Kennedy Krieger Institute Expands Autism Education Services Into Washington, DC Metropolitan Area

Specialty Autism School Opens Today in Montgomery County; Features

Individualized Programs, High Staff to Student Ratio, Community and

Work-Based Learning

Sep 18, 2007, 01:00 ET from Kennedy Krieger Institute

    BALTIMORE, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Kennedy
 Krieger Institute, in partnership with Montgomery County, officially opens
 a new school for students ages 10-21 with moderate-to-severe cases of
 Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. The
 Kennedy Krieger School will be the only specialty autism school of its kind
 in the county. This opening comes at a critical time, with more autistic
 students in Montgomery County than any other county in Maryland and as
 autism rates are on the rise nationwide.
     Kennedy Krieger Institute was selected to open the school through a
 competitive bidding process conducted by Montgomery County Public Schools,
 one of the top public school systems in the country. The school will
 feature individualized programs with a high staff to student ratio. The
 school also offers a new multi-sensory room that uses lights, sounds,
 aromas and textures to promote learning for autistic students, as well as a
 new, interactive, technology-driven teaching tool used to provide
 specialized accommodations and modifications for learning. A key academic
 and curriculum goal is to apply the skills students learn in the classroom
 in a community setting, as research has shown that teaching skills in
 context is more effective than in isolation. To meet this goal, regularly
 scheduled opportunities for community and work- based learning experiences
 will be incorporated into each student's weekly routines to prepare them
 for transition to post-graduation life.
     "The opening of the new school represents Kennedy Krieger's dedication
 and commitment to expanding our highly specialized, interdisciplinary
 autism services to students in the greater DC metropolitan area," said
 Linda Brandenburg, Director of School Autism Services at the Kennedy
 Krieger Institute. "Our goal is to provide needed autism education for
 children as close to home as possible and to help them transition smoothly
 into their teenage and adult years."
     In order to meet and exceed the educational needs of the children it
 serves in all locations across the state, Kennedy Krieger draws upon highly
 qualified, trained and dedicated specialists. Kennedy Krieger recently
 announced the promotion of Linda Brandenburg, formerly the Director of
 Kennedy Krieger's LEAP Program (Lifeskills and Education for Students with
 Autism and other Pervasive Behavioral Challenges), to Director of School
 Autism Services for all school programs. This new position is charged with
 ensuring consistency across all Kennedy Krieger programs and along the full
 continuum of autism-related services so that interventions are aligned to
 state and national standards. Ms. Brandenburg's 15 years of experience and
 post- graduate work in the area of autism make her uniquely qualified to
 assist program directors in developing and implementing the best possible
 services for Kennedy Krieger's students.
     In recent years, Kennedy Krieger has seen a dramatic increase in the
 number of autism students enrolled in their school programs. Ten years ago,
 twenty-five percent of the students attending their school programs were on
 the autism spectrum. That number has more than doubled, and today
 approximately sixty-five percent of their students have autism. While the
 Montgomery County School is currently at capacity, future class size will
 expand, with a maximum of 45 students expected in the next three years. To
 comply with current regulations, all student referrals must come through
 the student's public school administrator.
     In addition to the Montgomery County School, Kennedy Krieger is in the
 process of launching a new hands-on autism training program for public
 school teachers. Professionals participating in the Model Demonstration
 Program will be immersed in an autism classroom for six hours a day,
 observing and actively engaging in intervention, and receiving systematic
 guidance in all aspects of the intervention delivery and evaluation from
 autism intervention experts. Beginning in the summer of 2008, applications
 for teacher candidates to the Model Demonstration Program will be
 available, with the first cohort of trainees to begin in September 2008.
     Kennedy Krieger's Montgomery County School and new Model Demonstration
 Program underscore the Institute's commitment to helping schools meet the
 requirements of current federal education legislation (the Individuals with
 Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA), which mandates that schools must
 provide options to meet the educational needs of mild-to-severe ASD
     About Autism
     Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is the nation's fastest growing
 developmental disorder, with current incidence rates estimated at 1 in 150
 children. This year more children will be diagnosed with autism than AIDS,
 diabetes and cancer combined, yet profound gaps remain in our understanding
 of both the causes and cures of the disorder. Continued research and
 education about developmental disruptions in individuals with ASD is
 crucial, as early detection and intervention can lead to improved outcomes
 in individuals with ASD.
     About the Kennedy Krieger Institute
     Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and
 adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord, the
 Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD serves more than 13,000
 individuals each year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and
 community services and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a
 wide range of services for children with developmental concerns mild to
 severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the
 understanding of how disorders develop while pioneering new interventions
 and earlier diagnosis. For more information on Kennedy Krieger Institute,

SOURCE Kennedy Krieger Institute