About Our school
ACES Academy is a Non-public school (NPS) owned and operated by ACES, a national provider of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. Established in 2004, ACES Academy serves students in first grade through transition age (18-22) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or other disabilities. Our school is in Hillcrest, right in the heart of San Diego. Students are referred to our NPS by their home school district through the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team process. The program at ACES Academy is individualized to meet each student’s unique needs and is based on the students’ IEP. We use ABA methodologies and evidence-based research to create interventions that lead to meaningful life changes. We offer a functional curriculum and a certificate of completion upon transition program graduation.
Why Choose ACES Academy?
For each student to reach their maximum potential, education must be individualized to meet the needs of the student. At ACES Academy, we have a tremendous amount of flexibility and autonomy. All students learn differently, and it is our job to make data informed decisions to ensure student success and growth. Our teachers have the flexibility to change the learning environment, curriculum, schedule and materials to meet the individual needs of each student.
We believe that to obtain meaningful change in every student, we must use a collaborative approach. Our Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and our fully credentialed Educational Specialists work closely with families to create successful interventions that can be implemented both at home and at school. In addition, all our 1:1 staff are Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) and are trained in Crisis Prevention Interventions.
We always assume competency. Although some of our students are non-verbal and have communication deficits, we treat every student as a competent individual who deserves love, respect, and to be treated with dignity.
We are compassionate. Our students must feel safe, comfortable, and we must earn their trust before we can truly make meaningful change. We understand that having skill deficits in communication can be incredibly frustrating at times, and it is our job to support our students in finding effective replacement behaviors to get their needs met.
Our program is effective. As an ABA based program, we take extensive data using an online platform, to ensure that our interventions are successful. We will adjust or change our approach/intervention until we see meaningful results.
Lastly, ACES Academy is part of ACES 2020, LLC, a nationwide ABA company. Some of our students receive in home or clinic ABA services though ACES, enabling services to be streamlined and optimal collaboration.
We serve students with a primary disability of autism, moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, visual impairments, and multiple disabilities. Our students come from school districts located throughout the greater San Diego area. We specialize in students with severe communication, social, and behavioral deficits. Our cozy campus is made up of 3 separate buildings. The Yellow House serves school aged students from 1st-9th grade and students 16+ attend our transition program in our Transition House. Our Sensory house consists of a small gym and vocational task room, which enables our older students to complete mock vocational tasks to help prepare for employment.
Meet Our Team
Our Director and Program Coordinators are fully credentialed special educators and several of our professionals are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).
Katie Fay, M.A, BCBA
Katie Fay is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a certified Moderate/Severe Education Specialist. Katie has spent over 15 years in the field of education, working in both a general education and special education setting. She has experience teaching PreK through high school in a variety of settings and schools. She joined the ACES team in the fall of 2021 and worked as both a Clinical Supervisor and Education Specialist for the Academy. Katie transitioned into the role of director of the Academy in the summer of 2022.
Vanessa has been with ACES for over 10 years. She worked as an RBT and Teacher's Assistant before transitioning into the role of Education Specialist at the Academy in 2019. Vanessa works with students in our Transition Program on vocational work, daily living, and self-help skills. Vanessa has a tremendous amount of compassion towards her students, and we are lucky to have a teacher with so much knowledge and experience.
Keri Rothman, M.A., BCBA
Keri Rothman is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the Education Specialist for our younger students (Grades 1- High School). Keri moved to San Diego at the start of this school year from Upstate New York, where she worked in an alternative school setting similar to The Academy. Keri has over five years of experience as a special education teacher and was a Registered Behavior Technician for two years before becoming a BCBA in 2022. Keri's passion is personalizing learning for all of her students in creative ways, and teaching early literacy skills to developing readers.
Alison Cao Romero, RBT
Alison Cao Romero has been a Registered Behavior Interventionist (RBT) with ACES for almost 3 years and has a bachelor's degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences, Cognitive Science, and Psychology. In 2022, Alison transitioned into the role of Teachers Assistant where her primary role is to create materials, visuals, and support the RBTs with implementation of IEP goals and behavior plans. Alison’s passion is Speech and Pathology, and she will soon begin her practicum hours at the Academy, in order to become a Speech Language Pathology Assistant.
Julie Mirowicz, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Julie Mirowicz is our ASHA Certified Speech Language Pathologist and has been working as an SLP for 20 years. She has worked with children of all ages in the public school setting, private practice, and home health. Julie is passionate about empowering families to participate in therapy and help their children communicate at school, home, and in their communities.
About Our Program
Academic Instruction takes place in small group settings and students are provided with 1:1 support if needed (and written on IEP). The teachers at ACES Academy are skilled in selecting materials, curriculums, and instructional methods to meet each student’s individual academic needs.
Community Based Instruction takes place in naturally occurring settings in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Students learn pedestrian safety skills, mobility skills, how to make purchases at community businesses, grocery shopping skills, restaurant skills, leisure skills, social skills and more.
Vocational Training takes place both on-site and through our Community Based Instruction programs. Students can work in on-site simulated environments to learn skills for restaurant, office, and retail settings. We place an emphasis on learning vocational behavior skills that are necessary to work in all employment settings.
Independent Living Skills Training takes place on campus in our fully equipped kitchen and vocational spaces. Students learn to prepare food, use appliances, do laundry, complete chores, dress themselves, and complete daily hygiene skills. Skills are practiced naturally, during times throughout the school day, such as before or after P.E. or during mealtimes.
Students receive speech and occupational therapy services from licensed speech language pathologists and occupational therapists to meet the students’ IEP needs.
ACES Academy Utilizes Numerous Curriculum Programs That May Include, but Are Not Limited to
- 95 Percent Group Phonics
- Handwriting Without Tears
- Attainment Math
- Touch Math and Touch Money
- News 2 You
- Scholastic News
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- Direct Instruction
- Structured Teaching (TEACCH)
- Discrete Trial Training
- Sensory Diets
- Social Stories
- Positive Behavior Support Plans
- The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
- Speech Language Pathologist on campus two days a week
- Occupational Therapy
ACES is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families impacted with autism or other special needs. We provide comprehensive, professional services to maximize individuals’ potential in the home, school and community, throughout their lifespan. ACES offers ABA programming, group programming, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other programs and services that help children with Autism Spectrm Disorder master new skills. ACES provides children and their families with 24-hour access to resources and support through ABA On-Demand. This online resource offers telehealth-based intervention, parent workshops, activities, and so much more.