1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and 1 in 59 children with autism have hearing loss.
In the Fall of 2017, the American School for the Deaf (ASD) will open their first program for autistic children. The school wanted to develop a program specifically for Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing nonverbal students with autism within an environment that is accessible both culturally and linguistically.
The ASD staff is trained to understand what is needed for students with autism to thrive in a learning environment. They also have experience from running their Positive Attitudes Concerning Education and Socialization (PACES) program, which helped them address the needs of Deaf and hard of hearing children with autism who had trouble being served due to behavior and emotional challenges.
We reached out to Jeff Bravin, Executive Director at ASD for commentary.
The autism program will start this fall. It all started when a group of parents of Deaf children with autism met at The Learning Center for the Deaf during a conference that had breakout groups, and I joined, and saw the huge need of programs for Deaf children with autism. Then last summer I hosted the DAA retreat at Camp Isola Bella where I continued to see the pressing need. I'm thrilled to say this fall, we are opening the autism program. It'll be for all ranges of students, from Deaf to nonverbal hearing students that use sign language. I'm excited and hoping the program will expand to other schools through research and working together so that all Deaf students with autism will have access to the education they deserve.
The autism program is still in development, but the plan is to provide a comprehensive and strength-based approach to education and social development for their deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing nonverbal students with autism.