Bates: Consider online school for your child on the spectrum

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Originally published in The Casper Star-Tribune – April 14, 2019


I’ll never forget the day that my daughter’s teacher told me she’d never be able to read or talk. Hearing this broke my heart because I knew ShaiLyn, my sweet daughter, wasn’t getting a fair chance. ShaiLyn is on the autism spectrum, and she deserves to be in an environment that encourages her to succeed. Fortunately, I’ve found this and more at Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA), an online public school that offers families a unique alternative to the traditional classroom.

The decision to move ShaiLyn to online school is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. At WYVA, she’s getting the personalized attention and help she needs. ShaiLyn is thriving in her classes and studying math, social studies and art with teachers who encourage her learning. She’s also getting involved with extracurricular activities like the National Honor Society.

 Most importantly, she’s strengthened her speech skills and is no longer afraid to speak in public. Last year, ShaiLyn spoke at Wyoming’s Capitol Day in front of a huge crowd, confident in herself. Watching her stand on stage and deliver her speech proved just how wrong that teacher was. And witnessing the progress online school has helped her make was one of the proudest moments of my life.

With April being Autism Awareness Month, I urge parents of kids on the spectrum to consider online school if they’re seeking alternative education options. The changes I’ve seen in ShaiLyn have been amazing and public school at home has allowed her to reach her full potential. I’m proud to say that my daughter attends online school and I’m thankful for the ability to choose the best education path for her.



To learn more about Wyoming Virtual Academy, visit

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