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  • What makes AMA “speller-friendly”?
    First and foremost, AMA parents and students do not need to defend or explain their preferred communication as being spelling or typing. They are not judged or assessed by the way their bodies appear or behave. We are a community of teachers, advisors, families and peers who “GET IT” and we embrace and celebrate each other AS WE ARE! Furthermore, students do not need to convince us that they are competent and capable of learning. In fact, many of our students have expressed having information processing advantages and often possess knowledge that has never been explicitly taught to them but rather, obtained through acute observation and listening over time. Our program is created with all of this in mind. Our courses are offered at an honors level or higher. Our curriculum is neuro affirming and has been adapted, not modified, to accommodate our student’s preferred communication method. Read more about our curriculum structure here. Lastly, our program exists because the community of spellers and their families asked for it. We understand the challenges our families have encountered within the traditional model of education. We’ve seen students hungry for learning having been ill served by school and parents working tirelessly to feed this hunger, often with little or no teacher support and for no credit or recognition. That ends here. We remain committed to listening to the needs of our families and serving them as best we can. Our Family Ambassadors are located in various parts of the country and outside as well. They help to keep us informed of the needs of families in their area and beyond. Learn more here.
  • Can a student enroll if they are not yet communicating openly?
    We realize that reaching open communication through spelling or typing can take a while to achieve and we want students to be able to begin earning high school credits, if they wish, once they are able to communicate in at least a solid, semi-open manner. This means that at minimum, with an established communication partner, the student must be able to reliably complete exercises that involve choices or fill in the blanks, or that require answering in short phrases with a somewhat limited range of responses. All AMA courses include opportunities to respond more openly, though with the exception of several upper level courses required for graduation through ASCEND that involve more expansive writing (at least paragraphs at a time), most courses do not require fully open communication for credit. Assignments have been scaffolded and adapted to accommodate the motor needs of our students using a minimum of semi-open communication while maintaining the integrity (and fun!) of high-level, high-quality learning. If a student is not yet able to communicate at a solid, semi-open manner as described above, they should continue building those skills before enrolling. However, they can document this work and when they later enroll, they can earn Spelling/Typing credits. We are working on a resource that will help families locate academic-type lessons that will help students develop foundational academic skills while building communication/motor skills and will share it as soon as it is available. You can review our free resource on documenting work here.
  • Are there certain requirements for communication partners?
    Families provide their own communication partner, which can be anyone with whom the student has an established a spelling relationship (at least solidly semi-open to start) and that is able to spell with them using best practices. A recording of the student with their communication partner(s) is required for the initial admissions application for ASCEND as well as anytime a new communication partner is introduced. This recording is viewed only by our admissions team of advisors who will offer gentle, constructive feedback, if called for, with the goal of helping to make the communication partnership as successful as possible. If the partnership is not quite ready for academic coursework within our program, we can help families make a plan for developing skills that will help them become ready. Keep in mind that during this time, the work involved to develop the communication readiness through spelling can be documented for future credit once enrolled. We do not recommend having multiple communication partners for the same course. Furthermore, it is helpful, but not required for the communication partner for the course to be comfortable with the content of the course. They will feel less anxious and enjoy it more, which enables them to relax and better support the student. However, we do not expect communication partners to fill the role of the teacher for the course. The program is designed so that the student and communication partner can sufficiently rely on the materials provided plus the support from the AMA teacher assigned to the course.
  • How are the courses implemented?
    A full description can be found at here.
  • Is there an age requirement for AMA enrollment?
    Some courses may be appropriate for younger students who are hungry for higher level academic learning. Students ages 10 - 13 may enroll in math and science courses and possibly a few others with approval, though the bulk of our program is meant for ages 14 and up. There is no upper age limit for enrollment.
  • Can we see a sample from a course?
    We are working on adding lesson excerpts to the website from at least one course in each of our subjects. Course descriptions are available here and sample lesson excerpts will be added soon. There is already a sample from Algebra 1 posted.
  • How much time should a student expect to spend per week per course?
