Youngstown school will educate autistic students - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

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Youngstown school will educate autistic students

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Construction crews will be busy over the next couple of months as they work to transform an old insurance building into the area's newest school, Potential Development High School for Autism.

"Based on enrollment at our preschool and our school aged program, we could definitely see that there was a high need, options for a high school population.  We are very limited in this area," said Paul Garchar the executive director of Potential Development.

While there are many schools here in the Mahoning Valley dedicated to educating elementary students on the spectrum, this will be the first school of its kind dedicated to educating high schoolers on the spectrum.  It will also be the third of its kind in the state of Ohio.

For parents, like Lisa Robinson, the school couldn't have opened at a more convenient time. 

Her son, who has moderate to severe Autism, was about to age out of Potential Development's elementary school.

"We want James to have continuity and to learn life skills and this place is perfect," said Lisa Robinson of McDonald.

The 30,000 square foot facility houses three floors.

Potential Development plans to renovate the lower level and first floor to include at least eight classrooms with SMART boards and iPads, a model apartment for students to learn life skills, occupation and speech therapy rooms and a fine arts learning center.  

"As a freshman, we need to plan out where is this child going to be four or five years down the road. Are they going to be able to work, will they be in a supported employment situation, can they go on to college things like that," said Garchar.

In order to get the school up and running, Potential Development must raise more than $550,000.

The school, which is scheduled to open this fall, is accepting students.

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