By Julie Grant

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For 20 years, Pressley Ridge has been educating students living with autism and/or deafness.

While they have a specialized curriculum, they lack a specialized building. Soon, that will change with the building of a new state-of-the-art school.

It was a special groundbreaking, not just because it was indoors, but because dreams are finally being realized at Pressley Ridge.

pressley ridge groundbreaking Officials Break Ground On New Pressley Ridge School Building For Specialized Education

(Photo Credit: Julie Grant/KDKA)

“Pressley Ridge School for the Deaf is uniquely qualified to provide deaf, autistic children with an appropriate education, specifically targeting their disabilities or more importantly their abilities,” said a mother of a Pressley Ridge student.

Soon, the specialized education will happen in a specialized facility.

“All the components that we’re using for construction and for the interior space are designed to be specially formatted for meeting the needs, the special sensory needs that kids with autism and kids that are deaf have,” said Susanne Cole, Pressley Ridge Executive Director.

Autism and deaf experts helped create the new building design.

“There will be special lighting. There will be sound-friendly rooms, so there won’t be lots of buzzing from iridescent lights. We’ll make sure that the space has lots of things that kids can touch,” said Cole.

It’s a $12 million project with more than $3.5 million already raised.

“Spaces that will be used for calming space. Lots of sensory-friendly materials, special windows,” said Cole.

The curriculum is not changing.

“The most important ingredients are already here at Pressley Ridge, because to me what’s most important is the staff,” said a mother of a Pressley Ridge student.

The environment in which the students learn will be specifically geared toward their needs.

“Things that are really conducive to helping children with sensory issues respond better and be able to really grow and learn, not only academically but socially as well,” said Cole.

The hope is to have the new Pressley Ridge School for Autism and Deaf completed in time for the 2019-2020 school year.