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Old May 23rd, 2017, 12:31 PM   #691
Visionary7903 Male
Autism Awareness
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related events and organisations in the state of Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC), a program of SVH Services, is Southwest Virginia-based nonprofit center that provides education and services for individuals affected by various challenges. This includes children with Autism Spectrum Disorders...
Smith wants the best education for her seven-year-old son, Liam.

"This is a child who stands at the front door, waiting and asking for the bus," Smith said. "He loves school so much."

..."People don't understand that these children have value," Smith said. "They basically think that they're not going to amount to anything. It makes it hard for them to want to spend money on them."

Liam attends the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC)... BRAAC is a nonprofit private education system licensed by the Virginia Department of Education that offers a highly structured program for students with learning disabilities and autism. Private schools for children with special needs, such as BRAAC, have received state funding under the Children's Services Act (CSA) since 1993.

BRAAC serves 100 students [from the age of 2]...

The CSA does not define a specific spending limit for the amount of money the state should use toward funding private special education. If a student is placed in a private special-education school, the state and local governments are responsible for the student's tuition if the parents cannot afford to pay on their own.

...Tuition at BRAAC can cost $3,500 to $62,000 a year. Giuliano said the cost depends on the level of expertise and staff support each student requires -- from the preschool program to specialized, one-on-one instruction.

An individual work station used by students at BRAAC Lexington.
"We work with some amazing school systems," Giuliano said. "However, there is a certain point where we're able to offer an individualized education that can rarely be done in a public school setting -- simply due to staffing."

BRAAC Lexington currently serves 10 students from Buena Vista, Rockbridge County and Augusta County. The center has four classrooms, where two to three students are placed at individual work stations for one-on-one instruction with a behavior technician. Each student follows an individualized plan -- whether life skills, such as eating and brushing teeth, or communication skills.

Giuliano said BRAAC does its best to cover costs on its own -- with fundraising events and grant writing -- but is still reliant on CSA-mandated funding.

...Andrea Smith, however, is still fearful of possible state budget cuts. She knows firsthand what can happen if a child with autism does not receive the proper education and care that private schools such as BRAAC offer.

In 2014, Smith and her family briefly moved to Howard County, Maryland.

...Two years later, Smith moved her family back to Lynchburg just so Liam could return to BRAAC.

"We're so happy to be back," she said. "He can function. He can be a person. BRAAC has been life-changing."

The General Assembly's work group is to submit a report to the chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees by Nov. 1, in advance of the next regular General Assembly session. Meanwhile, educators and parents alike are contacting state representatives and sharing their stories.

"I am grateful that [the amendments] did not pass, but our work is not done," Smith said. "These kids' lives are very much on the line."
Here is a link to a short video from the BRAAC preschool from last year:

Last edited by Visionary7903; May 26th, 2017 at 12:41 PM.
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agricultural , autism , employment , revolution , rural , specialisterne , spectrum

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