Welcome to the Lighthouse Learning & Development Centre

The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre was developed by our Executive Director, Serena Thompson. Serena is unique in this industry, as it wasn’t her education or professional experience that led her on this journey, but rather the love she has for her son, who is on the Autism spectrum.

Serena understands better than anyone how important individualized learning plans are for each and every child on the spectrum. Serena’s son Daniel has experienced a variety of educational settings, from private school to home schooling to the public school board. Unfortunately, none of these experiences truly addressed the unique learning abilities Daniel has.

The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre was born after Serena had to pull Daniel out of his private school and was yet again at a turning point. Daniel had been in the public system for a short time; however, due to severe regression he was pulled out. Daniel was then home schooled, which was an excellent academic alternative, though it did not provide the social setting that Daniel needed and so desperately wanted. Daniel was then placed in a small private school. The private school provided an extraordinary social opportunity, but the lack of Autism awareness by the administration proved to be detrimental to Daniel’s success.

Of course, Serena was upset that the school she had researched and spent so much time with didn’t work out, so she decided that it was time to take matters into her own hands. There is no one more determined than a mother trying to help her child, and so The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre was born – the only school for children with autism in York Region.

The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre believes that every child has the potential to do and be something great. We also understand that in order for children to be given the opportunity to reach their full potential, they need to be taught in a way that they understand. The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre takes great pride in the program that we create for each and every child.

We accept children from grades K-12, however, we believe that no two children have the same learning plan — no matter what “grade” they are in. When a child comes to us at The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre, they are assessed in every unit that we teach. Based on those assessments, information we learn from the family and any outside resources, we create the child’s learning plan. We then have a parent meeting to discuss the child’s learning goals and the specific plan we have created to achieve those goals.

Unlike other educational institutions, The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre is continuously assessing the children and changing their learning plan as they achieve goals and progress. The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre depends greatly on the involvement of our parents. Children need an entire team to grow and prosper. The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre works closely with parents to ensure that our children have every chance to succeed.

Our Approach

Imagine a place where every single person believed the statement above whole-heartedly; where the differences in the children were not just accepted but embraced. A place where children were free to be themselves, are taught to love themselves and encouraged to be better for themselves every single day.  The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre strives to be “that place” for all of our students, every single day.

Learning differences are just that: differences. Having a learning difference doesn’t mean you can’t learn, it means you learn differently. Imagine sitting in a classroom where everyone was speaking a foreign language and no one took the time to explain to you what was being said. Unfortunately, that is how most children with Autism feel in their classrooms.

Children with Autism have unique barriers to learning, some of which include auditory processing impairments, attention difficulties, inability to generalize, trouble with task and event sequencing, problems with organization and planning, and difficulties with time and transitioning. These barriers require modifications to the mainstream curriculum to help ensure their success. However, modifications cannot be put in place until we learn how each individual child learns best. Not all children have the same barriers thus not every child will succeed with the same plan. Individual learning plans for children with Autism are essential in their learning journey. Without these plans, children will never be able to overcome the unique barriers they face.

“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn.”

O. Ivar Lovaas


Yes, we do offer 1:1 ABA Therapy in a NET setting. Additionally we are an approved OAP provider.

We do follow the Ontario Curriculum with modifications to individualize learning plans that are specific to each student in our centre.Our programs also include evidence based treatment modules to ensure the success of each of our children.
Our admission requirement for our students is that they have a primary diagnosis of Autism. We understand that the majority of our students will also have other diagnoses; however, the student’s primary diagnosis must be Autism.

Our ratios change depending on the ability and age of our students. Our homeroom ratios are 3:1 with 1 Ontario-certified teacher to every 7 students. We do not offer 1:1 ratios; however, if your child meets our admission criteria we can help you find a 1:1 assistant. We also welcome current team members that families may already have in place to come and assist your child. During our admission intake, if our staff determines that a child requires 1:1 assistance in order to participate in our program, this will have to be set up prior to the child’s first day.

Yes! Please reach out to us for more information.

The Lighthouse is a NOT-for-profit educational facility. We are so excited to share our new charitable status with you all.