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Education

Learn about educational resources, supports and specialized schools in Arizona.

Every child in the United States has a right to a public education, this includes children with Autism and other disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is the federal law that guarantees a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for every student with a disability. The law’s 2004 reauthorization (P.L. 108-446) further defined children’s rights to educational services and strengthened the role of parents/care providers in their children’s educational planning process. This means that the education for students enrolled in public school should come at no cost and should be appropriate for their age, ability, and developmental level.

The law specifies that educational placement should be on an individual basis, not solely on the diagnosis or category of disability. Parents/care providers have a voice in the educational process. But keep in mind that IDEA requires that an appropriate educational program be provided, but not necessarily the one that is “ideal” for every child. It is important that parents/care providers work with the school to get the educational support and services the student needs.

Educational planning for students with Autism often addresses a wide range of skill development, including academics, communication and language, social skills, self-help skills, behavioral issues, self-advocacy, and leisure-related skills. It’s important to consult with professionals trained specifically in Autism to help a child benefit from their school program. Obtaining a range of opinions is also useful. Scroll down to read more about the IEP process. 

* This listing should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation either by the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix or its Board of Directors. It is merely a collection of individuals/entities/resources that have been deemed helpful or recommended by consumers. Please notify us if any information needs to be updated.

Local Resources

National Resources

Specialized Schools in Arizona

Abbie School
Services: K-12 School
Phone: (520) 300-6103
Address: 5870 E. 14th Street, Tucson, AZ
Website: https://abbieschool.org

ACCEL
Services: K-12 School, Adult Day Center, BISTA Center -ABA for children 18 months – 13 years old.
Locations in Metro Phoenix, Tempe, Buckeye,  Mesa
Website: www.accel.org

Arizona Autism Charter Schools, Inc.
Services: Tuition free, Autism focused school. Offers in person K-12 and online school.
Locations in Phoenix and Peoria
Website: www.autismcharter.org

ASCEND
Services: K-12 School
Phone: (928) 443-9290
Address: 3021 Centerpointe East Dr. Prescott, AZ 86305
Website: https://azautismascend.org

Autism Academy for Education & Development
Services: Elementary, Middle School, and High School, Online options
Phone: (623) 439-5368
Locations in Gilbert, Tempe, Peoria, Glendale, Tucson
Website: www.aaed.org

AZ Aspire Academy
Services: Elementary, Middle School, and High School
Phone: (480) 420-6630
Locations in Tempe, Queen Creek, Litchfield Park, Scottsdale, Tucson
Website: www.azaspireacademy.com

Banner Children’s Academy
Services: 4-12 School
Phone: (480) 827-5348
Address: 1410 West 10th Place, Tempe, AZ 85281
Website: click here

Beyond Autism
Services: Year-round, full day, comprehensive program serving students ages 6-22.
Phone: (602) 541-9743
Address: 555 W. Glendale Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85021
Website: www.beyond-autism.com

Breakthrough Academy
Services: K-8 School
Phone: (866) 620-9380
Address: 3427 E. Bell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85032
Website: www.btacademy.org

The Children’s Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies 
Services: Educational, therapeutic and habilitative programs for children with developmental disabilities ages 3-22.  Phone: (623) 915-0345 Address: 5430 West Glenn Drive, Glendale, AZ, 85301 
Website: https://thechildrenscenteraz.org



Empower Academy
Services: K-12 School
Phone: (480) 476-1171
Address: 22050 E Queen Creek Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Website: www.empoweracademyeducation.com

Gateway Academy
Services: 6-12 School that “supports a pure population of students with High Functioning Autism.”
Phone: (480) 998-1071
Address: 3939 E. Shea Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85028
Website: https://gatewayacademy.us

Hi-Star Center for Children 
Services: Elementary Special Education on Campus and Online Phone: (602) 548-3038 Address: 5807 North 43rd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85019 Website: https://histarcenter.com

Integrative Learning Academy
Services: A Christ-centered, K-5 private microschool fostering diverse thinking, inclusion, autonomy, and engagement. For both neurodiverse and neurotypical students to learn and grow both emotionally and academically so they can lead fulfilling lives and build a better world.  
Phone: (303) 551-4902
Located in Peoria, Arizona 85383
Website: https://integrativelearningacademy.com

 

Jones-Gordon School
Services: An innovative private school serving 1st­–12th grade students who have dyslexia and co-occurring learning differences.
Phone: (480) 563-5588
Address: 4800 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Website: https://jonesgordon.org

Kids Prep Academy
Services: Preschool: Toddler, Early PreSchool, Preschool & Pre-K, Special Needs
Phone: (602) 772-1657
Address: 1930 West Pinnacle Peak Road Phoenix, AZ 85027
Website: www.kpaaz.com

