Unique approach helps older students with autism excel

- The statistics are startling. Around one in six children in the U.S. has a developmental disability. This ranges from a mild delay, like a speech and language impairment, to more severe cases, like cerebral palsy and autism. Many of these children feel isolated in the classroom. FOX 26 News found a school in Houston that's offering them a chance that they never previously had.

Before he transferred to Monarch School, Logan says he felt bullied and misunderstood. 

"I spent my freshman year in public school and it wasn't very nice," says Logan. "I've had a lot of experiences with bullying. I have mental limits but when I came here - I had a fantastic first year."

Josephine says she was constantly in trouble before she transferred to Monarch School. 

"It wasn't good for me, because I misbehaved in a lot of schools, and it was hard for me to focus in school," says Josephine. "I was frustrated and I didn't learn anything, and it was hard, because it was not fair to me." 

Josephine has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which makes it hard for her to concentrate. She's happy that students at Monarch even spend class time learning the importance of inclusion, a place where EVERYONE belongs. 

Educators at Monarch concentrate on helping students who have a tough time in a typical classroom. 

"Some of the differences we serve are primarily children on the autism spectrum disorder, but we do serve a great number of ADHD, we work with traumatic brain injuries, Tourette Syndrome, anxiety, mood disorders, and pervasive developmental delays, as well," explains Dr. Christina Navarro. 

"Here, people want to serve the kids and the families, and they care about each very deeply," says Julia Wiens, a professional educator at Monarch. Students who vary in age from 12 to 20 years old are separated by capability, versus how old they are, and fall into the Butterfly Program at Monarch. 

Logan says all of his teachers spent time getting to know him, learning how to teach him. 

"Once they know you, the school immediately starts finding what are your strong points and weak points and they mostly exercise your strong points and try to strengthen and exercise your weak points," explains Logan. 

"It's hard not to have positive feelings here," says Shivali Dhruv with the Integrative Learning Practice Team at Monarch. "Partly, it helps keep them motivated in doing their work to see and feel this energy. A lot of them are reactive to our feelings, so when we have positivity around them, it helps them feel more calm and safe in this environment."

They work on the academics too, and Logan is thriving because of it. He pronounces words that we can't even spell, and it was special to see how much that means to him. He says he loves math now, where he struggled in the subject before. All because other students treat him fairly and teachers took the time to figure out how to help him. Other students echo the same thoughts. 

"I feel happy when I'm here," says Josephine with excitement. Just a small taste of the magic at Monarch.        

For more information, http://www.monarchschool.org/.

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