Garden Academy Graduates First Student

by Mary Mann

Local coverage of Garden Academy’s first graduation ceremony conveys some of the magic of the day and highlights our efforts to help all our students progress. Congratulations to M.B. and his family!

Garden Academy Honors First Graduate
New Jersey’s newest private school for children with autism
transitions its very first student to his local school alongside peers

On Friday, January 28, 2011, Garden Academy celebrated its first graduation exercises, marking the commencement of a seven-year-old student from its intensive and individualized program for children with autism to his home district where he now attends first grade, fully mainstreamed with his peers.

Coming to Garden Academy at age three, student Michael B. has received an individualized education utilizing the most advanced research in the field of autism instruction. Garden Academy’s program has assisted him in language acquisition, social interaction, self-help skills, pre-academic and academic skills, play skills and behavior– and has prepared him to join his friends and neighbors at his community school. Notably, Garden Academy estimates that its intensive approach with Michael and its other students will save taxpayers millions in long-term care and financial support. “Michael stands as an example of what is possible with rigorously evaluated, effective education. There is a solid body of research showing that it is possible for about 40 percent of children with an autism diagnosis to be fully mainstreamed without a special aide if they enter an intensive and individualized program such as ours before the age of five,” said Dr. David W. Sidener, Garden Academy’s executive director and chief clinician. “The trouble is, despite the escalating diagnosis rates, these programs are in terribly short supply.” The commencement exercise featured remarks from Dr. Sidener, school principal Sidona Anderson, teachers, family members, and special guests.