TORONTO – Giant Steps is a specialized school and therapy centre that focuses on teaching life skills to children with autism.
The school is like any other school but there are a few differences, including their integrative programs and the holistic approach they take to teaching their students.
“I run my classroom like any other teacher does, the only difference being, I have students from kindergarten to grade six, so my program is very integrated, very different,” Laurie Taciuk, a special education resource teacher at Giant Steps said.
The programs are tailored to the needs of each child with the goal of gradually integrating them into their local public schools.
“We have 24 kids, and 24 of those students are not the same. They’re just all different and all special,” Taciuk said.“If I need a student to expel some energy so that they can focus, I have a gym with a rock wall. I am able to use a lot of techniques and strategies to help these students learn and to grow in their education.”
“There are a lot of children out there with autism,” he added.
Laura Fitzpatrick is a mother of one of the students at Giant Steps and she says that there has been a major change in her son since he started.
“We see so many different and positive changes in him,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s just interested in the world, whereas before, he seemed to be in his own little world.”
Colleen Smith, the executive director of the program, said the goal is to have each child take their own “giant steps” to be an active part of their community.