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Autism/Special Needs Programs in the Phoenix area?


KikaBkmn March 28, 2012

We're relocating to the Phoenix area from Houston, TX soon and hoping to find a great Autism/Special Needs program within a public school for my 8 yr old son. Any suggestions would be so greatly appreciated!

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user5534771 April 27, 2014


I know it's been a while since you posted but I also know that it can be difficult finding a good fit when you have a student autism/special needs. I would recommend Gateway Academy in Scottsdale. The school is run by parents of an autistic boy. Gateway is pre-k through 12th grade school. They also have a program for high school graduates that offers an off-campus dorm and provides many levels of support ranging from academic to social. Hope this helps. Good luck!


user5325918 October 14, 2013

I am in Paradise Valley Unified School district. My four year old daughter attends Sunkids. However 2 hours a day is not enough and its only four days a week. I struggle because a daycare setting is too much for her. Any suggestions please let me know.


jvr3smama May 15, 2013

LaurelRyan- Why stay away from Paseo Verde?? My Son just completed his first year of preschool here for special education. What is your experience?


janyltremblay September 16, 2012

Hi Kika, I know the school systems in Phoenix as relating to this problem very well. You will not find a public school that will help you; they are awful. Especially stay away from Paradise Valley Unified School District, they will promise a lot, but they will not deliver and will allow your child to be bullied; their anti-bullyiing program is a joke as is their entire administration. There is a wonderful private school: Lexis Prep. If I were you and had to live and school in the Phoenix area I would only trust my child to this school or homeschool. The school system their is very poor and the children brutal.


AZMommyX5 August 25, 2012

Hi, I just saw this & wanted to know if you found a good school yet? We are in Desert Ridge and in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. After trying mainstreaming him for Kindergarten and half of 1st Grade, we switched him to a contained classroom in Scottsdale within our district, Desert Springs Prep. And it has been wonderful, so far. Great teacher and OT, ST, School Psych, Paras, everyone! Good Luck!!!


Sydneybird11 August 7, 2012

Hi - I am not sure if any of you have found any help for your children or not. We had a long.... time to research before we came to Arizona as to which school to put our two special needs daughters in. My dh interviewed for nine months before we actually knew he was offered the position. We chose to live in the Paradise Valley School District in Scottsdale. I called and spoke to various heads of the special ed departments in various school districts and called the actual schools they recommended. I spoke to the psychologists in addition to the teachers at each school. We were looking for schools that had an emphasis on the Arts too. But we had to think of a priority of special ed for our daughters. We chose Desert Shadows Middle School due the help the children receive and they do have such small class sizes. Our daughters English class and their reading/writing class has 8-10 children and other classes science/social studies have 22-26 (max) children. The teachers are absolutely amazing and we sure can tell because we were in some pretty bad schools in the Beaverton School District in Portland, Oregon. The Principal is amazing and the teachers have been there for 10-15/20 years. The children have Resource time and they do not believe it taking away the children's extra-curricular activities to be in the resource room. All of the Academies are amazing and they really include special needs children in the school - they are not left out and they are made to feel loved and welcomed by all. You will see them in choir - children with CP up on the stage with all the other children and these are children with major CP and they are singing their hearts out with all the other children and they go to the major singing events around the country (if you wish). If you want extra curricular activities for your child, they have them. It is just amazing to see our children accepted and loved - nothing like what we experienced in Portland, Oregon. Please if you have any questions - let me know.


my2babies9806 June 13, 2012

I have a 14 year old with autism, and he has had so many issues with the schools that I finally pulled him and decided to home school him. We use Arizona Virtual Academy. The work is individualized, he can do it on his time table, he will be able to get a regular degree, they do field trips 4 times a year, and since its a public charter school that happens to be offered online, it's completely free. And if you have low enough income, they will even give ou a free desktop computer, printer with scanner, and a mic. My son loves it so much that I just enrolled my 5 year old to start kindergarten with them. We're waiting for her computer to be delivered.


ARMorgan May 21, 2012

Im not sure if you are still looking for programs but you might want to check out Wellspring Education Center.

It is located in Gilbert, AZ.


laurelryan May 4, 2012


I highly recommend the Madison School District. My 12 year old son has autism and he has received services now for 10 years through the Department of Developmental Disabilities. I am from Houston and had an opportunity to move back there 6 years ago and did not because i did not want to give up the services my son receives here. If you end up in the Peoria school district, stay away from Paseo Verde school. I wish you all the best.


jrmrags April 24, 2012

I have two sons with autism and I am very pleased with the autism classes at Scottsdale Unified School District. Specifically at Cherokee Elementary and Pima Elementary. The classes even have a separate sensory room adjoining the classrooms. I moved to this district for these programs and trained teachers and therapists.

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