What is Pathfinder Academy?

Pathfinder Academy is a middle and high school program for students on the Autism Spectrum (ages 12-21). We are a private school run under the supervision of Pathfinder Inc.

• Consideration may be made for younger students on a case-by-case basis.

What Makes Pathfinder Academy Different?

  • Low student to staff ratio
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    Low student to staff ratio
    We have 3 different classrooms divided by age and ability level.
    Each classroom only accepts 5 students.
    Each classroom has a full time dedicated teacher’s assistant.
    We also have a full time special education teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist and a part time physical therapist that are in and out of the various classrooms throughout the day.
  • Individualized curriculum
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    Individualized curriculum
    Because we are a private school, we do not follow common core. This allows us to individually assess each student and customize each student’s goals to exactly the level the student is at.


  • Life skills are part of the curriculum
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    Life skills are part of the curriculum
    Our focus at the Academy is to maximize student independence both now and in the future.
    We have a heavy focus on self-care skills including proper hand washing, teeth brushing, and dressing for students who struggle in these areas.
    All students participate in daily chores to build home living skills including washing dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, washing and folding clothes, making beds, etc.
    Students who are capable also have an emphasis on financial planning including simple budgeting, understanding the basics of credit, and the importance of responsible credit card use.        Close
  • Intensive Therapy
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    Intensive Therapy
    At the Academy we have seen the benefits of intensive therapy.
    All students are evaluated for speech, occupational, and physical therapies upon intake.
    Most of our students receive multiple therapies, even if they were not receiving therapies in the public school system.
    In addition, most therapies are provided in the classroom environment, so that skills are learned and practiced in the environment they are used in.
    Students with higher verbal skills may also qualify for behavioral health services.        Close
  • Transition Classroom
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    Transition Classroom
    For students that will be transitioning to an adult development center environment, we have a transition classroom.
    Students in their final two years at the Academy are educated in our transition classroom, located at Pathfinder’s Pickens Skills Training Center for adults.
    During this time the students receive both classroom instruction, as well as spend increasing amounts of time with the adults in the skills training center, with Academy staff there to support and facilitate the student’s participation.
    If a student transitions to the Pickens Skills Training Center, Academy staff will provide training for the staff at the skills training center specific to the student transitioning and continue to provide support after graduation to maximize success and ease the difficulty of transitioning to adult services.        Close
  • Environmental supports and staff trained specifically for Autism
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    Environmental supports and staff trained specifically for Autism
    With our strong emphasis on Autism, we are ideally set up for helping students on the spectrum.
    Our environment is set up with strong visual supports and a consistent, well established routine.
    Staff members are familiar with using visual supports and developing new supports as the need arises.
    Sensory breaks are taken building wide every 2 hours throughout the day, and additional sensory diet tools are available and used frequently.
    All staff members (including teacher’s assistants) receive extensive training on Autism and related areas including applied behavioral analysis, sensory processing, using and creating visual supports, the use of alternative augmentative communication devices (AAC), and behavior management.
    Staff members receive more than 25 hours of training annually.        Close
  • Therapeutic Animal on-site             
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    Therapeutic Animal on-site
    An ever growing body of research delineates the benefits of animals for all people, including those on the spectrum.
    Sophie, our on-site dog is happy to oblige with lots of love for our students and a playful attitude.
    Sophie is a golden doodle and is thus low-shed and low-dander, she should not provide any difficulty for students with allergies.        Close
  • Year round programming provided             
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    Year round programming provided
    We recognize that many of our families struggle to find appropriate options for their student when public school is not in session.
    Pathfinder Academy offers programming year round.
    During the summer we work hard to maintain and reinforce academic progress made during the year.
    We also have an increased emphasis on community integration and social skills development with weekly field trips and increase time both on and off-site focusing on social activities.
    We do close for Christmas vacation, spring break, occasional holidays (Thanksgiving, new years, memorial day, fourth of July, and Labor day), and for 2 days each at the beginning and end of our summer program to transition our building and get our materials ready.        Close
  • Experienced at Behavior Management       
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    Experienced at Behavior Management
    Our team based approach uses all of our professions to break down the reasons behind problem behaviors, with a process that relies heavily on data collection and trend analysis. Once problem behaviors are identified and analyzed we develop an individualized behavior plan with both home and school components. Strategies to teach missing skills (difficulties with communication, executive function, etc…) and extra supports (visuals, sensory diet, etc…) are an integral part of the plan. All staff members are involved in and familiar with this process and its implementation.        Close
  • Frequent trips into the community            
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    Frequent trips into the community
    At Pathfinder Academy we understand the importance of practicing skills in the environment you will use them in. Our students take frequent trips into the community (library, store, park, etc…) to practice social skills, money skills, and safety skills. We also take frequent field trips to a variety of local sites (river market, zoo, Christmas tree farm, etc…).        Close
  • Family support provided             
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    Family support provided
    Pathfinder Academy values our parents and knows how difficult some days are when parenting a child on the spectrum. Our staff makes themselves available for consultations on a regular basis. We also have parent trainings (onsite and online) and a parent resource library to provide our parents with as much helpful information as possible. We have several days throughout the year to celebrate with our families and allow them to network with other parents and enjoy family time in a supportive and inclusive environment.         Close

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What Pathfinder Academy is not

  • Not a diploma programClick to read more!
    Not a diploma program
    Upon graduation students receive a certificate of completion as well as a document listing their skills in a variety of areas to assist with planning in adult services.
    If your student is able to perform at or close to grade level and is on track to receive a high school diploma, this may not be the best option for your family. Close
  • Not funded by public schools or MedicaidClick to read more!
    Not funded by public schools or Medicaid
    The Academy is a private school and is private pay tuition based.
    Medicaid and public school funds will not pay for the tuition at the Academy. Close
  • Does not provide transportationClick to read more!
    Does not provide transportation
    While Pathfinder Inc. does provide transportation for our preschool and adult programs, based on the size of the Academy and the age of our students, we do not provide transportation at this time.
    Parents must make arrangements for their students to be dropped off between 7:45 and 8:00 am and be picked up by 3:00 pm. Close
  • Does not provide mealsClick to read more!
    Does not provide meals
    Based on our size and the diet limitations of many of our students, Pathfinder Academy does not provide a school lunch. Parents must pack lunch daily (we do have a microwave and dishes available for student use). Close

I'm interested, what's the next step?

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More Information

Phone: 501 982-0528 ext 1505 or FAX: 501 982-0536 or
Email Lindsey Wooley @

Download a Pathfinder Academy enrollment application here To view or print the Pathfinder Academy Student - Parent Handbook click here.