One preschool in Mobile was developed specifically for children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities. It’s called The Little Tree. There are also typically developing children in each classroom who serve as peer models. Students between the ages of 2 ½ and 6 are accepted. There’s a certified teacher in each classroom, and no more than 12 students per room. This morning we’re taking you there to meet some of the students.
Little Grace is one of the students at The Little Tree Preschool. She’s been diagnosed with nonverbal autism, so her iPad is her voice. It’s how she communicates her wants and needs with her teachers.
Grace and her teacher, Whitney Tyndall had this conversation while through Grace’s iPad. “Tell me what you want. Open? Tell me what you want.” I want a snack. Green.” “Okay, good telling me.”
The Little Tree’s not only a school for children like Grace, but also for typically developing students.
“They watch us model the correct way to respond to difficult situations. We’re a positive environment, punishment is not allowed and neither are reprimands so they turn into little teachers and little leaders themselves,” said Tyndall.
Tyndall says she’s seen enormous transformations in all of her students.
“I’ve seen a huge benefit in them learning compassion in those who are different from themselves and understanding those differences are okay,” she said.
She believes the sooner children realize that, the better off they’ll be later in life.
Students at The Little Tree go to school year round, and they have five full school days each week.You can find out how to enroll your kids in classes at The Little Tree when you visit http://www.learning-tree.org/preschool/mobile.html.