PRESTONSBURG — Highlands Center for Autism opened this week, becoming the state's first full-time day school using applied behavior analysis to teach children with autism.
At an open house Thursday, director and psychologist Shelli Deskins said the school was her "dream come true."
The school opened with four students, each with ties to Eastern Kentucky. The school has received dozens of applications. Tuition is $60,000. Its methods are based on the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Autism, a renowned applied behavior analysis school.
Eventually, the school will grow, said Highlands Regional Medical Center CEO Bud Warman to about 150 people at the open house.
The hospital invested about $1 million in the school's start-up. A donation of $25,000 from the Rich Brooks Foundation was its first major gift, Warman said Thursday. Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is hosting a golf tournament to benefit the school Friday.
Moriah Kinzer, of Allen in Floyd County, said that after only three days in school, her 4-year-old Will is making progress learning to use the bathroom and carry his lunch box.
"He's a different child," Kinzer said, beaming.