A school for autism students to learn about independent living

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A school primarily for students with autism, High Road Academy is a state-approved special education day school in Wallingford. They focus on communication, behavior, and social skills.

Sorting laundry, folding clothes, making a bed. This is not a single room apartment. It is a classroom where High Road Academy autism students learn life skills. Avery Horne’s 17-year-old son Cole is among them.

“Cole needed to be in an environment that everyone understood him,” said Horne. “He is more social, which is a huge thing. He will actually ask questions here. He will respond not to just the teachers, but he’ll respond to other students.”

It is a school where a student’s different piece of the autism puzzle is met.

“A lot of students are very good at following directions, but we want these students to actually think on their own and be able to problem-solve on their own and not have to rely on adult support as they do,” said program director Andrew Moyer.

Everyday basics are stressed so when they leave, there is a wider net of options.

“We want them, if they can, to have that potential to be able to go out and work if that’s what they’d like to do,” explained teacher Robin Davies.

“That’s my biggest fear,” said Horne, “What is he going to do without me?”

The program is a work in-progress, based on the needs of school districts and families.

“We are providing a continuum of services for school districts, and we’re trying to provide services for students in the autism spectrum as well as students who have lower cognitive abilities,” said Moyer.

Independent living is the goal.

“We work mainly with a lot of the lower functioning population where they are learning the building blocks of certain skills, especially along the lines of language development,” said Moyer.

Parents Horne are already seeing the benefits.

“At home, I can ask him, Cole set the table, Cole let’s clean up the table,” she said. “Before, I would never even think of asking him.”

High Road Academy is approved for 35 slots.  It serves Kindergarten through grade 12, ages five to 21.

For more information, call (203) 284-0441 or click here.

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