The FOCUS Center for Autism, in Canton, is all about eradicating nervousness and making a welcoming studying surroundings for college kids with autism.
That’s the entire purpose founders Donna Swanson and her husband, Fred Evans, of North Granby, needed to start out the nonprofit in 2000, which has now grown to turn out to be a totally accredited particular schooling program.
“I had a private practice and I kept getting referred these innocent kids that were being called ADD and oppositional defiant,” Swanson stated. “But it was all out of anxiety. They weren’t oppositional defiant. A kid with anxiety is not going to do anything. If they don’t feel safe, they’re not doing it.”
Students with autism between the ages of 11 and 18 are referred to the middle. They spend full faculty days, 5 days every week, and forgo the normal center faculty and highschool setting for a extra intimate instructional expertise that Swanson stated makes studying extra approachable.
“This is all about relationships,” Swanson stated. “This kind of defies what people generally think about autism and kids with autism. They feel so safe and understood here, not only by us, but by each other.”
The middle’s new accreditation, which it acquired in November, means it is simpler for college kids to seek out their approach to the FOCUS Center’s Fresh Start School and makes it simpler for the nonprofit to get reimbursed.
“It validates everything we’ve been doing here,” Swanson stated concerning the accreditation they acquired from the Connecticut Department of Education.
There is not any bullying and teasing on the FOCUS faculty. That’s an issue most of their college students have handled at different faculties.
“A lot of these kids have been home schooled because they were not understood in school or they felt bullied,” Swanson stated. “It’s easy not to understand these kids. One famous person with autism once said, ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,’ because they are all very different and it is a spectrum.”
Hope Wilmot, a 16-year-previous from Torrington, has been with the FOCUS faculty for seven years and can be shifting on to a bigger faculty quickly.
“This school is a very calming and relaxing environment,” Wilmot stated. “The kids are not judgmental. At other schools, teachers weren’t giving me help or doing one-on-one work. I was also bullied. It’s easier to learn here.”
Swanson stated when Wilmot first got here to the FOCUS faculty, she wasn’t the identical individual as she is now leaving the varsity.
“Before, I had a lot more struggles dealing with how other kids were treating me and how they were joking around,” Wilmot stated. “One small thing would get me mad.”
Ethan Tirado, a 12-year-previous from New Britain, stated he additionally skilled struggles at his earlier faculty earlier than discovering the FOCUS faculty to be an ideal match.
“I was a bit worried when I first came here, because I thought it would be like my old school,” Tirado stated. “My old school was not fun. I had many bullies. This school has no bullies at all. I have no bullies to frustrate me.”
Tirado stated the FOCUS faculty and its employees have created an setting that permits him to concentrate on studying.
“This school is really good,” Tirado stated. “This is my dream school.”
Alana Leventhal, a 14-year-previous from Trumbull, has solely been attending the FOCUS faculty for a number of weeks now. She’s already sensing how calm the varsity makes her really feel.
“I really like this place because it feels like a safe environment,” Leventhal stated. “It’s calming. I really like being here. This is one of my favorite places to come.”
Windsor twins Jacob White and Keith White, who’re 15, each attend the FOCUS faculty, which they stated lets them study at a tempo that fits them.
“One of the major ways it’s different than my old school is that there’s a lot more one-on-one,” Jacob White stated. “Teachers really help out. You aren’t the one person in 30 kids.”
“It’s a very calm and slower environment,” Keith White stated. “You don’t have to rush. You can take your time around here. It’s a much calmer environment and it’s a lot less noisy.”
Swanson stated these college students, and seeing them study, retains her going day by day.
“I love their honesty. I get them, I understand them,” Swanson stated. “The love between us is what makes my heart beat. Somebody needs to understand them.”