Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center’s mission is to serve children and families who are faced with unique learning challenges, specifically autism and learning disabilities, in and around the Roanoke Valley. Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC) is licensed by the Virginia Department of Education to serve students ages 2-22. BRAAC provides specialized educational programs in a private day school setting as well as direct and consultative educational services in public schools. An after-school tutoring program provides continuity and reinforces consistency for students and families. BRAAC also provides specialized services for children in their homes as well as in-home training for parents. All of these highly specialized services necessitate continued professional development, which BRAAC provides to its staff, local school divisions, community support professionals and family members.
The Blue Ridge Autism Center (BRAC) was incorporated in September 2002, by a small group of parents and professionals dedicated to providing appropriate education, support, and information for children who have autism and their families.
In September 2002, Blue Ridge Autism Center began its program serving two children in temporary quarters located in the children’s education building at Rainbow Forest Baptist Church in Blue Ridge, Virginia.
Upon successful completion of application to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) for a certificate/license to operate, BRAC began offering a six-hour daily student educational program five days per week, generally following Botetourt County Public Schools’ calendar. In 2009, BRAC was serving over 100 students with autism in the center’s location, private homes and within the 8 contracted public school districts, combined.
In 1975, The Achievement Center (TAC) was licensed by the Virginia Department of Education to serve students with learning disabilities. The Achievement Center began to help students who needed services to address special learning needs, beginning with the orphanage at St. Vincent’s Home, in Roanoke, Virginia. St. Andrew’s Catholic Church charged the school $1 a year rent for the 28 years TAC was there. TAC existed in the old orphanage until 2003, when they purchased land and built a state of the art school in Roanoke County to serve 100 students with learning disabilities.
On June 15, 2009, the Blue Ridge Autism Center and The Achievement Center merged as one great facility to serve students with learning challenges under the umbrella of St. Vincent’s Home, Inc. The name was then changed to Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center (BRAAC). Students with a diagnosis of Autism, Asperger’s, Verbal/Nonverbal Learning Disability and/or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder began to be served under one roof at 312 Whitwell Drive in Roanoke County, Virginia in August of 2009.
Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center is a day school licensed by the Virginia Department of Education which offers a highly structured program for students with learning disabilities and autism. The purpose of the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center is to provide each student with individual learning experiences aimed at promoting his/her growth and development. Staff members firmly believe that each student must be offered a variety of experiences based upon his/her need and capability.
A professionally trained staff teaches the individually structured program. For students with learning disabilities, the method of instruction includes the sequential, multi-sensory, phonetic approach to the teaching of reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic. For the autism population, Applied Behavior Analysis utilizing methods such as Discrete Trial Therapy, Verbal Behavior, Task Analyses, etc., is individually implemented.
Curiosity for and a love of learning should be fostered. The faculty believes that all students have learning potential, which the school must identify, stimulate, and nurture.