SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) —There is a unique early education program in San Diego run by Rady Children’s Hospital that is changing young lives. It’s a place where autistic children can thrive alongside their typically developing peers.
Alexa's Playc is a program of Rady Children's Hospital and is for kids18 months through kindergarten-age.
"Alexa's Playc is an inclusion preschool program for children with autism and also for typically developing children,” said behavior specialist Nora Comacho.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 110 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
"I've seen that children with autism are more likely sometimes to learn from peers than adults trying to teach them something,"” said Comacho.
Children on the spectrum learn valuable social skills while typically-developing kids learn empathy and how to interact with those who might be different from them.
Jocelyn McCullough's 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter Culleen has autism.
"She actually had speech delays,” said Jocelyn. “She struggles with making eye contact."
Jocelyn says in the first few months at Alexa's Playc, Culleen's language has expanded.
"[At] a lot of public schools a lot of the kids with autism are separated from their peers and put in special education and don't get to learn from peers,” said Jocelyn.
Cheryl Gorman's nearly 5-year-old son, Grant, does not have autism and she thinks Alexa's Playc sets a great example for him.
"I think it’s a great example of what real life is like,” said Cheryl. “It’s really mutually beneficial because it helps teach him the good behaviors that he should be practicing and help others as they are in their learning journey as well."