Who the Academy Serves
Despite there being a lack of schools in Southern Arizona designed for those with autism, Arizona’s prevalence rates are greater than much of the rest of the country, with an estimated 1 in 64 births (CDC, 2014.) Autism is the fastest growing disability (CDC, 2008.) Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births (CDC, 204.) From 2000 to 2010, the prevalence of children with autism in the U. S. increased by nearly 120% (CDC, 2014.) Autism costs U. S. citizens between $236 billion to $262 billion annually (Buescher et al, 2014.) A majority of the costs are in adult services (Buescher et al, 2014) However, the life-long costs associated with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can be reduced by up to two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention (Government Accounting Office Report on Autism, 2007.) The most successful early intervention models for autism are rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) (Granpeesheh et al, 2009.)
Intermountain Academy’s mission is limited to serving children with a primary educational diagnosis of autism in grades K-8. ASD and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaiors (Autism Speaks, 2014.) It costs more than $8,600 extra per year to educate a student with autism (Lavelle et al, 2014,) yet Intermountain is able to provide education to over 90% of its students free of out of pocket expenses for caregivers.
Families of children with an autism diagnosis face not only emotional challenges, but financial challenges as well. Four out of five students at the Academy fall below 185% of the federal proverty guideline. One study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that mothers of children with autism earn 56 percent less, on average, than moms with typically-developing children (Ciday et al, 2012.) Over half of the students at Intermountain Academy come from a family with one parent, a single mother. Family earnings of children with ASD are 21% ($10,416) less than those of children with another health limitation and 28% ($17,763) less than those of children with no health limitation (Ciday et al, 2012.) That is why Intermountain Academy does its very best to ensure that adequate resources are available to families that need it.
Intermountain Academy provides a specialized educational opportunity for children with a primary diagnosis of autism, but we also serve families by making our innovative programming available to individuals that might not otherwise be able to afford it.