Autism Friendly Preschools in the Ann Arbor Area

Children playing on a playground.
Group of preschoolers. Photo provided by Megg Buis,

Parents today are flooded with daycare and preschool options. So many factors come into play when choosing childcare: teacher to child ratio, curriculum structure, tuition, accommodations and facilities, to name just a few.

The unique needs of children with special needs often add an additional layer of complexity to the mix. Some providers cater themselves to neurodivergent children by offering extra assistance. We collected a few autism friendly preschools in the greater Ann Arbor area for parents to check out. 

Foundations Preschool

Foundations Preschool’s is driven by a mission to [prepare] children for success and [empower] families, and they have been doing just that since 1934. They serve children as young as 6 weeks to 5 years.

Executive Director Sandy Williams said, “we believe that all children deserve to be seen as individuals with individual needs”.

Children with special needs are evaluated for admission on a case-by-case basis, and staff administers the Ages & Stages Questionnaire to all students within the first month of enrollment. There are currently 18 students with an IFSP/IEP. A social worker is also on staff to assist families. To better support students with sensory and behavioral challenges, the center redesigned their environment to reduce visual/auditory stimuli. Tuition rates for full-time programs are $1455/month (infant/toddler) and $1235/month (preschool). Income-based scholarships and tuition assistance are available. 

3770 Packard Rd. Ann Arbor. 734-677-8130.

Gretchen’s House Center

Gretchen’s House has 8 locations spread across Washtenaw County, one of which shares space with High Point School in Ann Arbor, allowing for strong collaboration between both schools. Gretchen’s House supports children with disabilities ages 3 months to 5 years. They provide a 1:4 teacher to student ratio in infant/toddler classrooms and 1:8 ratio in preschool classrooms. Staff follows the HighScope curriculum, focusing on building physical, mental, cognitive and social-emotional development. Tuition rates for full-time programs are $2,674/month (infant/toddler) and $1806/month (preschool), but several options are available.  

1735 South Wagner Rd. Ann Arbor. 734-994-8111 Ext: 1696.

High Point School 

A child smiling.
Photo provided by Megg Buis.

Coordinated through Washtenaw Intermediate School District, High Point School is a tuition-free program for students with physical and neurological conditions requiring higher level support. Since 1990, High Point School has provided premier care for toddlers and preschoolers ages 3 years and up. Services offered include OT, PT, speech therapy, music therapy, adaptive aquatics, social work and more. The facilities are designed to enable interdisciplinary collaboration and enrich students’ learning experiences. A referral from current school district staff and a comprehensive psychological, OT, speech and PT evaluation at both High Point School and the local school district is required for admission. 

1819 South Wagner Rd. PO Box 1406 Ann Arbor. 734-994-8111 Ext: 1600.

Little Angels Preschool & Daycare

Compassion and care have been a cornerstone of the culture at Little Angels Preschool & Daycare (L.A.P.D.) since 1994. Teachers here utilize the creative curriculum: a child-led naturalistic approach to learning inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy.

Owner/director Diana Kontoyiannakis shared that their flexible schedule allows them to extend extra support to children with special needs. “We have several kids with IFSPs/IEPs and we try to incorporate goals into their daily schedules. One child is accompanied by an ABA technician, and we have several kids who receive speech therapy,” she said. 

RELATED: Childcare and Preschool Guide 2024

Staff also screens children annually for developmental concerns and makes referrals to Early On or pediatricians if required. L.A.P.D. admits children between ages 3 months to 5 years. Teacher to student ratios vary: 1:4 in the infant/toddler classrooms, 1:6 in young preschool classrooms, and 1:10 in the preschool/pre-k classrooms. Tuition rates for full-time programs are $465/week (infant/toddler), $370/week (young preschool) and $350/week (preschool/pre-k). Tuition assistance is available. 

850 S. Hewitt Ypsilanti. 734-998-0233.

Sprouted Sage Full Circle Intervention Center

Founded by Dr. Suzi Naguib, Carrie Miller and Jeff Snyder in 2021, Sprouted Sage Full Circle Intervention Center is structured like a preschool, providing autistic children with an array of clinical services in a naturalistic environment. Sprouted Sage’s First Roots Therapeutic Day Program admits children between the ages of 12 months to 6 years. Students are split by age and developmental level: Roots (12 months to 3 years), Seedlings (2-3 years), Sprouts (2 years 5 months- 4 years) and Buds (4-6 years). Services offered include 1:1 ABA therapy (6 hours/day), Speech and Occupational Therapy (2-4 30-minute sessions weekly). All students receive 1:1 ABA support and there is a 1:6 teacher to student ratio. Sprouted Sage’s sister organizations include the Sunfield Center and Sunfield Institute. The center is tuition-free, but accepts BCBS and BCN insurance plans, given a child has an autism diagnosis. 

3940 Ranchero Drive Suite 100 Ann Arbor. 734-929-4596.

Westerman Preschool & Family Center

The Westerman Preschool & Family Center offers toddler/preschool programs for children with special needs through Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS). The district offers special services for children requiring extra help, sometimes requiring an assessment for admission. State-funded initiatives for special needs kiddos include Early On for youngsters ages 0-3 years, Early Childhood Special Education for children ages 3-5, Great Start Readiness Program for ages 4-5 years, and Head Start for economically disadvantaged children ages 3-4 years. Furthermore, First Steps Early Childhood Program offers various classes. Children must turn 3 years on or before December 1st of the previous school year to enroll at Westerman. Tuition rates for full time preschool classes are $1100/month. Tuition assistance is available for families who qualify. 

2775 Boardwalk Dr. Ann Arbor. 734-994-2252.