Lexington
Services: K-12 School, After School, Summer Camps, Adult Day Programming
Phone: (480) 900- 1009
Locations in Show Low, Mesa, Phoenix, Maryvale, Taylor, South Mountain
Website: www.lexingtonservices.com

L.I.F.E. (Lauren’s Institute for Education)
Services: K-12 School, Transition Programs (14-21), Summer Programs, Day Treatment and Employment (DTE), Behavioral Support (BPS), Therapies, and Community Services
Phone: (480) 621-8361 
Address: 1305 South Gilbert Road, Gilbert, AZ 85296
Website: www.laurensinstitute.org

Life Development Institute: Academy of Lifelong Learning
Services: LDI serves day high school students grades 9-12, post secondary progrgams, summer academy age 16-24, adult residential sutdents 18-30.
Phone: (623) 773-1545
Address: 5940 W Union Hills Dr. Ste #D-200 Glendale, AZ 85308
Website: www.discoverldi.com

New Way Academy
Services: K-12 School
Phone: (602) 389-8600
Address: 5048 E. Oak St.  Phoenix, AZ 85008
Website: www.newwayacademy.org

Pathways
Services: K-12 School & Evaluation Center
Locations in Gilbert, Tucson, Mesa
Website: www.pathwaysschool.org

Polaris Academy
Services: K-8 academy for Autistic and neurodivergent children. 
Phone: (480) 903-1710
Address: 1440 South Clearview Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85209
Website: www.polarisacademy.org

PS Academy
Services: K-12 School
Phone: (480) 309-4792
Address: 5222 East Baseline Road, #108 Gilbert, AZ 85234
Website: www.psacademyarizona.com 

Red Oak Autism Academy
Services: Pre-K through 12 School
Phone: (480) 448-8906
Address: 5050 E. University Drive, Suite #110-114, Mesa, AZ 85205
Website: www.redoakautismacademy.com

ReThink Microschools
Services: We serve neurodiverse students in grades 6-12. 
Phone: (602) 892-0099
Address: 1820 W Elliot Rd., Gilbert, AZ 85233

Rise Learning Academy
Services: K-12
Phone: (480) 703-5614
Address: 20913 East Ocotillo Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Website: www.RiseLearningAcademy.org

SARRC Community School
Services: Ages 15 months – 5 years old
Phone: (602) 606-9806
Locations in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale
Website: https://autismcenter.org/sarrcs-community-school

STAR Autism Academy
Services: Serving students with severe language, communication, learning & behavioral needs. STAR Autism Academy has an overall program for children between the ages of 5 and 14. 
Phone: (602) 548-3038
Address: 
5807 N 43rd Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85019
Website: www.starautismacademy.com

St. Dominic Savio Academy
Services: K-12 and Early Intervention
Phone: (480) 659-5456
Address: 550 West Warner Road, Chandler, AZ 85225
Website: www.stdomsavio.com

The United School for Autism
Services: 1-12+ School
Phone: (480) 860-1339
Address: 9590 East Shea Blvd.  Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Website: www.theunitedschool.com

 

Thriving Minds Academy
Services: K-5 School
Phone: (480) 806-8000
Address: 850 S Ironwood #110, Apache Junction, AZ 85120
Website: www.thrivingmindsaz.com

True North Academy
Services: A private microschool serving Scottsdale and the surrounding areas. Offers individualized learning plans (ILPs) for elementary-aged students in a small class setting.  Our pods have one lead teacher and six students.
Phone: (480) 622-2049
Website: www.truenorthaz.org

Victory Autism Academy
Services: K-12 with Speech, Occupational and Physical therapies, Animal, Music, Art, Exercise, Yoga
Phone: (623) 248-8624
Locations: Goodyear Elementary, Goodyear Middle/High, Phoenix Elementary, Queen Creek Elementary
Website: www.victoryautismacademy.com

Tutoring

Foundations in Reading
Expanding the learning boundaries and
building confidence in children with Dyslexia. Online tutoring.
Website: www.foundationsinreading.biz

On-Track Tutoring
Provides Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and the Phoenix Metro area with one-on-one private tutoring and academic support services, including executive function training and reading intervention using research-validated multisensory literacy programs. Serves students in primary grades through college.
Website: https://jonesgordon.org/ott

Smart Cactus LLC
We specialize in areas such as English, Writing, Math (up to Algebra II), Science, Study Skills, and Executive Functioning. Currently serving the West Valley.
Website: www.smartcactustutoring.com

