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Merakey Education and Autism Center ALTOONA

WELCOME to Merakey Education and Autism Center ALTOONA
(Blair County | 814-944-3733)

The Merakey Education and Autism Center Altoona provides educational programming in full-time autistic support and full-time emotional support classrooms for students ages 5 through 21. A low student-to-staff ratio is maintained at all times to maximize learning. Applied behavior analysis, individualized programming, and outstanding speech therapy services make our autism program unique. The ultimate goal of the autism program is to help students achieve behavioral and academic milestones in order to transition to a less restrictive environment within their home school district.

Cognitive behavioral interventions and therapeutic instruction guided by a master's level Behavior Shaping Specialist enhance our emotional support program. Additionally, within our emotional support program we offer the Building Bridges School-Based Program for female students who are between 12 and 18 years of age. The Building Bridges programming includes integration of the six domains of healthy development (physical, intellectual, sexual, spiritual, emotional, and relational) throughout the educational day. The goal of the emotional support and Building Bridges program is to improve students' self-esteem and self-regulation skills in order to make healthy life choices while continuing to meet academic goals. Our center works in collaboration with the local school districts and community providers to offer individualized, quality programming for each student.

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School Address: 311 Lotz Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602 (view map)
School Phone Number: 814-944-3733
Education and Autism Services Administration Office Number: 855-530-4853

Name: Bridget Baker
Title: Director
Email: Bridget.Baker@merakey.org

Name: Joy Smith
Title: Administrative Assistant
Email: Joy.Smith@merakey.org
Jake - success My name is J.P Earhart, and I am a student at NHS School Altoona. I enjoy the fact that NHS moves at a slower pace. The teachers give us help when we need it. When I was in public school, math was my weakest subject. I was consistently failing because of the fast pace of the class. Now because of NHS and Ms. Lori, my math grade is at an all time high. Also because of NHS I have completed my first research paper on a career choice I have been interested in. I now realize through this paper that I have many options ahead of me. I have found that English is my favorite subject, and I might want to go into the English field someday. I am learning healthy ways to express myself and I am crafting my writing skills.

Ms. Lori has helped me learn transition skills, like cooking and helping out in the community that I can take with me in life. I have come from failing most of my classes and no idea where my future lies to being on the honor roll! I can see viable options for a future career thanks to NHS.

Jake - successMy name is Jake and I am a student at NHS School Altoona. There are a few things that I enjoy here. Miss Lori does a very good job at teaching and she is willing to help with many things. She has helped me pursue engineering by giving me the link to a website that I can use to continue to improve my math skills. This school has helped me improve my behavior in ways that I honestly cannot see. I have improved socially because of this school.

My classmates are easy to get along with when they are not acting up, and sometimes I wind up actually looking forward to being here because of my classmates. To put it in a few words, I like this school because of the improvements I have made here and how my class operates. I also like the smaller classes because I cannot survive in a class with a lot of students.

Xavier - success storyXavier enrolled in the autism support program at the NHS School in Altoona in February of 2012. He made great strides and achievements while at the Altoona School. When he first came to us he demonstrated problem behaviors in the form of physical aggression, property destruction and non-compliance. These problem behaviors usually occurred when Xavier was told "no" or a preferred activity or item was taken away from him. Xavier made significant improvement in these areas in a short amount of time by being able to appropriately respond to directives from staff.

Using his self-regulation skills, he also learned how to ask for help, request a break when needed and used more appropriate ways to gain attention from staff and peers! Xavier is a very helpful, thoughtful and well mannered boy. He loves to go on field trips, play sports and be competitive with his peers. Xavier returned back to his home school district in November of 2013! We are very proud of all of the progress Xavier has made will continue to make in a less restrictive environment with his typically developing peers.

JeffreyJeffrey is currently a 13-year old 7th grade student at NHS Schools Altoona. Jeffrey started at the Altoona school in 2009. When he started with us, Jeffrey struggled with managing his behaviors and emotions, often engaging in high-risk behaviors. Jeffrey also struggled academically and was far below grade level in the primary areas of math and reading.  At that time Jeffrey did not enjoy school and would often refuse to complete academic tasks. He could only read five words when he started at NHS and struggled in math as well. 

One of the first things we worked on with Jeffrey was identifying coping strategies that he could use when he became upset, frustrated, or angry.  Jeffrey was able to identify some of his strengths and interests, especially cooking. Over time, Jeffrey gained the ability to use his coping skills with prompting and at times independently. He started to open up to staff about his anger and frustrations and was able to appropriately process many of his feelings. Jeffrey also began to enjoy school as he started to learn new things. Now, as a 7th grader Jeffrey has substantially increased his reading ability and is now independently reading chapter books. He is proud of his ability to read and enjoys reading to his niece at home.  Jeffrey has also increased his math ability by four grade levels since 2009.

Jeffrey wants to be a chef after graduation from school and is working very hard to achieve this goal. The local vocational-technical school has a culinary arts program, and Jeffrey is working toward being able to attend that program in a few years.
Take a walk around our school and in the classroom!