The Lionheart School opened in the fall of 2000 in Alpharetta. Lionheart is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, founded by some of the Southeast’s leading Early Childhood Education professionals and a group of families unable to find a school or program which fit the needs of their children. The goal was to create a new type of learning environment – one which combines the area’s finest Special Education teachers, Speech, Occupational and Music professionals and concerned and active parents.
In 2008, The Lionheart School became an accredited member of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Lionheart is also a member of the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) as well as the Georgia Association of Schools for Exceptional Children (GAPSEC).
The Lionheart School’s methods have become a national prototype for the education of children with autism and other challenges of relating and communicating. While many schools for children on the autism spectrum focus on rote learning and compliance, the Lionheart School emphasizes relationships, abstract critical thinking, problem solving, and social cognition.
Lionheart is a recognized educational model by the Interdisciplinary Council Founded by Stanley Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, PhD. The Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL) has been a pioneer in its work to advance the identification, prevention, and treatment of developmental and learning disorders. Through its research, training and publications, ICDL extends knowledge of developmental processes and provides a framework for the Developmental, Individual-Differences, Relationship-based Model (DIR®) (see Appendix A ) in understanding and improving interventions with infants, children and young adults with challenges in relating, communicating and thinking, including autism spectrum disorders.
By focusing on each child’s individual differences, and maintaining the highest possible staff-to-student ratio, the Lionheart School crafts a program suited to each student’s individual profile. This results in a nurturing and supportive environment, directly addressing the child’s emotional, social and intellectual development.
The school relies heavily on the participation of each child’s family to integrate the program into their home life. Because of the individual nature of Lionheart’s work, it is essential that all parents become involved, not only to support the teachers’ efforts, but also to help identify progress and develop new strategies for their child’s ongoing success.
At The Lionheart School, a child’s development is a cooperative effort, with teachers, therapists, consultants, parents and, of course, the children, all actively involved.