LearningSpring School is giving kids with autism an alternative to the average classroom curriculum.
The institution was born from the LearningSpring Foundation, which was created in 2000 by a group of parents who were frustrated with the lack of educational options for children with autism. The school, which is located in Manhattan and spans from kindergarten to eighth grade, doesn't just focus primarily on academic achievement like traditional schools. Instead, the academics are a part of a more holistic curriculum that includes social-cognitive-behavioral development, speech and language skills, and more.
Carolyn Kretz, the parent of a LearningSpring student, said the school's tailored curriculum assuaged most of the worries she had about sending her child to school.
"We're able to actually be mom and dad to Sam, which is so fantastic," she told HuffPost Rise. "Rather than worrying about the day-to-day of what he is and is not getting, as far as attention, therapy, help and we know that they're doing it all here at LearningSpring."
Andrea Esteruelas, another LearningSpring parent, said the school had a hugely positive impact on her son's behavioral skills. Usually, he would be "desperate to get out" of chaotic, overcrowded situations, and speaking was once difficult, but he can now articulate his needs clearly and calmly, even in the most hectic situations.
"All of a sudden we could start going places with him because he knew what he needed," she said.
While the school receives a per-child tuition reimbursement from the New York City Department of Education, it doesn't cover all the costs associated with the school. The LearningSpring School encourages parents to help the school fundraise to finance the $6,300 gap between city funding and the actual cost of educating each student.
As of now, head of school Margaret Poggi said the institution doesn't have plans to open another LearningSpring location, but hopes to spread the lessons and best practices its educators have learned through written curricula or trainings.
Hear more about the school's innovative programs in the video above.