The Foundation School of Autism—San Antonio is an open enrollment charter school designed to provide the best possible education for young children on the autism spectrum. On November 2, 2020, the Foundation School of Autism began accepting enrollment applications for the 2021–2022 school year. Open enrollment continues until January 15, 2021, and the lottery will be on January 25, 2021. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about the Foundation School of Autism in San Antonio and take steps to enroll your child for the next school year.
About the Foundation School of Autism
Since its founding in 2010, the Foundation School of Autism has focused on providing early intervention for a small number of students in a special education setting.
The school is designed to give individualized attention to each student. The maximum class size is seven students. The class size varies depending on the needs of the students; there are fewer students in a class if more of them have high needs. Each classroom has at least two staff members, including a certified special education teacher and a special education instructional aide. Currently, there are two preschool classrooms for students in PK3 and PK4, and four elementary classrooms for students in kindergarten and first grade.
The staff at the Foundation School of Autism includes specialists who work with the students and provide professional development for the teachers. The school’s speech language pathologist (SLP) follows the SCERTS model, designed to build language and joint attention, so students can learn to relate to each other and communicate. The SLP visits classrooms and playgrounds to work with students in their educational setting. This push-in model works well because sometimes children with autism have trouble generalizing skills from a therapy setting to a classroom setting.
There is also an occupational therapist (OT) on staff. The OT supervises the handwriting program, which follows Handwriting Without Tears. The OT also oversees sensory integration needs, such as whether students need to work out in the motor lab before sitting to work at a table, if they need fidgets or a weighted lap pad, or if they need time on a swing or trampoline to satisfy proprioceptive or vestibular needs.
The staff also includes a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), who also has a masters degree in special education. The BCBA’s role is to understand the education needs of the students, including overseeing the curriculum and providing support for staff when they have concerns about students’ behavior.
These specialists—SLP, OT, and BCBA—work together with the teachers to provide professional development that is centered on methodologies that are consistent and based on peer-reviewed research.
The Foundation School of Autism is a small school with small class sizes, and within those classrooms, students are matched to have similar abilities. A majority of students have language challenges, but a few students who have language skills that are closer to grade level need communication partners in their same classrooms. The school model is based on early intervention, but is different from a general education setting because there are no neurotypical peers. Families are encouraged to find opportunities for students to get social interaction outside the school, such as by joining social skills groups or sports programs like Kinetic Kids. The team at the Foundation School of Autism works with the special education team at the child’s next school, inviting them to participate in the student’s final ARD meeting to plan a smooth transition.
Compared to a traditional public school, where a child on the autism spectrum might be in a classroom with students having a wide range of abilities, at the Foundation School of Autism the teachers are able to focus on an early intervention model that is targeted to support students with autism. However, parents need to make an informed decision that they are choosing a special education setting, rather than a general education setting, for their child’s early years.
The Foundation School of Autism in San Antonio
The Foundation School of Autism serves students from PK3 to first grade. The campus is located at 2235 Thousand Oaks Dr., Ste. 130, San Antonio, TX 78217 (map). The main phone number is 210-402-0253, and you can reach them through the contact form on their website.
In 2019, on the campus’s most recent report card, they did not earn a rating; the school only serves young children in non-testing grades. For the district-level report cards, they are included with Premier High Schools (another branch of ResponsiveEd), which earned a B rating.
Download the free San Antonio Charter Schools app for an interactive map that includes the Foundation School of Autism and more. You can also find campus information about the Foundation School of Autism (and many other schools of choice) in our Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.
Enroll at the Foundation School of Autism
Families can apply online to enroll their children at the Foundation School of Autism. For the 2021–22 school year, the open enrollment period began on November 2, 2020 and continues through January 15, 2021; the lottery will be on January 25, 2021.
The Foundation School for Autism is an open enrollment charter school, but it’s designed to serve a specialized purpose, so the enrollment process works a little differently. The first step is that parents fill out an application online. Even if they are just calling the school to get more information, the staff will encourage parents to fill out the application, which is brief and doesn’t ask about a child’s special education records or diagnosis.
Lottery, waiting list. Offer. Interview. School tour.
