Autism education institution provides opportunity for underserved students in Huntsville

Foster Academy launches its second year as the only school in Huntsville exclusively providing individualized spectrum-based education to students with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Foster Academy was founded in 2017 to serve a population of students whose needs have not been fully met in other school environments in the area.  Foster Academy is located adjacent to University Baptist Church on Jordan Lane and is a ministry of the church. Foster Academy will have an official opening ceremony and celebration on August 22 at 10 a.m. at Foster Academy at 809 Jordan Ln NW, Huntsville, AL 35816.


In June 2108 Foster Academy hired veteran educator Diane Leisher as Executive Director and the energy she brings to this small school with a big heart is driving exciting growth. The certified teaching staff serves students in grades 5 through 12. Courses are based on the Alabama Course of Study using a variety of resources in the classroom, both textbook and online. Small class sizes enable Foster educators to pursue a solid philosophy supporting a least restrictive environment (LRE) model. Foster Academy emphasizes LRE to serve the unique differences of children and teens with high functioning ASD and related symptoms. Foster Academy is important to the community as it addresses a very specific need in the Huntsville area: An individualized learning environment for high-functioning students on the autistic spectrum.


Dr. Megan Crisler of Silver Linings Neurodevelopment will speak at the ceremony on the importance of Foster Academy to the community. She is also a member of Foster Academy's Board of Directors. The faculty, staff and students are delighted to meet the community at the opening ceremony on August 22. The energy at the school among the staff is infectious. According to Ms. Leisher, “I am most excited about our students, who are each unique individuals, and the opportunities we can provide them. We have an excellent and excited faculty/staff in place; we are a mission of a highly-supportive church, University Baptist Church; and our parents are committed to obtaining the best education possible for their child.”


About Megan Crisler

Dr. Megan Crisler is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, with specific interests in developmental functioning across the lifespan. She earned her B.S. in Psychology, along with an additional B.S. in Biology, from the University of Alabama, followed by her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology, also from UA. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development, with a specific training emphasis on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to earning her Ph.D., Dr. Crisler also worked as a Family Resource Coordinator at Florida State University, assisting in the coordination and execution of early screening, assessment, and intervention for toddlers with ASD across the Florida panhandle.

While trained specifically in ASD assessment and treatment, her graduate training emphasized a “generalist” approach, meaning that she possesses the skills necessary to assess and treat a wide range of other disorders. The term “treatment” is used broadly, and may include traditional psychotherapy, skills training, or consultation, based on the patient’s individual needs.

Her clinical expertise is heavily focused toward developmental disability assessment and treatment, with specific emphasis on ASD. Dr. Crisler is also trained in other behavioral and mental health disorders in children and adults, including oppositional behaviors, mood disorders, and family functioning. With regards to ASD, she specifically enjoys working with families and individuals through education and treatment planning, along with facilitating social skills groups for children, adolescents, and young adults.


About Foster Academy

Foster Academy was founded in 2017 and is a mission of University Baptist Church. Foster Academy serves students in grades 5 through 12 and provides an inclusive and supportive environment to help students with high functioning Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other learning differences achieve success.

Amy Price