DENVER - For some, an autism diagnosis can mean limited options for students who struggle to learn in a traditional classroom.
But an online program is helping students with autism find new ways to learn.
“We just started to look at different online schools and I said, let’s try Destinations, which used to be called Insight. And we just stayed with it,” said Anna White, an 18-year-old high school senior with Asperger’s.
Anna’s mother, Lisa White, said Destinations Career Academy of Colorado is a career-focused online public school.
The school offers tailored curriculum for college-bound students and a club called SkillsUSA for students who want to learn a trade.
Lisa White said Anna tried traditional classrooms in public and private schools but struggled to learn in those settings.
Lisa said Destinations Career Academy is allowing Anna to learn at home, in an environment where she feels comfortable and which allows her to set her own pace.
“She can review the lessons over and over. The classes she is taking, she can go back and watch the whole class again,” said Lisa White.
“They are willing to say, 'Hey can you try it this way if this doesn’t work,’ and things like that. ... (You can say,) 'I really don’t get this can you re-go over it with me after class to make sure I get it better?' They will do that. If you’re in a brick and mortar school they’ll say, 'I can’t right now. Can you please do it at a later date?'” said Anna.
Soon after starting school at Destinations Career Academy, Anna said her C grades turned into A’s. She’s now focused on her future.
“I’m ready to go to college and learn more for baking and business. … I would like to go to Johnson and Wales or to Pickens Tech," said Anna.
Anna said she eventually wants to open a bakery and hire others with autism.
“I want to work hard and show we can do, what others can,” said Anna.
According to the organization Autism Speaks, 1 in 59 children have been diagnosed with autism.
Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Most kids are diagnosed after turning 4 years old but autism can be diagnosed as early as age 2.
Anna and Lisa said they hope their story encourages more students with autism to explore their options until they find the right fit.