A new school will soon mix typical pre-schoolers with autistic children using classroom techniques the founders hope will develop children’s intellect and encourage new teaching styles.
The Slomin Family Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, which will open for pre-school on Aug. 19, opened July 1 for 17 campers 3 to 5 years old. Already, parents say they are thrilled with the nonprofit center’s model of having children with autism play with “normal children,” and vice versa.
“It’s so crucial for Sami to learn from children who are developing typically,” said Jamie Tamim, of Boynton Beach, mother of Sami, 5. “When he sees how other children act, he wants to copy it.”
This model, known as “inclusion,” is offered in a limited number of public and private schools. At other schools, children with disabilities are placed in separate classrooms.
Autism encompasses an assortment of neurological disorders that may include repetitive behaviors, difficulties with social interaction, speech delays and inability to use the imagination. About one in 110 children is diagnosed with the disability.
Public schools often have limited staff and classrooms to modify behavior using the latest research, said Jack Scott, executive director of the FAU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. He said new studies show techniques such as relaxation reduce autistic children’s stress levels, but many public schools have not incorporated such new discoveries into the curriculum.
The Slomin Center will have pre-school, after-school enrichment for ages 3 to 17, support groups, therapists and programs for 18- to 25-year-olds, all on the campus of the former American Orchid Society headquarters near the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens. A large greenhouse and pool are under construction for additional enrichment.
Barbara Christensen, of Lake Clarke Shoes, said her granddaughter, Kylie, 3, loves the camp. She said she was frustrated with Kylie’s public pre-school, which placed her in an autism classroom that did not meet her needs. She wants her to be in a mainstream classroom when it’s time for kindergarten.
“She needs role models,” Christensen said. “I feel like they fill a gap the other schools don’t.”
Parent Cheryl Bickley, of Boynton Beach, agrees. She said her daughter, Carleigh, is getting a good education at the Palm Beach School for Autism, a Lake Worth charter school, but she said Slomin offers a different model.
“They work with the family as a whole as opposed to just the kid,” Bickley said. “Carleigh is paired up with a typical child. It’s so good for her to experience that.”
The center was founded by Sandy Slomin, a former kindergarten teacher who was deeply affected by the birth 13 years ago of a family friend who has cerebral palsy. Slomin, ofDelray Beach, got acquainted with services for the disabled in South Florida and decided a one-stop center for families of the autistic was lacking.
“It’s totally consumed my life,” Slomin said. “Every single person,
Edición 10 aldea Magazine