By Kathy L. Collins

Parents of children with autism or autism-related learning disabilities looking for a quality school located within the greater Brandon area, need look no further than the Livingstone Academy Autism Center (LAAC) located at 1649 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico.

LAAC, which opened in August 2013, is designed specifically for the needs of children with autism in kindergarten through the eighth grade. LAAC is a part of the tradition of the Livingstone Academy (formerly known as Bay Life Academy) which was founded by Chris and Bernadette Pello in 2003.

Kristen Seltzer is the Executive Director of LAAC. Seltzer said, “We are one of the only private schools in the county serving autistic students. We provide a quality education, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), speech and occupational therapies and a sensory gym on site.” The 7,000 sq. ft. site can accommodate approximately 60 students. LAAC is offering open enrollment in January for the 2014-2015 school year.

LAAC is an independent, non-profit private school that specializes in serving the unique educational needs of children with autism and autism-related learning disabilities. They offer individualized, educational programs while focusing on the social skills development, daily functional living skills and emotional/behavioral wellness of each student.

Seltzer explained, “By offering a continuum of services based on the individual requirements of each student and providing low student/teacher ratios, LAAC strives to ensure a positive learning environment in which all students are challenged to achieve their full potential.” LAAC uses a multi-modality teaching approach to address the unique learning styles and needs of each student. The curriculum is based upon the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and Access Points for Exceptional Student Education.

In addition, LAAC has partnered with Engage Behavioral Analysis, Beth Ingram Therapy Services and Total Therapy to provide the specific therapeutic services needed by students with autism and related learning disabilities. The therapies are offered on site and are incorporated into the school day. In addition, students have daily access to a sensory gym also located on site.

For more information on LAAC, please visit or call 438-8550.


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