Tuesday, April 17, 2012

School for autistic children getting a new building

Autism is a group of developmental disabilities that affect how children perceive the world. Autism impacts each person differently, but common symptoms include significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Today, it is estimated that nationally one in every 77 children will be diagnosed with autism. However, in Utah the rate is one in 47 children.

With that many children in Utah needing focused instruction, Sondra Hurst (the mother of two autistic children) and her family got to work. In seven short years, they've outgrown their space.Since opening its doors, Clear Horizons Academy has more than quadrupled in size. It has a growing waiting list, leaving children unable to access the specialized services that could benefit them the most.

Brent Wood, Hurst's father and president of the Hurst-Wood Education Foundation, said they started a $6.54 million project and have been working on building a new school on family property sold to the foundation at 1875 S. Geneva Road.

"The building has unique features including classrooms that have their own observations rooms, quiet rooms, a sensory room with occupational therapists. It has a life skills room that teaches students self-care," director of development Christopher Lindsay said. "It's set up like a home, where they can even learn to make beds, set the table. It helps them acquire skills to become independent adults." Daily Herald