Building Blocks that we still use today. 

                 

The Building Blocks can be seen on every one of our campuses today. They describe the most essential parts of Autism Academy’s programs and provide our staff with a place to start when supporting our students. 

Building Block #1 – Kids First in Every Decision

This one is where it all started. Every single thing we do is intended to meet students’ needs and help them grow.  Some key decisions that are still in place today include: 

* Small class sizes so that students can focus and build relationships with others who have similar needs and skills. 

* Lots of adults in every classroom so that instruction can be provided in small groups.  Most classrooms have 1 adult for every 4 students. 

* As students grow, they can become a part of the team. Work experiences and community-based learning are provided so that they learn the skills they need to be successful in the real world. 

* New programs and classes are developed every year to meet the students’ needs as they grow. This includes the creation of an online campus to provide support to students across the nation that learn best in their home environment or are unable to attend an in-person program. 

Building Block #2 – Students Are Friends With Each Other and Welcome Each Other With Open Arms 

Many kids with autism struggle to make and keep friends. Autism Academy has made sure that we are a place where they can spend time with people much like themselves and build relationships that can last a lifetime. Some of the social opportunities we offer are: 

* Quarterly family events like pool parties, concerts/art shows, trunk-or-treat, dances, and so much more! 

* Social Emotional Learning is a crucial part of development. We utilize curriculum developed specifically for students who have autism by experts in the field of child development. 

* Regular social times including recess for younger students and scheduled break times for older students. Staff encourage them to talk and play together. 

* A bully-free environment with positive behavior supports. Students receive praise and rewards all day long and learn that the people around them value their accomplishments. We also have a behavior team that can help support students with more challenging behavioral needs. 

Building Block #3 – The School is Quiet and Students Are Working Hard To Do Their Best. 

* The environment is organized with students’ needs in mind. Students have access to sensory rooms on every campus to provide much-needed breaks and sensory help.  

* Classrooms are clean and organized to maximize students’ ability to focus. We even teach our students to take pride in their school by completing helpful jobs around the campus and cleaning up after themselves during the day. 

* Students are given lots of opportunities to earn rewards so that they can work for the things they love the most. Accomplishments are recognized and celebrated no matter how small. 

* Instruction starts where they are at and moves at their pace. We know that every one of our students learns differently and we give them the time and help they need. 

Building Block #4 – Parent See Amazing Improvement in Their Child 

* Annual IEP meetings and parent-teacher conferences are held so that parents stay a part of the educational process at every step of the way. 

* Parents receive daily communication from their child’s teachers. They always know what their child is working on and how they are progressing. When parents have questions, there are lots of ways for them to connect with their teachers and administrators. 

* Many students stay with us for years. We even have some that have been with us since the beginning and preparing to graduate! 

* Our graduates have gone on to a variety of places. Some have continued their learning at community colleges and trade schools. Others have joined the workforce and even gone on to work with other students as teachers or paraprofessionals. Still others have joined Day Treatment Adult (DTA) programs including one recently opened by EAS in Gilbert, AZ. 

We invite our community to join us in celebrating 10 years of serving students and families. We would to thank all of the staff, parents, and students who have become a part of the Autism Academy family. The entire Autism Academy family would also like to thank the Newcombs for creating such a wonderful place for us all. We’ve been putting kids first for 10 years and we hope for many more!