The Academy For Autism
The Academy for Autism serves students in grades K-12 with an educational or medical diagnosis of
Autism Spectrum Disorder. The educational experience for students at The Academy for Autism
includes evidence-based programming based on principles of applied behavior analysis,
including functional behavior assessments and discrete trial teaching. Students benefit
from low student-to-staff ratio (2:1); extensive staff training in teaching children
with autism; speech and occupational therapy; mental health therapy and psychiatric
services as needed; and case coordination to address both educational and medical needs.
Consultation with a developmental pediatrician for evaluation and service planning will
be provided with the goal of successfully transitioning students to home school districts
Whatever it takes for every student to reach their full potential.
The Children’s Home Association of Illinois collaborated over a period of three years (2010-2013) to analyze educational services for youth with an autism spectrum disorder who reside in Peoria and nearby areas. This evaluation included many in-depth discussions with local school districts and cooperatives to assess resources and needs in regard to this population. It was determined that among other necessary services, there is a need for the student to have a private day treatment placement. The Academy for Autism (AFA) opened its doors in June 2013.
Our Mission is twofold:
- 1) Empowering students to reach their full potential academically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally for the purpose of reintegrating into an academic setting with typical developing peers or integrating into the community as independent individuals with the appropriate support;
- 2) Endeavoring to motivate and empower families to be involved in their student’s development through ongoing collaboration, education, and support.
Embrace the Difference to Make a Difference
The Academy for Autism is located at 404 NE Madison, Peoria, IL 61603 and is in the same building as Kiefer School. The space for the program is on the 1st floor and consists of 3 classrooms, a sensory room, 2 private offices, 2 individual treatment rooms and 3 restrooms. Students from AFA and Kiefer programs share the gymnasium, bus lanes and cafeteria space. The program is a 210 day school year with a highly structured schedule for each student. The school day is 8:30 to 2:30 during the regular school year and 8:30 to 1:00 during the summer.
Students deemed appropriate for the program will demonstrate symptoms consistent with the current DSM 5 diagnoses of Autism and/or Pervasive Developmental Disorder. For many of these students, their educational disability will be Autism, while other students may have a designation of ID, SLD, SLI, DD, OHI or ED and has received a medical diagnosis of Autism. The target census will be 20-24 students serving grades K-12. Each student is evaluated for appropriate fit based on the general criteria for the Program, as well as, on their ability to function in the current classroom milieu (i.e. the ability to interact appropriately with a group of students with similar needs).
Staffing in each classroom will consist of one certified Teacher and two certified para-professional Teacher Assistants as a minimum. Classrooms will be limited in general to 8 students. Individual teaching assistant support may be provided depending upon the needs of the student. In addition, the program has a full time Speech Pathologist, a full time Occupational Therapy Assistant, a full time Behavior Specialist, a full time Case Manager. The Children’s Home has contracted with Easter Seals of Central Illinois for supervision by an Occupational Therapist.
AFA is a private therapeutic day school with Applied Behavioral Analysis based programming. We endeavor to assist students in the development of behavioral, academic, social, emotional, and functional skills to gain maximum independence.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant, Speech Pathologist, Case Manager and Behavior Specialist provide services as required by the IEP and have an important role in designing classroom interventions and providing support and education for the teaching staff. Training for all staff in evidence-informed interventions for youth with Autism is provided. Methods may include but are not limited to the following examples: Discrete Trial Training, Social Stories, Time-Away, Behavior Intervention Techniques, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and The Unique Curriculum. Although a core set of interventions are used with all students, instruction and intervention is tailored to meet the needs of each student.
Program Director: Gwynetta Bullock
Case Manager: Molly Verchota
Behavior Specialist: Megan Keating
Occupational Therapy Assistant: Lynn Willock
Speech Language Pathologist: Leslie Kokotek
Elementary Classroom: Amy Belt (Teacher Therapist)
Middle School Classroom: Susan Springmann
High School Classroom: Krista Herrin
For more information, please contact:
Gwynetta Bullock - Director