Guilford Co. school helping teens with autism

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JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- The Christine Joyner Greene Education Center in Jamestown has been open for eight months and teachers say the larger classrooms and technology are helping foster growth in their autistic students.

The Christine J. Greene Education is a $6.5 million building that opened in August 2013 for high school autistic students.

Principal Sarah Nachtrab said the average class size is five to eight children to give one on one attention to students.

The classrooms are larger than the previous McIver Education Center and allows for teachers to arrange the classroom in a way that works for the students.

Students have access to SMART Boards and iPads. Teachers can play music on a surround sound system and even dim the florescent lights for students with sensory issues.

Nachtrab said all of the methods and lesson tools are research based.

Parent Krystal Ketner is the mother of 17-year-old Michael Ketner, who lives with a severe form of non-verbal autism.

Ketner said that the encouraging staff and new facility has made a difference in the life of her son, who is making progress to become independent.

"The heart of the school was the staff and we're so fortunate that we have that same heart here," Ketner said. "My son is on the more severely affected end of the spectrum and we do expect that he will require a significant amount of support through his lifetime even though he is making continued progress."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report case that one in 68 children will develop some form of the autism spectrum disorder. The Autism Society of North Carolina said that probability for our state is one in 58.

Ketner and Michael's teacher Melissa Hosey hope that the recent statistic will improve the opportunities for research and understanding of the disorder.

"I think it open the door for more research on autism -- what strategies help folks not just in the educational system but as they become adults and transition out," Hosey said.

The Christine Greene Education Center is equipped for well over 100 students; about 68 students are currently enrolled.