    The amount of time per week per course will vary depending on a number of factors including the student’s profile, communication partner availability and skills, health conditions, and other logistics. We recommend allotting 3 - 4 hours per week per course, though some students may not need this much time. At this rate, courses can reasonably be completed within the allotted access time (1 credit = 12 months access, 0.5 credit = 6 months access). Some ASCEND courses require documenting time as well as activities. For these courses, 1 full credit requires a minimum of 162 documented hours. At around 3 - 4 hours per week, this can be achieved in 41 - 42 weeks, meaning students can take breaks for vacation, to recover when health issues occur, or for any other reason and they can still finish the course within the allotted time without sacrificing depth and breadth of learning!
  • Are students required to complete tests and quizzes for grades?
    If a student has not yet reached fully open communication with a skilled and trusted communication partner, formal assessments (e.g. tests and quizzes) offer little information and can be emotionally traumatizing for students. Our exercises, activities, and overall program design allows students to fully engage in learning and demonstrate comprehension in alternative ways, without the stress of testing prematurely, before communication readiness. Students can still earn FULL credit by completing course requirements (at least 80% of the exercise for each lesson), earning a grade of Pass. That being said, once a student IS able to communicate openly with their partner, if they have a desire to practice testing in preparation for college or for other reasons, they may discuss this with their advisor. If the advisor determines the student and partner are ready, separate services can be arranged for an additional fee (not included in tuition) to give them an opportunity to learn and practice the skills needed for communication supported testing. Dr. Jen has a documented describing her professional criteria and guidelines for communication partner supported proctored testing for students wishing to develop these skills for college. While students aren't expected necessarily to have this level of stamina at the high school level, for those who are hoping to attend college, it is good to know what to be working toward.
  • How much access to teachers will be provided?
    AMA courses include ongoing support from subject-expert, credentialed teachers who will be available to answer content-related questions from students or communication partners. They will also provide feedback on submitted assignments. This exchange happens primarily through google classroom. If a student needs content support beyond what can be reasonably provided this way, students can request private tutoring sessions with the teacher (additional fee applies).
  • Are there opportunities for students to interact with each other?
    There are several ways students can interact with each other within our current program design. As our program grows, we hope to add more, if this is something students and families desire. To start, since courses are hosted on google classroom, students will be able to interact with any other students taking that class at that time through that platform. Secondly, we plan to periodically offer optional live, virtual enrichment lessons taught by various AMA teachers across subjects offering students an opportunity to learn together and interact with each other in real time. Anyone can sign up for these lessons, though actively enrolled students can do so for a discounted rate or in some cases, for free. These lessons can be documented and applied toward additional course credits. Finally, ASCEND students/families are encouraged to consider creating or joining a registered AMA homeschool co-op, which could be virtual or in person. Keep watching the website for information about Co-ops, coming soon.
  • Is AMA coursework a replacement for working privately on communication goals related to spelling/typing?
    While our leadership team consists of practitioners who collectively have experience and training in a variety of modalities and can offer some degree of communication coaching within the framework of our program, we do not explicitly teach communication through spelling or typing. This type of work is best achieved with a practitioner or trained communication partner working individually with the student in a setting where communication/motor goals (versus academic goals) are at the forefront. We recommend that to best improve communication skills, families use our program and curriculum in a complementary manner, but not as a replacement for targeted communication work, whether through spelling lessons or other purposeful motor work.
  • Does AMA use a certain method of spelling?
    AMA is an academic program designed to accommodate neurodivergent students who are unable to use speech reliably as their primary mode of communication. Our leadership team has a variety of experience and training in multiple methodologies between us, but we are not method specific and we do not explicitly teach spelling in our program. We say “students”, versus “clients”, because our role in this setting is that of educators, not clinicians. However, as we do have practitioner training, we are familiar with and require adherence to certain standards of spelling/typing with communication partners that apply across ALL methods to ensure students are always given the opportunity to be autonomous communicators. First, communication partners must hold still the communication device, whatever that may be, during active spelling. This is true no matter the skill level, beginner to advanced. This is one of the criteria we will be looking for in the admissions video and anytime a new communication partner is introduced. Secondly, by definition, open communication means that the student can respond in an unlimited number of ways, so there is no way to anticipate what might be said. Therefore, any type of prompting by the communication partner, with the exception of those meant to help the student’s body initiate communication, must be eliminated if the student is truly communicating openly. For the upper level courses that require open communication, this is the level of spelling that will need to be demonstrated to be eligible to enroll in these courses. We know that open communication takes time and a lot of practice and hard work to achieve, so if a partnership isn’t there yet, it’s ok! There are plenty of courses that a student can take for credit while they build these skills. We encourage families to choose methods and strategies that work best for them, but no matter what, keep practicing and lean into us for encouragement and troubleshooting based on what we can offer within our specializations.
