SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The CDC says in 2018, one in 59 children were diagnosed with autism - some of them receiving that diagnosis as young as two-years-old.
Experts say early intervention gives children the best opportunity to thrive after being diagnosed with this disorder. This school year, children in our area can do so.
The Matthew Reardon center is known for providing educational opportunities for children with Autism. This fall they’re opening a new early learning center, open to everyone.
“It’s been an effort we began four-and-a-half years ago. We’re very excited were opening in August.”
Patti Victor, President and CEO of the Matthew Reardon Center, says the new Early Learning Academy will be a school where all children can excel.
“The Early Learning Academy will be an excellent, fun, play driven preschool where all children learn,” she said.
The Matthew Reardon Center opened its doors in 2000. The center is the only accredited year-round day school for children with autism in Southeast Georgia.
Ciarra Torres is the director of the new Early Learning Academy, and has years of experience educating children with autism.
“I have worked with children with autism for 10 years - all age groups, various roles; teacher, assistant, aide,” she said.
She says children can be diagnosed as young as 18 months, and early intervention is key.
“An autism diagnosis doesn’t mean a child will never succeed. We just need to find a different way to help that child succeed.”
“Getting in there at a young age and trying to teach them functional language and way to express their communication," Torres added.
Plus, there’s an added benefit of having children with autism learn alongside children who don’t have autism.
“All children imitate each other and adults. Having the typical children around really encourages the children with autism to participate in activities.”
Whether a child has autism or not, Patti Victor says the Early Learning Academy aims to give all students the foundation to succeed.
“The brain is still developing during the preschool years. Very young children learn so much so quickly. The earlier a child gets into a strong educational program, the more they’ll learn.”
Victor says they still have plenty of space for children to enroll. For more information, click here.