Online Program Helping Child With Autism Excel in School

Originally published in KIMA-TV – April 13, 2018

Nathaniel Hernandez is like most first graders. He would rather play video games than do homework.

But he’s different than most seven-year-olds because he has autism and ADHD.

Nathaniel went to kindergarten at Wide Hollow in West Valley, but the classroom had too much going on for him to focus. That’s when his family decided to make a change.

Selene Hernandez, his grandmother, has legal custody of Nathaniel and now works with him at home. Instead of sending him to school.

“It was very stressful for him. His anxiety level was always up. He was always crying and it’s mostly because of the auditory/sensatory issues that he has,” his grandmother Selene Hernandez said.

He initially did better than most kids in his class, but soon disengaged after the course work stopped challenging him. Which only made his issues worse.

His struggles with speaking, combined with heightened anxiety, made it almost impossible for him to get anything done in the classroom.

“He could see a child rolling on the floor and he would be paralyzed. I can’t move until this child moves or gets away from me,” Selene said.

Nathaniel is now part of the Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA), a completely online K-12 schooling program that allows him to work in a comfortable environment.

He still gets overwhelmed from time to time, but he’s gone from struggling to write his name to putting a page and a half book report together.

“His sentences are much better even though he still doesn’t know how to put sentences completely, but we can understand what he’s saying,” Selene said.

One area you can see his personality shine is when it’s time to play.

Selene said having the ability to step away from the lesson when he gets frustrated, helps him with learning the material.

She wants parents to know if their kids are having a hard time with traditional schooling, there are options out there depending on the child’s needs.

“It’s not hard. If I could do it, they can do it,” she said.

While Nathaniel is going to school online, he’s on the same timeline as other kids in his grade.

To learn more about Washington Virtual Academies, visit

Featured Articles