  • Does All Minds Academy have an in-person option?
    Currently, all of our programs are online and self-paced. However, for those seeking an in-person option, we encourage families to coordinate AMA Co-ops and we will help you think through a model that can work. Keep in mind that co-ops can be attended virtually or in person. For ASCEND students who join a registered AMA co-op, tuition discounts apply for select courses if certain requirements are met. Keep an eye on the AMA website for information about co-ops soon.
  • Can I use family support funding to pay for courses/services?
    All Minds Academy is currently an approved vendor in Florida (Step Up For Students), Arizona (ESA), and California (Mains'l). We are willing to explore becoming a vendor for other programs, if possible. We do have some parameters for this and each funding program has different requirements around how funds may be utilized. It is best to contact us directly to discuss possibilities if this applies to you. Email billing@allmindsacademy.com
  • Do you offer need-based scholarships?
    Our hope is to establish a scholarship fund at some point that can be utilized for things like offsetting tuition for families in need and providing AMA Homeschool Co-op starter grants. We don't have this available yet, but we do have a flexible enrollment structure that hopefully allows families to find a tuition and payment plan that works for them. Unlike other school programs that require a fixed tuition, we allow families to enroll by course and we offer installment plans. If additional adjustments in the installment plan are needed, while we cannot guarantee we can accommodate them, feel free to reach out at billing@allmindsacademy.com to discuss possibilities.
  • Can we finish a course in a shorter amount of time than what is allotted?
    The courses are designed to ensure that at a rate of completion of roughly one lesson per week, the course can easily be completed within 12 months (1 credit) or 6 month (0.5 credit) while still allowing families to take time off when needed for vacation or other reasons and not worry about "falling behind". The self-paced nature of the courses allow students to work on them during times of the day that are best for them and their communication partner and at durations and intensities that are appropriate for their individual regulation and stamina. Some students may be able to work at a much faster pace than one lesson per week. The self-pace design is accommodating for them too! Please note that the course tuition does not adjust if the course is completed in less than the allotted time. Any outstanding tuition installment payments, if applicable, are billed until the entirety of course tuition has been collected. Students may enroll in additional courses at any time by submitted a new enrollment agreement for the course. For ASCEND students only - Note that the annual enrollment fee is collected only once per year. If any courses are incomplete when the enrollment renewal date comes around (which is the anniversary of the initial enrollment agreement submission), in order to continue earning credit for these courses, the enrollment must be renewed by submitted by the annual enrollment fee for the upcoming year. The student's advisor will help the student and family carefully consider course selection and timing.
  • ASCEND: Can my student get credit for spelling lessons and other motor-specific communication work?
    YES! This is one of the most exciting and unique features of our high school program. Communication via spelling or typing is no easy task and we believe that this work deserves recognition and credit. There are several ways this can happen. First, as Spelling is another way to communicate, students can earn up to two modern language credits. Spelling can also apply toward elective credits, and in some cases toward required hours for other courses depending on the nature of the lessons. Some restrictions apply. Discuss options and parameters with your advisor. You can review our free resource on documenting work here.
  • ASCEND: Can students received credit for work they have done so far?
