Primary school for children with autism expanding its services
The Crystal Academy Primary School, which specializes on individual learning styles for children in the autism spectrum, is expanding its services to fifth grade and is accepting the McKay Scholarship beginning in the 2013 school year.
The primary school serves children with varying developmental delays, including autism spectrum disorders, cognitive impairment, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and language-based delays. Crystal Academy originally offered pre-kindergarten to first grade; grades 2-5 will be added in the 2013-14 school year.
“We understand that children learn in different ways, and our program has been developed to provide a behavior and language based-intervention that promotes communication, cognition, independence and social development in a structured educational and yet loving environment,” says Valerie Bustamante, ESE lead teacher at Crystal Academy.
The school offers two different classroom models to meet every child’s needs. The primary school model is a small group instructional environment and the second model is the focused academy, which provides a more individualized, one-to-one learning environment.
“We had gone to visit more than a dozen schools, and our best choice still wasn’t good enough for what we had in mind for our son, Felipe. We heard the outstanding reputation Crystal Academy had achieved and were guided by UMCARD (University of Miami, Center for Autism and Related Disabilities) to visit the primary school. We feel overwhelmed with joy. We see our son progressing amazingly on a daily basis and achieving a level of independence never seen before. His speech and understanding have improved to a magical point. It’s like having another son at home,” explained Mariana Fernandez and Felipe Leo, parents of 5-year-old Felipe, who began at Crystal Academy Primary School in 2012.
The primary school staff is composed of certified exceptional student education teachers, certified speech and language pathologists and assistants, licensed occupational therapists in addition to board-certified behavior analysts and assistants.
“Young students with special needs require highly specialized learning environments which offer high-quality intensive, multidisciplinary interventions. With the growing numbers of students with special needs, particularly autism spectrum disorders, it is essential that we build capacity in our community to support these students in both the private and public sectors,” Dr. Michael Alessandri, executive director, Center for Autism & Related Disabilities.
The Crystal Academy Primary School, 110 Phoentia Ave. (on the grounds of St. James Lutheran Church) is having the K-5th grade open house in March and April. Crystal Academy is also the first therapy center in Coral Gables to provide early intervention to children as young at 18 months.