New inclusion program for autistic students - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

New inclusion program for autistic students

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MOSS BLUFF, LA (KPLC) -

It's a new program that has shown some big improvements. Saint Theodore Holy Family Catholic School in Moss Bluff has a new inclusion program for autistic students.

It's the first year for the program at the school but it's already benefiting those with autism and other students as well. The program mixes high functioning autistic children into the regular classrooms. 

"If you'd have told me a year ago that he was doing what he is now, I would've called you a liar. I would've been like, 'Oh no, not my Brady,' " said Jill DeMeritt, a mother of an autistic student.

DeMeritt's 7-year-old son Brady has autism and is enrolled in the inclusion program. DeMeritt knows the program is helping her son grow as a student. 

"That was why we chose to have him here, so that he could have one-on-one attention, but also get the socialization and the full classroom inclusion and get the main curriculum there with the rest of the class," she said.

And something like this isn't just new for DeMeritt and her son, it's new for the teachers and other students as well. 

"I was really nervous at first. I didn't know what to do," said second grade teacher Sherry Pelloquin. This is the first year she's had autistic children in her classroom.

"At first, I think that it was a challenge, but then the drastic difference from the beginning of the year until now has been amazing," Pelloquin said.

Especially with the help from students in the classroom.

"We do a lot of group work and so they help them with the work. If they don't know, I had a student ask me 'How do I ask him that question? How do I work this? How do I reword it?' and I told her and it just went from there," Pelloquin said. 

DeMeritt said the program has been great for Brady socially. "And they're (the students) always there to kind of pat him on the back and show him what to do."

Pelloquin said the program is also teaching the kids in the regular classrooms who are now passing along their knowledge and lessons to the autistic students.

For the program's first year, six autistic children enrolled at Holy Family Catholic School and those six children are expected to return next school year. 

"It makes such a difference to a mother that you know they are getting the instruction they need, but also that socialization, the individual instruction. It's just all around just the right choice to put him here," DeMeritt said.

For more information on the inclusion program, call Saint Theodore Holy Family Catholic School in Moss Bluff at (337) 855-9465.

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