CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The need to help serve parents and their children living on the autism spectrum is growing all across the country and Autism Charlotte hopes the opening of a new resource center will help meet that need and increase success for students in the area.
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, overcoming the learning challenges for those with autism hasn't been easy.
Autism Charlotte recently secured a new building that will be used as the area's only full-day program for preschool children on the spectrum as well as a supplemental afternoon program for school-age kids with autism.
The goal of both resources is to meet the students' educational and social needs.
"The ABCs and 123s, sometimes it takes them a little bit longer to get that so reinforcing that," Autism Charlotte CEO Valerie Iseah said. “So we have the opportunity in a small setting one on one to work with them on things like communication, sharing, expressing their feelings.”
The CDC reports 1 in 44 children in the U.S. are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. More than 7,000 of those kids are reportedly living in the Charlotte Mecklenburg community, according to Iseah.
Even though the space for the autism academy is there, the building is still in need of furniture, special equipment and supplies to help bring the idea to reality. This 3D animation lays out the vision of the Academy for Students with Autism including a full enclosed playground too.
“We’re just starting to try and move the needle, but we can't do it by ourselves," Iseah said. "We need the community behind us."
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The plan is to open the center in southeast Charlotte off of Sardis Road by early 2023.
Autism Charlotte says the long-term plan is to open four centers like this all across the city. Through the "A Place to Call Home" campaign you can donate to help the organization reach its goals.