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 Article of Interest - Private Schools

OH School for the Autistic Is Part Of New Study
by Brie Zeltner, Plain Dealer, September 2002
For more articles on disabilities and special ed visit

Beachwood - Monarch School, the first in Ohio devoted solely to autistic children, has joined with two Boston hospitals and Harvard Medical Center to develop a model curriculum that could be replicated in schools across the country.


The goal is to develop and test a technologically advanced method for teaching the growing number of children with this disorder.


Monarch is teaming up with a group of specialists from Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital to test the effectiveness of a technology that uses visual cues to enhance the communication and life skills of autistic children. Monarch was opened by the Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau two years ago, a few months before the Cleveland Clinic launched its Center for Autism School. Autism, a type of developmental disorder caused by a brain abnormality, has no known cause or cure. Children with autism tend to have difficulty with social and communication skills and are affected by the disorder in varying degrees and at different stages of development. The complexity of the disorder makes it difficult to treat by any single method, with early intensive education being the best way to reduce the symptoms. Public school systems generally lack the expertise and funding needed to provide these services, and are dealing with rising numbers of autistic students each year.


While the exact number of autism cases in the United States is not known, the increase noted by school administrators appears to be part of a national trend. The rise has been likened to an epidemic, with an estimated 1 in 500 children affected as compared with 4 in 10,000 40 years ago, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In Ohio last year, nearly 3,000 school-age children were identified as autistic, up from 1,600 in 1999 and 1,000 in 1998, according to state officials at the Office for Exceptional Children.


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