Local autism academy expanding as children diagnoses rise in SC

Local autism academy expanding as children diagnoses rise in SC

The number of children with autism in South Carolina is going up. According to the South Carolina Autism Society, more than 50,000 have the disorder.

An academy in Mount Pleasant geared towards treating kids with autism has grown a lot bigger.

It's just in time for Autism Awareness Month.

The new and improved building for the Charleston Autism Academy now has enough space for 20 children to have their own classrooms. It's just over 3 times bigger than the old building.

The goal is to give specialized care to kids with autism, a neurological disorder that affects the way the brain works.

Misenhelter said, "There's not an inability to learn, they just learn differently. I've heard it described as they have a different operating system."

Laura Misenhelter is the president of the board of trustees for the academy and she also has a 17-year-old son with autism. He was the first child to attend the academy five years ago.

Misenhelter said, "You're looking at whether or not the child is toilet trained, can they write, can they read."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 1 in 68 children across the nation are now being diagnosed with some form of autism. Boys are four to five times more likely to have the disorder.

Duane Deweese said, "I have a son Stephen, he's 10. He's been going to Charleston Autism Academy for about 2 years now.

"Over the years, the academy has helped nearly 30 families. "To be honest, I've heard of autism but I didn't know much about it. My son was diagnosed at 4 and we had to learn a lot about it," said Deweese.

Misenhelter says it will take more than just the new building to continue helping children with autism.

"Awareness is good, acceptance is better; help is what we really need," said Misenhelter.

The new location of the Charleston Autism academy is at 930 Pine Hallow Road in Mount Pleasant.

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