Book Recommendations

  • The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Education Child (2007 Edition) – Lawrence Siegel
  • You’re Going to Love this Kid: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom– Paula Kluth
  • Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy (2nd Edition) – Pam Wright & Pete Wright
  • Special Education Law – Peter & Pam Wright
  • The Complete IEP Guide (2007 Edition) – Lawrence Siegel
  • Autism: Asserting your Child’s Rights to a Special Education – David A. Sherman
  • The Paraprofessional’s Guide to the Inclusive Classroom – Mary Beth Doyle

IEP Information

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written document that outlines a child’s education. As the name implies, the education program should be tailored to the individual student to provide the maximum benefit. The keyword is individual. A program that is appropriate for one child with Autism may not be right for another. The IEP is the cornerstone for the education of a child with a disability. It should identify the services a child needs so that he/she will meet their learning objectives during the school year. It is also a legal document that outlines:

  • The child’s special education plan (goals for the school year)
  • Services needed to help the child meet those goals
  • A method for evaluating the student’s progress

The objectives, goals, and selected services are not just a collection of ideas on how the school may educate a child; the school district must educate your child in accordance with the IEP. To develop an IEP, the local education agency officials and others involved in the child’s educational program meet to discuss education-related goals. By law, the following people must be invited to attend the IEP meeting:

  • One or both of the child’s parents/care providers
  • The child’s teacher or prospective teacher
  • A representative of the public agency (local education agency), other than the child’s teacher, who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education
  • The child, if appropriate
  • Other individuals at the discretion of the parent(s)/care provider(s) or agency (e.g. a physician, advocate, or neighbor)

IEP meetings must be held at least once annually, but may be held more often if needed. Parents/care providers may request a review or revision of the IEP at any time. While teachers and school personnel may come prepared for the meeting with an outline of goals and objectives, the IEP is not complete until it has been thoroughly discussed and all parties agree to the terms of the written document. Parents/care providers are entitled to participate in the IEP meeting as equal participants with suggestions and opinions regarding their child’s education. They may bring a list of suggested goals and objectives, as well as, additional information that may be pertinent to the IEP meeting.

The local education agency (LEA) must attempt to schedule the IEP meeting at a time and place agreeable to both school staff and parents/care providers. School districts must notify parents/care providers in a timely manner so that they will have an opportunity to attend. The notification must indicate the purpose of the meeting (i.e., to discuss transition services, behavior problems interfering with learning, academic growth).

After an evaluation has been done, the IEP meeting will be scheduled. Parents/care providers are entitled by law to attend and participate in this meeting, and must be given ample notification of the time and place. Parents/care providers should also request a copy of the evaluation results prior to the meeting so you have time to review them.

When preparing for your IEP meeting, consider the following:

  • What is your vision for your child – for the future as well as the next school year?
  • What are your child’s strengths, needs, and interests?
  • What are your major concerns about his/her education?
  • What has and has not worked in your child’s education thus far?
  • Does the evaluation fit with what you know about your child?
  • Are there any special factors to consider, such as communication needs or a positive behavioral intervention plan?

While the IEP meeting is meant to develop an education plan for the student, it is also an opportunity for families to share information about their child and their expectations and what techniques have worked at home. If for some reason parents/care providers disagree with the proposed IEP, there is recourse. 

Content of the IEP
The IEP should address all areas in which a child needs educational assistance. These can include academic and non-academic goals if the services to be provided will result in educational benefit for the child. All areas of projected need, such as social skills (playing with other children, responding to questions), functional skills (dressing, crossing the street), and related services (occupational, speech, or physical therapy) can also be included in the IEP.

The IEP (see statute text) should list the setting in which the services will be provided and the professionals who will provide the service. Content of an IEP must include the following:

  • A statement of the child’s present level of educational performance. This should include both academic and nonacademic aspects of his/her performance.
  • A statement of specific, well-defined goals that the student may reasonably accomplish within the next 12 months. These goals should directly relate to a student’s disability-related needs, and include baseline data supported by the student’s present level of academic and functional performance. It must be clear how goal progress will be monitored and reported
  • If your child takes an alternative assessment aligned with alternate achievement standards (ex: Common Core Essential Elements), their IEP goals must include a description of short-term benchmarks or objectives. These objectives help parents/caregivers and educators know whether a student is progressing, or is in need of additional support.
  • A description of all specific special education and related services, including individualized instruction and related support and services to be provided (e.g., occupational, physical, and speech therapy; transportation; recreation). This includes the extent to which the child will participate in regular educational programs.
  • The initiation date and duration of each of the services, as determined above, to be provided (this can include extended school year services). You may include the person who will be responsible for implementing each service.
  • If your child is 16 years of age or older, the IEP must include a description of transition services (a coordinated set of activities to assist the student in movement from school to post-secondary education, employment, or other activities).