Teachers who care and know how to help, these two factors are the takeaway messages Amanda Kay wants other parents to know when considering enrolling their child in the Newton Learning Center of Northern Nevada.
“Newton is a private school catering to high-functioning children on the autism spectrum. It is successful in providing students what they need to succeed outside of the Newton learning environment,” Kay said.
Kay said she knows this from her own experience in enrolling her son Liam at Newton for his middle school years. The staff was so successful in helping him that Liam transitioned to a charter high school after three years on campus.
Kay said her son’s journey evolved as he progressed through grade school.
“We didn’t notice anything at home, but his second grade teacher suggested we take him to the school district for evaluation,” she said. “They came back with a diagnosis of being on the Autism Spectrum and ADHD. At the end of second grade, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.”
With a diagnosis in hand, Kay met with school officials seeking a recommendation for her son, but discovered they couldn’t put a finger on his needs. Even still, she kept in touch with his teachers for the rest of elementary school, hoping for the best.
With the transition to middle school, Liam really began to struggle. Kay met with teachers and found their level of interest varied from wanting to help, to admitting they were unprepared to help, to downright indifference and apathy.
She said she also learned later that her son was being bullied and excluded from events by other children.
Knowing a change had to be made, Kay did some research. She talked to other parents about their experiences at the public middle school and learned that it took almost daily visits by some parents to ensure the school was following their child’s IEP and that teachers were engaged in teaching.
Kay knew there had to be something else for her son and while searching online, soon came across Newton Learning Center.
“We made an appointment to stop by Newton during their summer camp. Liam was immediately welcomed and invited to play with the other children. It was a huge benefit in being welcomed by his peers who understood where he was coming from,” she said. “And I could see that the staff there knew what was going on with my son and knew how to deal with it. They’d seen it before.”
The decision was made, and Liam was enrolled at Newton.
In the three years he attended Newton, Kay said he learned how to advocate for himself and made good friends he still sees. “They opened up possibilities for him.”
His experience at Newton was so positive that Liam was able to transition to a charter high school in Sparks and is currently successfully handling that environment with the help of the school’s resource teachers. He is currently on track to graduate in June 2019.