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In The News: Sarah Dooley Center for Autism student returns to public school

Children with autism experience and interact with the world in unique ways. Sometimes, they display maladaptive behaviors because of communication challenges, social skills deficits, and other related issues.

“In the case of Ilya, he was your classically presenting child on the autism spectrum,” said Adam Dreyfus, senior director of the Villa’s Sarah Dooley Center for Autism (SDCA). “He had almost no functional communication skills, he had almost no functional social skills, and he had really intense behaviors that served to isolate him.”

Ilya’s mother, Svitlana, said their family came to the U.S. from Ukraine to give him the opportunity at an education.

“In Ukraine, kids with special needs do not go to school. They stay at home. I, like other mothers, want my son to be independent,” she said.

SDCA staff worked with Ilya’s parents to build his communication skills and reduce behaviors by opening his world through regular community-based instruction. With specialized treatment, Ilya was able to gain the skills he needed to successfully transition to his zoned public school, where he is thriving today.

Find out more about Ilya’s inspirational journey is this segment of Virginia Currents by PBS. Watching him grow has been an honor for our team1

Today, Ilya, We tackled all of those

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