Autistic Third-Grader Finds Success in Virtual School

Originally aired on KALB-TV (NBC) – February 2, 2018

Meet Jonathan Northup, a bright third-grader who loves counting.

But, Jonathan didn’t always enjoy school.

“When he first started in Pre-K and stuff he was at the principal’s office almost everyday,” said Jonathan’s mother Tina Northup.

After struggling in earlier grades with reading and communicating, Northup said he was finally diagnosed with mild autism.

“He also has ADHD and pretty severe anxiety issues,” Northup said.

At that point she pulled her son out of traditional public school and enrolled him in the Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy.

“It is actually a public school but it is online,” Northup said. “He has virtual teachers that he sees everyday, but they are on the internet. He gets to interact with them and the other students as well.”

Now he has two special education teachers to help target his reading weaknesses.

“He gets a lot of tailored intervention time,” Northup said. “So, he spends one on one time with one teacher at least an hour an a half a week.”

Northup said it’s different from home schooling because parents are just there as a guide.

“Basically it says say this, show him to do this, this is what we need to do here,” Northup said.

The academy follows the same state guidelines and LEAP testing brick and mortar schools do, but Northup said it gives her son a more comfortable setting to learn in.

“This gives him the opportunity to be him, as well as get the learning in that he needs,” Northup said.

Most days Jonathan likes that he gets to stay in his pajamas with his four legged friends by his side.

“I have two cats and three dogs that are at my house,” Jonathan said.

And since he was diagnosed, Northup said her dreams for her son haven’t changed one bit.

“I want him to learn and to grow and to become that member of society that is productive, and can grow up to learn to take care of his own children one day,” Northup said.

To learn more about Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy, visit

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