As Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, a local community marked a new beginning Saturday with the unveiling of a campus that exclusively serves autistic children.
School administrators and families celebrated the grand opening of Gateway Academy at 3939 E. Shea Boulevard, a private K-12 school dedicated to meeting the needs of autistic children.
Statistics show one in every 64 kids are diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
Robin Sweet, founder of the school, said she was inspired to open Gateway Academy after experiences with her own autistic son.
"He got kicked out of two kindergartens, and unfortunately, that's the norm with this population," she said.
Sweet said the Empowerment Scholarship is paying for 90 percent of the tuition, a significant help for families and children who wouldn't be able to afford a private education.
"It's amazing. It's unremarkable. I don't know how to describe it. He's a completely different child," said Natalie Flanigan.
Flanigan's son was originally in the public school system but after two years spent at Gateway, she has her son back again, she said.
"Were also trying to teach them that life isn't so difficult and it's great to be different. Different is what runs the world," Sweet said.
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