    The passion behind building All Minds Academy comes from knowing our families have been trying hard to cobble together a meaningful education for their student, often using school programs or other online programs that are not designed to accommodate the preferred communication method of their student. Despite the constant, exhausting, time-intensive struggle, our families and students have forged on with determination, supplementing learning however they can. We hope that our program will offer families and students in this boat a solution. We want to give credit where credit it due and we also have certain parameters around what we are able to do. Below are our criteria: Transfer credits from a nationally accredited institution with proper documentation are allowed, though a minimum of 10 credits must be earned through AMA ASCEND (subject to change). Credits for non-accredited work completed prior to enrollment with AMA are not guaranteed, though our desire is to give credit where credit is due. Once a student has been enrolled in AMA for at least 1 year and has demonstrated a commitment to completing the program, prior work can be reviewed for potential credit. A minimum review fee of $375 is required. You can review our free resource on documenting work here.
  • ASCEND: What happens if we aren’t able to complete the course within the allotted time?
    ASCEND ONLY Families will work with our advisors to give careful consideration when selecting courses for enrollment. Once enrolled in a course, our program incorporates multiple supports and features to ensure students make steady progress to prevent situations where they are not able to complete it within the allotted time. That being said, unexpected situations happen and if necessary, access to the course can be extended on a monthly basis at a monthly rate of $150/month for 1 credit courses and $75/month for 0.5 credit courses. We would hope that if this were necessary, it would not be for more than 1 or 2 months max.
  • ASCEND What happens if we need to drop a course?
    ASCEND ONLY If a student is struggling with a course or a situation occurs that prevents the student from remaining enrolled in the course, the first thing to do would be to immediately reach out to the student advisor for support and to discuss options. We will try to work with you. Ultimately, if it is necessary to drop the course, the family should notify the advisor in writing as soon as possible. If notification is received within the first 30 days from the date that the course enrollment agreement was submitted, a refund for tuition paid for the course thus far will be issued, less a cancellation fee of $125. If notification is received outside this range then course tuition paid thus far is considered nonrefundable. However, it is possible to pause enrollment effective the end of the month that the notification was received and a credit will be issued, less $125/month cancellation fee through the cancellation month. The credit can be applied toward another course or toward re-enrollment in the same course at a later date. Students will lose access to the course, but the work submitted thus far will be counted toward the course requirements. It is the responsibility of the families to regularly back up and maintain records of all student work. The application fee nonrefundable. Within the first 30 days, the annual enrollment fee is 50% refundable. After this time, it is nonrefundable. NOTE - All payments made through third party support funding are nonrefundable.
  • ASCEND: If we don’t finish the graduation requirements for the accredited high school diploma, can we transfer credits to another program?
    ASCEND ONLY While the enrollment process for ASCEND students occurs through All Minds Academy, students are officially on record with Global Village School, a fully accredited, California-based online homeschool and private school hybrid. Students should register as homeschool students in their state (some exceptions apply). Families are responsible for knowing and following the homeschool requirements of their state or country. As with any other homeschool program, there is no guarantee that another high school will honor homeschool transfer credits. However, AMA courses are written and taught by credentialed educators and the curriculum is rigorous and standards-based which will provide a strong case for justifying credit transfers, should this come up. Completed AMA courses can always be added to the student’s parent-maintained homeschool transcript and upon request, certificates of completion can be provided by AMA for the student’s homeschool portfolio. However, the accredited transcript and diploma is currently only available for students who successfully graduate through ASCEND. The accredited diploma will be issued by GVS, in partnership with AMA.
  • ASCEND: What is the role of the advisor?
    ASCEND ONLY During the admissions process, each student will be assigned to an advisor. All AMA advisors have extensive experience supporting students who communicate by spelling or typing. The student and their primary communication partner (and parents, if desired) will meet with their advisor roughly every 8 weeks (bimonthly). Meetings might be spaced closer together at first, to ensure that everything gets started smoothly. Occasionally, another advisor may step in if they have something specific to offer or if the assigned advisor is unavailable. The advisor helps students and families navigate course selection, monitor course progress, help determine applicable credits, review the student’s documentation spreadsheet, and help troubleshoot any challenges in motor, communication, or regulation. Advisors provide support, personal connection, and a layer of accountability that helps students and families continue making progress towards student goals. If families consistently need or wish to meet more frequently than on a bimonthly basis, this might be able to be arranged depending on advisor availability. Additional fees would apply.
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