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Farrah Sonnenberg

Farrah Sonnenberg, founder of Sonnenberg School, stands in one of the classrooms at the school’s new location on Spring Street. The school is currently accepting applications and aims to help children with autism become accustomed to the norms of a regular classroom, along with acclimating typically developing children to special needs students.

MOUNT PLEASANT — A new endeavor to help children with autism adjust to school is preparing to begin its first year in Racine County.

Sonnenberg School, 9605 Spring St., is taking applications for preschool and kindergarten students for year-round schooling to begin in the fall, with plans to serve 20 to 30 students.

Farrah Sonnenberg, founder of Sonnenberg LLC and Sonnenberg School, said her school aims to treat children on the autism spectrum along with teaching regular -ducation students.

“You have the typically developed kids (interacting) with the special needs kids and that’s how you have inclusion,” Sonnenberg said. “It’s good for (all) kids.”

This is the second location of a Sonnenberg School, with the first located in Pleasant Prairie.

Sonnenberg is hosting summer camps for children with autism ages 3, 4 and 5 — exposing them to common public areas like parks and the Racine Zoo — and for regular education students, so they learn to feel comfortable around children with autism.

“We created a clinic-based camp … we wrap our curriculum, our treatment curriculum, intertwined throughout the day,” Sonnenberg said. “We bring their siblings in, we bring other kids in so they have those typically developing peers, too, which is why the Sonnenberg School started.”

A head start

The goal is to prepare children with autism for school at an early age by teaching them separately, but within the same building. And if the autistic children are ready to go into a classroom, the transition can then be smoother.

“A lot of kids that are in treatment can’t sit and do school work. That’s why we’re trying to start them young before their school ready,” Sonnenberg said.

Tuition for Sonnenberg School is $4,680 for the year. However, children receiving treatment for autism can be covered by insurance or Medicaid. There are also payment plans available to parents.

In February 2016, the first Sonnenberg School opened in Pleasant Prairie and administrators are still adjusting to the education process and finding the best way to teach students.

“A lot of what we learned the most is on the treatment side to get them ready,” Sonnenberg said. “There’s no two kids who are the same. That’s why it’s so challenging for people and teachers.”

“You have the typically developed kids (interacting) with the special needs kids and that’s how you have inclusion.”— Farrah Sonnenberg, founder of the Sonnenberg School

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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