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Educational program for students with autism meets needs for local program

Autism education program new to St. James

St. James (April 17, 2015) – World Autism Awareness month kicked off on April 2 with the Light It Up Blue celebration in which global landmarks displayed blue lights to shine a light on autism awareness. Landmarks such as Niagara Falls, Egypt’s Great Pyramid, Trafalgar Square in London and even the International Space Station, among others, joined in the campaign.

Locally, children with autism also had a reason to celebrate.  In fall 2014 Great Circle opened a classroom at its school in St. James dedicated to teaching children with autism diagnoses. The program also serves children with a variety of communication disorders and cognitive delays.

“There were not many options in the area for children with autism to attend programs completely designed around their individual needs,” said Richard Hockersmith, director of education. “Great Circle has a very successful program in St. Louis and thought that area children and families would greatly benefit from a program much closer to home.”

The program has grown to an enrollment of nine students.  The program is evidence-based and serves grade levels from kindergarten through 12th grade. Facilities include a sensory room, a white room and a life skills room. Each classroom features smart boards and students use iPads.

Students are referred through their local school districts. The goals for students are to modify behaviors, improve communication skills and develop social skills that enable children to return to and function successfully in a less restrictive school environment.

For more information, call (573)265-3251, ext. 7110.