``Yes, it is extra work as a parent, but it is worth it,’’ said Watson.
``We are where we are today because we try to work with everyone as a team _ from the individuals we worked with at Early Intervention, to the individuals we work with at Kelberman, to Cherry Valley-Springfield (our home school), to the individuals at Cooperstown (who house the autism program and are Ashton’s teachers, BSA’s, etc. ),’’ added Watson.
Watson said she does not know of any local alternative options for children with autism because the Cooperstown program was created just in time for Ashton to begin kindergarten.
``We were so scared to put him in school, then the program opened and we felt like someone had blessed us with this option,’’ said Watson.
Watson said if the program at Cooperstown was not created, she and her husband would have had to look into other options in order to find ways to help their son.
Cooperstown School has provided a family-like setting much like the staff at the Kelberman Center and with the collaboration of both they have really done a nice job, said Watson.
According to CCS Superintendent Mary Jo McPhail, it would be more cost effective for the district to implement its own in-house autism program as compared to paying out of district tuition for students to attend elsewhere.
The program also provides neighboring districts a more cost effective option for students with autism.
Andrea Wissick, a special education teacher who works in the Primary Autism Support Classroom, said there was not a similar program offered in the area, so both the district and parents thought it would be a good idea to create one. She said CCS staff worked with the personnel at the Kelberman Center to develop a school-aged program.