Students are referred by their school district or privately by their parents to attend Sierra Academy and are generally in grades 1–12 (aged 5 to 22). They face disabilities in a variety of areas, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Mild and Moderate Intellectual Disabilities, Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech-Language Impairments, Emotional Disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Orthopedic Impairments, and Other Health Impairments
We are proud to employ certified special education teachers, who are certified through the Arizona Department of Education and have crisis intervention training. We have contracted services providers in counseling, speech, occupational and physical therapies.
Devoted to children with autism and other learning disabilities, Sierra Academy provides comprehensive, individualized programs that address each student’s unique challenges. Small classrooms and one-on-one attention provide your child with tailored instruction. Our research-based learning model builds on your child’s strengths while addressing identified challenges. Enabling and empowering students to direct their own lives is key to our approach.
Our sensory-based education model delivers a personalized and individual approach that builds confidence and competence. Our academic programs are available in one-on-one or small-group settings that especially help children who are challenged by overstimulated senses. Highlights include:
- Sensory-Based Education Model
- Emphasis on Communication Needs
- Interactive Rotational Tutorials
- Individualized Programming
- High School Diploma for All Graduates
Above all else, we want our students with autism to explore their full capacities and achieve their full capabilities heading into adulthood. Transition and life planning services pave the way for successful independent living, rewarding postsecondary schooling experiences, and productive and fulfilling careers.
Sierra Academy prepares your child for a variety of postgraduation pursuits, enrollment in technical/vocational schools, or employment in the workforce. We focus on workplace skills in the following areas:
- Life Skills Training: theme-based activities that teach students daily skills for living and socializing successfully
- Vocational Skills: coursework and both on- and off-campus activities that expose students to a wide range of trades and professions
- Career Readiness: students create a portfolio that contains grade-level-specific items and lessons such as:
- Interest inventory
- Work values
- Individual learning styles
- Resume writing
- Electronic debit card
Similar to our custom programs, our workplace skills development curriculum is ability-specific to your child. We use hands-on instructional practices and interactive learning methodologies delivered by a multidisciplinary team. Our diverse transition curriculum consists of numerous components that greatly appeal to your child’s interests and maximize engagement.
Social Skills Training
The special education teachers at Sierra Academy focus on helping students develop age-appropriate social and emotional skills, particularly those that relate to improving their classroom performance. Our teachers concentrate on the individual development of each student to increase self-esteem, heighten interpersonal relations, and improve scholastic achievements. Through the various activity-based lessons and training modalities we employ in our social skills curriculum, students learn how to work with others, make positive choices, accept responsibility, and peacefully resolve conflicts.
Physical therapy services are provided for students with gross motor challenges, postural problems, balance and coordination deficits, muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, and/or abnormal gait. Our therapists work on the foundational skills necessary for the performance of daily functional activities.
Language development plays an important role in clarification of the required skills of thinking, performing, and problem solving. Thus, each eligible student receives an individualized and synchronized speech program, created by our certified speech pathologists and concentrated on such areas as expressive/receptive language skills, speech production skills, auditory processing, pragmatic/social language skills, voice, and fluency. Engaging in appropriate topic-relevant conversations, establishing pragmatic problem-solving skills, improving decision making, utilizing appropriate vocabulary, and developing conceptual understanding are all components of the strategic instruction of Sierra Academy’s SLP (speech-language pathologist).
We meet the demands of our students’ environment through occupational therapy, which assists sensory, perceptual, and motor skills. Our therapist works directly with the children on foundational skills for motor planning, sensory processing, organization, and visual motor integration. Integration of OT within the classroom by our core teachers ensures that each student’s therapy plan complements their responsibilities outside the therapy setting in everyday experiences.
Promoting positive school behaviors and the development of appropriate social skills form the basis of our school-wide Behavior Management System. Through this multifaceted program, students learn to demonstrate positive behaviors that facilitate greater academic successes. Implemented by staff trained in crisis intervention and behavior modification, our behavioral program capitalizes on students’ feelings of personal significance and self-management abilities.
- ESA (Empowerment Scholarship Account): an account established to provide an education for qualified disabled students. The program’s main purpose is to provide options for parents to freely choose how and where to educate their children with financial assistance from the state.
- AZ Department of Education: Parent Network
- Raising Special Kids: provides, support, information, resources, training, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities or special health needs in Arizona
- AZ Assist: a community of families of teens and young adults on the autism spectrum, where self-advocacy and independence are promoted and encouraged
- Autism Society of Phoenix
- SAARC (Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center)
- CSN: an Arizona networking and education organization devoted to helping those working with children and adolescents connect and stay informed
- Hope Group
- Touchstone Health Services