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New school is built to help Utah families with children on autism spectrum

With Utah being among the highest in the nation for rates of autism, families will soon have a new place to turn for help.

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (Good 4 Utah) - With Utah being among the highest in the nation for rates of autism, families will soon have a new place to turn for help. The newly built school is called Spectrum Academy and it's the second of its kind in Utah. Autism is ranked at 1 in 54 among Utah children. For boys, it's 1 in 46, which is why a new learning facility is being built in Utah County giving families more options for their autistic child.

"For the most part it will look like a typical school,” said Brad Nelson, the Director of Development for the new charter school.

Nelson has poured his heart into the academy because his grandson is also on the spectrum. He says  with 33 classrooms each will only have 12 to 15 students per class in grades K- 8 and eventually all the way up to the 12th grade.

"In the classrooms there is interactive screens the teachers have interactive tablets that they can use as their walking through.”

With 350 students currently enrolled the 45,000 sq foot learning facility is unique....offering individualized attention while also having 6 observation rooms. “We do a lot of data collection on attentiveness of the student how different teaching methods work and collect a lot of data so that way we can use them to be more effective,” said Nelson.

Even the light and dark blue paint is geared to help the children learn better. "The teaching wall is a slightly different color than he other walls. What it will do is bring the focus in on the teacher and help keep other distractions out,” said Nelson.

So, with two levels for teaching, therapy rooms and even a specialized gymnasium giving students 45 minutes to an hour of interactive learning, what does it cost? It’s a tuition free charter school. "It doesn't cost the tax payers anymore money for the services we provide. It doesn't cost the families who bring their kids here anymore than going to a district school,” said Nelson.

Although there has been no direct link as to what causes autism or if it's curable Nelson says finding how to work with it is the next best step. “We’ve got families that have the child now, what do they do? and how do they deal with it? That’s what we do, we’re that what now, “said Nelson.

The school is finishing up it's final touches to be ready to start class on august 18th. Right now they still have some open enrollment for select grades. For more information on enrollment or about the school visit http://www.spectrumcharter.org/

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