School for autistic kids opens third campus in East Valley

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 18 at 10:13 AM

PHOENIX -- A K-12 school designed specifically to meet the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders opened its third campus Wednesday morning.

3TV's Tess Rafols was in Gilbert for the ribbon cutting at the new Pieceful Solutions location.

Created by Kami Cothrun, M. Ed. in 2008, Pieceful Solutions is the first school of its kind in Arizona.

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders love it, saying the school is not only academically oriented, but also teaches essential life skills.

"It has been the difference between seeing our daughter just struggling to handle public school to just being able to smile and laugh and not just just learn, but also to form relationships with friends who are her age who understand and know what she's going through," Mark Hansen said.

That is what the school is all about.

"Pieceful Solutions respects the individuality of every child and uses each child's strengths to build self-confidence and create success with an individual program," reads the school's website.

Earlier this year, the government revised its estimation of how many U.S. children will be diagnosed with autism to 1 in 68.

The cause or causes of autism are still not known. Without any blood test or other medical tests for autism, diagnosis is not an exact science. It's identified by making judgments about a child's behavior.

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, it affects people differently.

Signs of autism can include slow language development, inability to connect words and their meanings, reluctance to interact socially, lack of response to basic social cues like eye contact and smiles, tendencies to throw tantrums for no obvious reason, potentially aggressive behavior, repetitive hand movements and unusual ways of relating to people or things.

The new Pieceful Solutions campus is specifically for junior high and high school students. Eighty students are already enrolled.

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