Matthew Reardon Center is a unique organization located on Middleground Rd. in Savannah, Ga. The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism offers preschool for all young children, including children with autism and an accredited, ABA-based year-round day school for autistic children, teens and young adults. The academies are innovative, evidence-based educational environments where every child is valued and loved. Additionally, our advocacy team serves families impacted by special needs and self-advocates throughout southeast Georgia.
1 in 58 children in Georgia will be diagnosed
with autism (CDC, 2018). The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism is the only organization in southeast Georgia that operates an accredited, year-round day school for students with autism and one of only a handful of such programs in the entire state. Advance Academy students experience a communication-based, multi-therapeutic (speech, physical, occupational and music therapies) education in academics, social and life skills, and behavior self-management using evidence based ABA methodology.
Previously accredited by the GA Accreditation Commission for ages 5-18 years old, Advance Academy accreditation was recently modified to encompass students through age 21. During those additional three years, the primary focus will shift to GED preparation and development of appropriate workplace social skills.
Mr. Jack O’Connor, who is the President and CEO of the Matthew Reardon Center, dreamed of being an educator as a career. While attending University of Massachusetts for undergraduate studies in Psychology he selected courses in special education. He received a master’s degree in Education with a focus in Special Education and Teaching from Simmons University. O’Connor felt that the increasing prevalence of autism led him to seek jobs in the field. He served as Director of the Matthew Reardon Center before becoming President.
During an interview with Savannah Tribune student intern, Kayla Hughes, Mr. O’Connor spoke about the ABA principles used in a school setting. Low child to teacher ratios (4:1) permit staff to focus on each individual child’s development, goals, and progress. The goal of the school is to help provide social skills which allow the student to become as independent as possible to prepare for their next step in life. “We identify the specific needs of the individual, then develop strategy and ways to address those needs,” said Mr. O’Connor.
When asked what the greatest rewards you receive from being a mental health care provider were, Mr.O’Connor responded “seeing the progress of the students. A lot of our students have great strength in some areas, and we want to help them to overcome some of the challenges.”
Mr. O’Connor recognizes that there is a stigma attached to getting a diagnosis, but receiving the services is key to what helps the child. He believes, the earlier, the better.
The Early Learning Academy is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm
For more info please visit www.matthewreardon.org/ela.