Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program
I am Emmerson’s mom, Shannon. My son attended a mainstream public school because I didn’t know I had options. While in the public system, he was kicked out of four different schools due to a lack of understanding of children with autism. It was a nightmare getting called out of work to pick up my child. One school kicked him out because the state was coming in to do their ratings and they had to “clean house first.” I was told the school was not a fit for someone with sensory issues and they would lose their ratings.
My child faces difficulties, I know this. It’s hard to provide an environment for someone who is sensory seeking especially because he does both output and input. He learned behavior so he can go home to his comfort zone, and that became a bigger nightmare. He is very smart, and just needs someone who understands his sensory needs.
“The staff honestly cared for the children and it showed.”
When touring Lexington school, we saw that they had smaller classroom sizes. This provided more one-on-one time and flexibility to individually teach each child at their level. The staff honestly cared for the children and it showed. In mainstream schools, they have so many kids that unfortunately are just there for a paycheck. At Lexington, you could tell that the staff genuinely cared about your child and wanted to see them succeed in life. Third and foremost, they had everything my son needed: an area for simulation, breaks, and learning. This gave my child a place he can still be himself and learn safely at the same time.
“That’s when they informed me about the ESA. It was an answer from heaven.”
As a single mom, and with no help from outside sources, there was no way I could think about private placement. As I was taking my tour of the school we started going over it and I remember wanting to break down and cry. I didn’t know how I was going to come up with the money, but I knew I needed to for my son’s future. That’s when they informed me about the ESA. It was an answer from heaven. It was worth a shot.
The school helped me gather everything I needed and for the first time, I actually felt like someone cared as much as I did. The process was actually easy. I was overwhelmed by my own thoughts and this is what made it hard at first. Thinking it was the only outlet I had and I was so used to being rejected at this point. But he got his scholarship! Thank God. What a relief.
More families should have access to this scholarship program. It honestly changed our lives. There is very little help for children with autism in mainstream public schools, They are not knowledgeable enough of the disorder and already have so much on their plates to even send teachers to a class to learn about autism. With this scholarship, parents have a place to turn for their children in a safe environment that would meet their daily needs and learning styles. Every child is different.
“With this scholarship, parents have a place to turn for their children in a safe environment that would meet their daily needs and learning styles. Every child is different.”
Honestly, school choice is a Godsend. Without the loving staff at Lexington, I honestly don’t know where my family would be at this point in life. I am a single mom and could not work because I had to take care of my child because they could not. I have no family to turn to for help. We would most likely be homeless right now.
Now my son’s school provides everything my son needs and amazing support to help break destructive learned behaviors. It is a place where I feel comfortable dropping my kid off. He has excelled on so many different levels because of this school. They don’t try to fit kids in little boxes and try to form them to the typical learning model. They take time to meet your child where they are and build on their skills and teach new ones as they go. They set an individual learning plan for each child.