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Jonathan Northup is just like any 9-year-old boy: he’s energetic, he loves to play video games, and he builds Lego houses in his spare time. However, the second grader is also diagnosed with Level 1 Autism, which is the lowest category on the autism spectrum. This means that his social interaction with others is highly affected, and his brain-to-mouth processing is also affected to where he can have difficulty speaking and sometimes stutter.

When Jonathan and his family moved, he was already exhibiting behavioral issues that required medication and led him to become easily discouraged with his schoolwork. His mom, Tina Northup, began to research alternative education options and came across Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA).

“I originally enrolled Jonathan in LAVCA because I wanted him to have the same chance of excelling in the classroom as other students his age,” Tina explained. “His self-esteem was already low, and I didn’t want to take the chance of him getting picked on.”

Now in his second year at LAVCA, Jonathan loves the online class setting, especially when he gets to interact with teachers and hear other students. Tina also says that while the curriculum at LAVCA is rigorous, her son is allowed to work at his own pace, which has helped his self-esteem tremendously.

“Sometimes, it can take Jonathan awhile to answer questions with a stutter – but all of his teachers are very encouraging and let him take as much time as he wants,” Tina said. “LAVCA teachers take the time to work with Jonathan to highlight his strengths while understanding what is different about him.”

In addition to Jonathan receiving support, Tina says that she as a parent has been able to see herself grow alongside him. “I feel at home in such a welcoming and supportive environment,” she said. “I am able to email Jonathan’s teachers about his progress, and they have always responded quickly via email or even a personal phone call.”

Even though he has only been enrolled for a year and a half, Tina has noticed that Jonathan’s self-esteem has increased in not only his schoolwork but also his everyday life. In fact, the amount of medication he takes has decreased during his time at LAVCA as he gains more confidence!

“Enrolling my son in LAVCA was the best choice I could have made for his education,” Tina said.

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