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The NYC Autism Charter School Hopes to Open Second Location

The NYC Autism Charter School Hopes to Open Second Location

Educators behind a charter school, for students with autism, in East Harlem hope to open up another location in the South Bronx in time for the 2017-18 school year, according to DNAinfo.

Organizers at The NYC Charter School decided on South Bronx for their next branch based on the amount of families on the school’s wait list that are from the borough, said Executive Director Julie Fisher.

“The South Bronx was identified as an area that was sort of a needy area. I’ve heard that from folks in the autism community,” she said. “When you look at our wait list and see the percentage of families that are applying from The Bronx, it’s significant.”

The school works with students ages 5-21 and offers extremely small class sizes, with an average of four students per classroom and one-on-one instruction in five out of its eight classrooms. The school teaches classes in standard academic subjects, as well as life skills, personal safety and self- care to help prepare students for adulthood.

"We actually did a renovation project here where we converted one of our bathrooms into a teaching bathroom," Fisher said, "so we actually go into the bathroom and teach kids how to brush teeth."

Other class topics can include how to tolerate a haircut, how to have a conversation and how to play catch. Students also take piano lessons, with a holiday recital that gives parents a chance to see their kids perform, which is an extra special treat for them.

"If you have a child with autism, the drudgery of going to your kids play or soccer practice or whatever, they don’t have that opportunity," Fisher said. "What becomes mundane for most families is something our families would die to do."

The school has already turned in its application for another branch and should have a decision by April. The new spot is planned for either School District 7 or School District 9, which encompass several South Bronx neighborhoods including Mott Haven, Melrose, Concourse and Highbridge.

Mildred Arjona, whose five-year-old son attends the NYC Autism Charter School, said the school had been extremely beneficial for her child and that opening a second branch in The Bronx was a great idea.

“I think it’s going to be helpful for a lot of children,” she said, “and a lot of families, too.”

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Author: Linda DiProperzio has written extensively on parenting issues for Parents, American Baby, Parenting, and Family Circle, among others. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons. See More

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