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INTRODUCTION: 8 CRITICAL GROWTH COMPONENTS IN AUTISM EDUCATION Nationwide Research-Based Resources for Autism-Only Schools

By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen

The Autism Academy for Education and Development continues to experience calculated growth annually.
Owner, Laura Newcomb is building academic bridges, meeting social needs, and making education for children with Autism more meaningful nationwide. The school provides online resources to help parents, educators and schools accelerate and advance learning strategies and techniques. Her passion for helping the Autism community launched to a national platform when she started the Autism Academy in 2013.
The mission of the school is to assist every student with Autism to be equipped and able to achieve academic, social and behavioral excellence in an environment centered on strong character values.

AAED is one of the nation’s leading experts in Autism education.


The Arizona-based Autism-only school has nearly 180 employees, over 400 students, 6 facilities and 4 campuses statewide. Their vision of keeping kid’s first, results in measurable and calculated growth. AAED administrators strategically publish online shared values to strengthen Autism education throughout the country. As a result, the ongoing weekly blog series contains 8 critical growth components that is scheduled for weekly releases at

Critical Growth Components in Autism Education Blog Series:

Week 1. Independent Living with Jennifer Sevier
Week 2. Autism Academic Awareness with Kimberly Baltzley
Week 3. Living Your Best Life with Katie Nieder
Week 4. Positive Behavior Support with Darnell Cherry
Week 5. Curriculum, Coaching and Culture with Shawn Davis
Week 6. Character Building and Development with Derrick Jamerson
Week 7. Fostering A Fun Atmosphere with Carrie Hatanaka
Week 8. Speech, Occupational and Animal Therapies with Kalona Newcomb

The school is consistently expanding its reach, with 8 key administrators offering experience and expertise in various new roles. AAED has a 10-point philosophy and 4 building blocks that remain the foundational principles of the organization.

1. The belief that every child is exceptional.
2. Striving to improve the lives of each student, their families, and communities.
3. Addressing the needs of every student academically, socially, and behaviorally.
4. Advancing character and social skills program that provide a solid life-skills foundation.
5. Ensuring that students have the groundwork to function as valued, productive, and successful individuals.
6. Empowering students to fulfill their potential and contribute to their communities.
7. Maintaining the highest level of commitment to provide students with the best education possible.
8. Upholding character programs designed to prevent bullying and teach anti-bullying strategies.
9. Providing a proven philosophical structure that empowers students to attain their highest level of academic and social achievement.
10. Delivering support and resources needed to allow each student to flourish in a strong values-based environment that focuses on compassion.

In addition to this applied philosophy, AAED is supported by 4 pillars called building blocks that are guiding principles used solely at AAED. The growth components that will be outlined in detail over the next 8 weeks promote success strategies to educate students with Autism in any setting. These 8 critical growth components in Autism education is information for use to holistically enrich the Autism community.