Officials hope to open school for autistic students in Fort Myers
A Naples-based school for children with autism is hoping to open a new campus in Fort Myers as early as next month.
Officials from Eden Autism Services Florida are currently scouting for a facility to house their new school in Fort Myers. The decision to open a new campus was based on an increasing number of inquiries from residents of Fort Myers and Cape Coral wanting their children to attend a school specializing in autism education.
“This will be a lot more convenient for families in Lee County,” said Susan Suarez, executive director of Eden Autism Services Florida. “We have students from Lee County in our Naples school right now, but transportation is an issue for many of these families.”
The organization currently operates the Eimerman Education Center in Naples and the Adult Day Training Facility at the McBridge Center in Fort Myers. The new Fort Myers school will accept students K-12, with an age limit of 22-years-old.
Students accepted to any of the schools operated by Eden Autism Services have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, meaning it manifests in many forms and ranges from mild to severe.
The prevalence of autism diagnoses is on the rise — either because of more resources available to identify a case or some physiological change in children — and statistics now indicate that 1 in every 110 children are born with some form of autism.
What makes Eden Services unique from the public school system is an emphasis on education tailored for students with autism and a low student-to-teacher ratio ranging from 1:1 to 6:1.
“The Eden curriculum is a specialized curriculum for children with autism,” said Suarez. “It teaches them communication skills, life skills, domestic skills, self care skills and we also have an academic curriculum for our more independent, higher functioning students.”
Many students who are accepted into Eden Autism Services fund their education through a McKay Scholarship and tuition paid by their family.
The schools are a division of Eden Autism Services in New Jersey, the company which is helping to finance the new school.
Suarez said she hopes the community becomes involved in the school once it opens.
“When we do open we’d love to have community volunteers to help with special art or music projects, and any donated supplies,” she said.
For more information on the school, contact the Naples campus at 992-4680 or visit www.edenservices.org.