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The Helix School in San Rafael growing with the community

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and on “Today in the Bay,” we shine a spotlight on the evolution of the Helix School in San Rafael, which began when a mother encountered a lack of a flexible education system for her then 2-year-old son, who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Marjorie McMorris, founder and board chair of The Helix School, created a unique, interactive learning space for her nonverbal son Kyle.

“I couldn’t find it in another school,” she said. “So I said if I have to get my child ready for a life of independence, I would have to do it on my own. I started the school for him. I didn’t really go out saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to start a school.’”

McMorris eventually hired a specialized staff and began providing services for four children. Over the years, enrollment has grown to 42. The school has moved into a new building and continues to grow.

“Students come to school, and they’re met with a team of OTs, speech therapists, behavioral therapists, and their teacher,” said Deanna Mayer, executive director of The Helix School. “We call ourselves a teaching school.”

The Helix School keeps classrooms small to make sure each student gets the attention they need. But it also hosts community events to raise awareness of autism and provide resources for caregivers.

Much of the money to run the school and programs comes from fundraisers, including a live online auction until noon Wednesday, April 24. They’re also trying to build an accessible playground for the students.

To find out how you can support The Helix School, go to or check out the online auction.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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