A school where autistic kids aren’t alone

James Walsh:

A charter school that will serve students with autism-spectrum disorders in grades 6 to 10 is being hailed as a haven for teens with special needs — and their families.
You can see the ache in Tamara Phillips’ eyes.
As her autistic daughter, now 14, has grown, so too has the loneliness: her daughter’s loneliness in school, but also the parents’ loneliness — because having an autistic child can seem a solitary climb up a very long hill. “There’s a lot of pain,” Phillips said.
Tired of it feeling alone and weary of years of pushing public schools to better educate their kids, a group of parents of autistic children is starting a charter school specifically for older students with the disorder. When Lionsgate Academy opens, scheduled for the fall of 2008, it will be the only public school in Minnesota — and one of only a handful in the country — designed for children with autism-spectrum disorders.