Odell Associates
Sarah Dooley Center for Autism

School focusing on autistic students opens in Richmond, Va.

Sept. 3, 2021
The Sarah Dooley Center for Autism has customized brightly colored classrooms and a sensory library for students to decompress.

The Sarah Dooley Center for Autism has unveiled a new facility in St. Joseph's Villa in Richmond, Va.

The facility can accommodate up to 112 students and features customized brightly colored classrooms, reports ABC 8 News. It also has a sensory library where students can decompress and an indoor movement room.

Other features: 

  • Enhanced safety features to promote positive behaviors and de-escalate behavioral incidents without restraining or isolating students
  • A sensory library and indoor movement room
  • Abundant natural light and modern classroom technology
  • Transparent storage and customizable classroom arrangements to increase communication opportunities
  • A clinical suite with an observation room for student evaluation, family participation, research, and training
  • A flexible auditorium with a 100-person seating capacity for professional trainings and conferences, and remote teaching technology.

Last year, both a state report and the U.S. Department of Education found serious deficiencies in how Virginia schools respond to special needs.

The school is focusing on how to interact with students when they are misbehaving.

lt does not have seclusion rooms and restraints; instead there are open, padded safe spaces in the hallway for a student who may be physically aggressive.

The facility was designed by Odell Associates and constructed by Daniel & Company.

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