Science Prep Academy provides unique STEM program for autistic students
March 15, 2018
Science Prep Academy, which opened in August, currently hosts 12 autistic students in grade fifth through ninth and works to provide them with an intimate environment for them to excel in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.
Principal Kenneth Mims says he has tapped into a superpower within autistic students. He says he found that they had an affinity for science as far as problem solving, analytical thinking and general nature and sciences.
“My passion for science transitioned into my passion for educating individuals with autism to become scientists,” Mims says.
The academy focuses not only on STEM education, but also speech and occupational therapy so they have all the skills they need for future STEM jobs. There’s also a focus on health and fitness.
“The role of the speech therapist isn’t just to facilitate the language, get them to talk, get them to use their words,” Owner of Milestone Pediatrics Lyndsey Steele says. “It’s other things like understanding body language, is this person trying to end the conversation, are you standing too close to someone. On the occupational therapy side, it’s more working on self-regulation.”
The teacher to student ration is 3 to 1. Autistic students have shown to perform best when they are learning in smaller class settings. They get to experience an intimate learning environment that they wouldn’t find in a public school.
“Most of them probably wouldn’t have participated in a gym class,” Educational Consultant Calvin Worthen says. “They would’ve probably felt too ashamed or didn’t have the right encouragement especially in a larger class.”
The students are getting ready to participate in the FIRST LEGO League. It’s not something that special education students would have the opportunity to participate in if they were in a public school.
“That’s really made them light up,” Worthen says. “In this place, everyone is learning and we give them the opportunity to fail.”
For more information on Science Prep Academy, visit scienceprepacademy.com.