CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Alarming research shows one in six children with Autism are kicked out of preschool programs. This is according to a study from the University of California, Riverside.The study says, the average age of children expelled is 3.3-years-old. The report describes consequence for children who are expelled, saying once they enter kindergarten, the children face more conflict or have more dependency on their teachers, among other difficulties.
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A Coastal Bend mom shared a similar experience she had when she was trying to find a preschool fit for her son's needs.
KRIS 6 News spoke with Chelsea Lanzener Coy, who's son Kenneth was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The six-year-old was two-years-old when he was diagnosed.
"I feel like things in life never happen how you think they're gonna happen. So, Kenneth has definitely surprised me along the way. It hasn't been a smooth ride, but it's been a beautiful one." Chelsea said.
Kenneth is mostly non-verbal, according his mother. However, she said he's been able to express love in many ways.
"Rather than a diagnoses or him being disabled, I think of him just being different. You know, his mind works a little differently and I'm just trying to get to know him." she explained.
The problem is, others outside his family hardly had an opportunity to do the same. Kenneths mom said he was kicked out of preschool. She noted, the preschool politely asked them to stop utilizing its services.
"These teachers and childcare professionals, they don't have the resources. They don't have the staffing or the time to take care of certain students that need extra help. So, I understand why they weren't able to take care of Kenneth." said Chelsea. "But as a parent, I'm looking at these institutions and I'm like, I need your help. What do I do? I'm a working mother. My husband works. How am I supposed to bring in my income. How am I supposed to have the American dream life if my son can't go to school?"
Eventually, she found a light at the end of the tunnel. Local non-profit organization, Rise School of Corpus Christi took Kenneth in and they have given him a place to thrive.
"He's so much more social, comfortable in himself, confident in himself." Chelsea said gleefuly. "He's getting used to the routine of school."
Rise is dedicated to early education of children with and without special needs. Their all insclusive classrooms have master level educators and on staff speech, occupational, physical and music therapists.
"I believe in the principle of inclusion and I think it's needed in this age group. We are setting the foundation for a lifetime of kids and giving them the therapies they need early on, the interventions, the help for children with special needs but also for our typically developing kids." The school's executive director, Kayla Everett said, "There's so many beneficial things about our kids who are on the spectrum and they have so much joy in life. And it's important to take the patience and work with these kids because they are valuable for our communities."
However, the demand and need is high for resources like the ones Rise offers. The executive director said about 157 people are on the school's wait list. They are still looking into adding more to a wait list for the next school year.
"A perfect world would be no red tape for families with special needs." said Everett. "We just need therapists down here, doctor's down here, more resources for our families to make the process easier for families to get help for their children."
According to Everett, 43 percent of students are on tuition assistance and possibly can't afford going to the school without the help of donor funds and fundraising events.
You can help the school by donating or volunteering.
To learn more about providing assistance for rise or about the school's resources you can click here.