Jackson autistic school’s closing worries parents

A regional school that serves children with autism will close its doors at the end of its summer session.

University of Mississippi Medical Center told parents that it plans to shut down the Mississippi Child Development Institute.

In a letter to parents dated June 5, UMC says it is working to create an autism clinic in the school’s place. The new program will not be open by the start of the new school year.

“Though we are working as quickly as we can, we will not have things in place for the coming school year,” the later states.

UMC opened the institute at the Jackson Medical Mall in 2003. Since then, it has served about 35 children ages 3 to 11 with autism and developmental delays.

Instead of pairing children by grades, the kids are taught according to their level of function.

Leah Price, founder of the nonprofit group Children’s Autism Support Team of Mississippi, said parents are now scrambling to find the next best educational options for their children.

“It’s very scary,” Price said. “A lot of the parents are afraid their children will regress.”

The institute was largely funded by the Mississippi Department of Education.

Pete Smith, a spokesman for the department of education, said the state is working to start a new program for autistic children.

“We will be working in conjunction with school districts,” Smith said. “It’s still in the developmental stages as to how the program will shape.”


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