Education is not a one-size-fits-all model. Some students need additional resources or different pathways to reach the goal of a quality education.
Our son, Paul, who is in preschool, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. At three years old, his communication skills were extremely limited, but he was aging out of our county’s early intervention program. Although our school district offered him a special education classroom and speech therapy, we felt conflicted. We were certain he would benefit from continuing more of the therapy services he had previously received, but our resources were limited when pursuing private options.
It was at this time a friend suggested we look into the Ohio Autism Scholarship. With the scholarship, we could offer Paul a private preschool that specialized in language development, as well as occupational therapy, physical therapy and additional hours of speech therapy in our home.
Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program is the nation’s only private school choice program designed for students with autism. Unlike other scholarship programs, autism scholarships aren’t limited to tuition and parents are empowered to mix and match services from schools and providers. Scholarships can be used toward educational services or tuition at private or public schools outside of their district’s boundaries.
Over the past three years, the change in Paul has been amazing. As he meets each developmental milestone, he becomes increasingly talkative, fun-loving and creative. His teachers call him “a miracle,” but what impresses us most is how much happier Paul is now. Just a few years ago, his struggles to communicate resulted in multiple daily meltdowns. Today, he’s an insightful, happy kid that can’t wait to start kindergarten.
Thanks to the scholarship, Paul enjoys a robust schedule of services tailored to his needs. Language development and sensory integration are essential building blocks to a strong educational foundation. Because of the Ohio Autism Scholarship, we are setting Paul up for success in the classroom.
This month, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism, including the opportunity to choose a learning environment that best fits their needs, whether that is in their assigned school, a private specialized school, or additional therapies. Thanks to the Ohio Autism Scholarship, more than 3,500 students receive opportunities to succeed. We hope that soon, all Ohio families will have the opportunity to find the best educational fit for their unique needs.