When a space opens up, the staff will contact the parent to make an offer of enrollment and schedule an interview. (During the pandemic, interviews are by videoconference.) The purpose of the interview is to make sure the parent is well informed about the program and the particular classroom where the student would be placed.
Before making a decision, parents are invited to tour the school and look in through the windows at the classroom where their student would learn. (During COVID, campus visitors are limited during school hours; contact the school for more details.) Parents are encouraged to talk with their child’s support team, including therapists and developmental pediatricians, to help decide if the Foundation School of Autism would be a good fit. Families who get an offer to enroll at kindergarten or first grade have a more difficult decision to make because their child may have already experienced a general education setting and interacting with neurotypical peers. It is necessary for all students to be eligible for special education services. Once a student is enrolled, one of the first steps is to hold an ARD meeting to establish a plan for serving the student well.
The waiting list does not roll over from year to year. A family who applied last year but didn’t get an offer should re-apply this year. The staff contact all those families every year to let them know. Unfortunately, because of the randomness of the lottery, some families wait for several years and never get an offer. The best chance to get an offer is to apply for PK3 or PK4, because those classes have the most openings; most PK4 and kindergarten families re-enroll each year.
In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about the Foundation School of Autism.
Facts About the Foundation School of Autism
Off campus field trips are not practical because students would need one-on-one support, but in a typical school year, students at the Foundation School of Autism participate in many on-site learning opportunities. Examples include the traveling company of the Magik Theatre, a rodeo event with Cowboy Mike and a team of rodeo clowns, and animal interactions with wildlife experts. Every April (except in 2020), a team from the Foundation School of Autism participates in the Walk for Autism hosted by Any Baby Can.
During the pandemic, about a third of students are participating in remote education, and the rest are on campus. The students are exempt from wearing masks, but the staff always wear face masks and shields. When teaching language, teachers wear clear masks to show mouth movement.
The Foundation School of Autism has an active parent support organization that, during a typical year, works in partnership with the teachers to plan community events.
The Foundation School of Autism is part of the ResponsiveEd charter management organization. Founded in 1998, ResponsiveEd also operates a network of dropout recovery and prevention schools, including two in San Antonio, Premier High School San Antonio West and Premier High School San Antonio East. ResponsiveEd also operates the Founders Classical Academy network of classical education charter schools, including Founders Classical Academy of Schertz located northeast of San Antonio. The enrollment area for the Foundation School of Autism—and all ResponsiveEd schools—covers the entire state of Texas.
Charter Moms Chats
Rheatha Miller is the Director at the Foundation School of Autism in San Antonio. She has 25 years of experience working in the education field, both private and public. Rheatha served as the Program Director of a private ABA therapy day school before joining ResponsiveEd, where she assisted in the opening of Foundation School of Autism.
Read More About the Foundation School of Autism
- “Pre-K San Antonio Charter School Options and Resources,” Amy Johnson, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 8, 2021
- “Support Charter Schools and Education Nonprofits at The Big Give San Antonio 2020,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 8, 2020
- “Decoding the IEP: Parents Learn From a Special Education Advocate,” Bekah McNeel, San Antonio Charter Moms, April 22, 2020
- “[Texas Public Radio] Worth Repeating: Inga Wanted More For Her Son,” San Antonio Charter Moms, November 1, 2018
- “The Foundation School for Autism Celebrates Current and Former Students at Homecoming,” ResponsiveEd, April 16, 2018
- “Autism Treatment Center Expansion to Boost Services for Growing Community,” Roseanna Garza, San Antonio Report, February 7, 2018
- “Autism Community Network San Antonio Network Helps Families Access Diagnosis and Resources,” San Antonio Charter Moms, October 18, 2017
- “Chili-Con-Carnival on March 23 to raise money for Foundation School for Autism,” San Antonio Charter Moms, March 11, 2013
- “Carnival set to raise funds for charter school,” Lindsay Kastner, San Antonio Express-News, March 8, 2013
- “Charter school opens with autism in mind,” Lindsay Kastner, San Antonio Express-News, October 12, 2010
- “Foundation School is Texas’ First Public School Focused on Serving Children with Autism,” ResponsiveEd, October 12, 2010