Time is running out for parents of children with special needs to get a life changing scholarship. 

Six-year-old Austin Smith has Down syndrome and is non-verbal, so he has special needs that aren’t always met in a public school. So, his parents were able to get him into a private school near their home, because of the Lindsay Nicole Henry Scholarship.

“It’s allowed Austin to go to a private school in Ardmore, and it’s really huge for us because at a private school he gets a lot of inclusion and time with kids his age,” said LNH Scholarship Recipient Sabrina Smith.

And that’s important for Austin to build social skills.

“Austin learns so much by seeing what other people do. So, inclusion and being in a class with his peers where he can model what they’re doing is huge for him,” said Smith.

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship allows parents or guardians of students with special needs to attend a private school that better fits their child’s needs. Students must already be on an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, to qualify. 

The scholarship also covers foster children, children adopted from foster care and children in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

“This scholarship basically offered an opportunity for many of those parents to have more options when it comes to finding the correct school or the best school for that child’s needs,” said Robert Ruiz with Choice Matters.

The deadline to apply for the privately funded scholarship is Sunday, December 1, and the scholarship still has plenty of money to give.

“This scholarship does not have a cap on it. So literally any student who qualifies can take advantage of this scholarship,” said Robert Ruiz with Choice Matters.

Austin’s parents said the scholarship gives their son the resources and environment, he needs to thrive.

“Because they treat him like a rock star,” said Smith. “And, all the kids come up to him and they give him a hug, and he’s playing with kids his own age and interacting with them. It’s really sweet to see them take care of him.”