The Faison School, established to serve the needs of children with autism, has seen many changes since its founding in 1999, the most recent being the opening of its new facilities on Byrd Avenue in April. The new location will provide space for an expected enrollment of 70 students next June, up from 63 now. Though the private school has always served students ranging in age from 2 to 22, the new campus will place particular emphasis on students ages 16 to 22, with an upgraded program focusing on life skills and employment.
The vocational curriculum will incorporate student preferences into job training, which occurs in the classroom and in the community. Eventually, the school plans to open an employment center for autistic people over age 22, says Wendy Kreuter, vice president of operation and finance for Faison. The curriculum also includes life skills, such as personal care, cooking and shopping.
The school partners with Virginia Commonwealth University's department of psychiatry, which gives the school access to cutting-edge research and teaching methods.
Faison works with Hopewell's school system, assisting with the opening of special-education classrooms for autistic children, and the school consults with the City of Richmond's schoolsystem on matters concerning autistic students.