The Learning Center – Manchester is welcoming new students
By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Thu., Sep. 19, 2013
Parents and caretakers with special needs children have a new educational option for the children in their care. The Learning Center - Manchester, a private, special education facility that serves students ages 3 to 10 who have autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, and intellectual disabilities, has opened in Manchester at their new location on Prospect Street.
Director of Education Amy Gates said The Learning Center – Manchester, is a part of the Cromwell-based Adelbrook program, a residential and day school which traditionally has served students with significant behavioral and clinical needs, often those involved in the juvenile justice system.
“Over the last couple of years the population has shifted a bit and now we focus primarily on students with autism, developmental delays and intellectual disabilities,” Gates said. She said last year the Adelbrook program created three distinct academies in the school in order to provide specialized services to each of the different populations. They now have two academies, one male and one female, that house their more traditional students with behavioral emotional and mental health needs. The last academy, their largest, focuses on the needs of children with autism, developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Gates said that because their school in Cromwell serves students between 9 and 21, the Manchester program will help to create an educational continuum. “Manchester seemed like a good location as it gave us the opportunity to serve towns in eastern Connecticut who may not have access to specialized programs for their most severe students, except for traveling to Rhode Island or Hartford,” she said.
The Learning Center – Manchester opened this month for the new school year, their students being typically referred by school districts who are struggling to meet the students’ special educational needs. “Often these students need a smaller learning environment, low staff to student ratio, intensive speech and language, behavioral services, or specialized intervention services,” Gates said. “We also offer intensive parent education and in-home supports to our families.”
Gates said part of the educational program involves getting the students out into the community, such as to parks, the library, grocery stores and restaurants, with a team of professionals who can work with the students on any behavioral issues. They also work closely with the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Developmental Services and other agencies with which the families are connected.
“I think the biggest benefit [of The Learning Center – Manchester] is the specialized services, such as the board certified behavior analyst who develops a behavior program for the student here at the school but also offers in-home services as well,” said Gates. She added that often families are struggling with basic routines at home, or taking their children out in the community, and their professionals help to create a behavior and communication plan for students in school and in the home if parents are in need of that.
Gates said that in addition to the specialized services for preschool and elementary age students, they will be offering an integrated preschool program with a mix of students with special education needs and those more typical peers. “This type of program helps to provide good language, social and behavioral models for our students with special education needs,” said Gates. “There is a lot of research to support the incidental learning that takes place when typical peers are included in the program.” Gates said they expect to begin enrolling students into the preschool program in September. Parents interested in visiting the program or enrolling their child may contact the school at 860-645-1255, ext. 420.