New autism school opens in Norwood

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. (front, 2nd from l) and QSAC board members and staff were excited to cut the ribbon for the new school on 3200 Jerome Avenue.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Bronx parents with children on the autism spectrum now have a learning center to bring their children thanks to a new Quality Services for the Autism Community school at 3200 Jerome Avenue.

The school, which had its ribbon cutting on Thursday, January 26, already has about 10 students registered and hopes to reach 92 students, according to QSAC deputy executive director Lisa Veglia.

Prior to the opening, families had to take their children across the Throgs Neck Bridge to get QSAC’s services.

“Many kids came to our Queens site from the Bronx because there weren’t enough existing programs in the Bronx,” said Veglia. “By opening the new QSAC School, we are helping to meet the needs of families affected by autism living in the Bronx.”

The school will serve grades K through 12 and ages five to 21.

Veglia said discussions for a Bronx location began in 2008.

However, due to the recession, the project was put on hold.

The new school follows the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, which supports students in achieving greater independence and realizing their full potential.

In addition QSAC makes sure each child gets the attention they need by implementing an individual education plan, or IEP, for every student.

In addition, that IEP will dictate the class to instructor ratio for each student.

Veglia said classes will break up in ratios of six students/one teacher/three teacher’s assistants, eight students/one teacher/two teacher’s assistants, or ten students/one teacher/two teacher’s assistants.

The deputy executive director also stresses that even though the school is funded by the state and city department of educations, the school is not a public school and does not charge tuition.

Valerie Holt, a long life resident of the Bronx, was excited to have a place closer to home for her six-year old daughter McKenzie to attend school.

McKenzie had previously been attending QSAC’s location in Queens.

Holt said she was pleased that the organization brought a couple of McKenzie’s teachers over to the Bronx location to make sure she was comfortable.

“When McKenzie arrived at the school her speech teacher was there and the teacher from her old classroom,” said Holt. “So there’s familiarity and it wasn’t like a shock to her system.”

She continued, “For kids on the spectrum change is not always a good thing.”

Holt also praised the school for the specific attention it pays to children.

She, like Veglia, noted the Bronx doesn’t have many options for children with autism.

“[Public schools] may have special ed or certain things but it’s not an autistic program,” said Holt.

“She may be grouped up with a kid who is blind or a kid who is there for bad behavior,” Holt continued. “That’s not a program where she can learn and grow.”

Veglia said the school prides itself on its qualified staff as many of them are special educators and behavior analysts.

“The school provides students with a person-centered approach to developing academic, socialization, communication, and life skills,” she said.

As QSAC fills spots in the school Veglia encourages parents to reach out to her at (212) 244-5560.

For more information visit their website at qsac.com.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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