Long Waiting List Has One Midland School Asking for Help

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - You wouldn't know it by his big smile or contagious laugh, but 10-year-old Seth has Autism. Every day he's learning sign language and communication skills at the Bynum School.

"They look at Seth and they see what we see when we look at him, and a lot of other schools didn't see that in him," Mary Woodard, a Bynum Parent, said.

Teachers at Bynum are specially trained to work with West Texans struggling with mental handicaps like Autism and severe mental retardation.

"We serve students with all types and degrees of disabilities," Molly Wallace, Executive Director of The Bynum School said. "Then we have the adult vocational program, so we're very unique in that way."

The vocational program teaches teens and adults life skills and provides job training. Businesses all across the Tall City have stepped in to help guiding students on a career path.

"Our adult students, we really listen to what they want to do with their lives, their hopes and dreams," Wallace said. "We match job training sites with those hopes and dreams because every individual should have the opportunity to do what they want to do in life."

And the families say it's the individual attention that sets Bynum apart.

"It's huge," Woodard said. "I know that people think they are all the same, but they're not. One thing that helps him might not help somebody else. They work on finding what makes him come alive."

But many individuals with disabilities are waiting on that opportunity. Right now almost every available desk is full.

"There's always someone waiting for the next spot, so it's a little discouraging for us, we want to be able to serve every child that needs Bynum School," Wallace said.

The private school is setting up a fundraiser hoping to expand the current facility, a change they say is essential to serving the growing number of students.

"You can feel it when you walk in the front door here," Woodard said. "Everything is for the kids. Him being here has changed him so it's changed our whole family, our whole extended family. It's been good for us."

The new facility will house additional classroom space and a therapy center. To help pay for the new building, the school is hosting a 25th anniversary fundraiser in November. Former First Lady Laura Bush will be the keynote speaker.