Autism school to shut its doors - - Jackson, MS

Jackson, MS 06/08/2009

Autism school to shut its doors

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By Julie Straw - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A school tailored for children with autism is closing.  University of Mississippi Medical Center doctors say what will open in its place will be better all around, but some families affected by the closure are not so sure.

Watching seven year old Adison and six year old McKade play you may never know that these two have autism, but both have come a long way in their behavior and communication skills say parents Toby and Leah Price.  They thank the Mississippi Child Development Institute for that.

"The building had what was needed to keep them there and keep them safe and they were learning on top of it.  It offered a lot of hope.  They did a lot for our kids," said Toby Price.

MCDI meets the needs of autistic children in a safe and educational environment.  It is run by UMC and largely funded by the Department of Education.

Last week a letter was sent to parents informing them the school is shutting down and raising huge concerns for families with few options to turn to.

"We have very few resources available in central Mississippi for children with autism and what you do have you hang onto," said Leah Price.

The location at the Jackson Medical Mall will close its doors at the end of summer.  UMC officials say they will reopen at the Batson Children's Hospital as a clinic to focus on treatment and research.

"We want to take the info we have now with the current research and to build on it as quickly as possible.  We just think we can reach the same goals in a shorter period of time and if we can do that we can serve more children," said Doctor Phyllis Bishop, the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics at UMC.

The change will leave the children's education in the hands of public schools.  Price says some are more prepared for children with special needs than others.

"Mississippi has to catch.  We have to have these resources that are available," said Leah Price.


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