Thrive Program
The Thrive Program is based on well recognized research under the direction of Dr. George Carlo from the Science and Public Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. which defines best practices for remediating learning and emotional impairments.

Among Dr. George Carlo’s many endeavours, he has worked on federal projects designed to increase performance efficiency and survival of our soldiers. He has also conducted studies with persons with disabilities to discover living and learning habits which enhance intellectual and emotional success.

The Thrive Program aims at creating a maximun amount of time students may operate in the "parasympathetic" state of brain efficiency. The brain operates in this mode when cell configuration  is open, spacious and relaxed, allowing chemicals to flow freely.

As part of Dr. George Carlo’s ongoing study and implementation of his proven research, The McKay Academy is the first school in the world to incorporate neurologically based protocols for living and learning. These protocols will repair damaged and inefficient cell tissues which are highly important for intellectual and emotional balance.
The components of the Thrive Program involve:

  • Regulation of eating schedules to match natural waking cycles of our students.
  • Management of amount and timing of exposure to electromagnetic radiation at home and at school.
  • Classroom teaching time and breaks scheduled for maximum memory and for making “new neuronets” for memory demands while learning.
  • Sleep habits which promote the repair of damaged cells, due to stress, illness, and disability.
  • Teaching in Triads: listing three goals or areas of content to be addressed each class period.​​
  • ​​Providing time for students to build “new neural nets” after direct instruction. Students have application or right brain activity between intense instruction periods.
  • Incorporation of cursive writing into all levels of learning to promote greater neurological efficiency.
  • Use of classical music as background to instruction.
“The McKay Academy is the first school in the world to incorporate neurologically based protocols for living and learning, proven to reverse symptoms of autism, ADHD, developmental delay, and emotional disorders.”
AMUP for Autism
Educational model to address Sensory Integration Issues and Self Stimulatory Behaviors in students with Autism and related conditions.​​

Replacement of self-stimulatory behaviors with rewarding sensory experiences.

AMUP Sensory Room: Students choose or are guided to choose a sense bite.
  • Texture-sand, clay, scratchy surface
  • Movement-rocking chair, swing, tummy scooter, bike
  • Temperature-cold pack, warm pack, warm sand, warm water, wax
  • Chew-bubble gum, taffy, cereal bar, pop corn
  • Fragrance-creams, sprays, foods
  • Touch-creams, blankets, pets, stress balls,
  • Sounds-music, voices of cartoon characters, vehicles, animals, instruments, pans
  • Peeling-Elmer’s Glue
  • Shape puzzles

Sensory Melt Activities
  • Pet Therapy-brushing, leading, walking in synch
  • Water Therapy-warm tub
​​Sensory Workout
  • Sense Ball
  • Creepy Crawlies
  • Ball workout
  • Crawl Tubes

Sensory Factory
  • Color-something funny, furry, frozen
  • Create-Legos, clay, paper, wood
Regulation in the use of electronic devices and exposure to wireless devices.

Exploratory learning in a carefully prepared sensory environment (Application of theories of Montessori) in our ‘Continuous Progress Program.’

Will Training- to redirect impulsive behaviors and guide choices.

Love and Logic Program

Use of Disney Parts of the Brain.

Social Skill Education

Specific Executive Function Strategies in every area of learning.
“Educational model to address Sensory Integration Issues and Self Stimulatory Behaviors in students with Autism and related conditions.​”
Pet Therapy
​​​The McKay Academy has three staff members with extensive experience and specific education in working with animals. Four mini horses and one regular size horse, sheep, goats, two cats, one rabbit and two love birds, along with our German Shepherd,  are used with the students routinely for therapy with the aim of reducing anxiety and providing sensory integration opportunities. 
The goals of a pet therapy program can include:

  • improving motor skills and joint movement
  • improving assisted or independent movement
  • increasing self-esteem
  • increasing verbal communication
  • developing social skills
  • increasing willingness to join in activities
  • improving interactions with others
  • motivating willingness to exercise
“Pet therapy can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also increase self-esteem and improve social skills.”
Sensory Yoga
Yoga classes vary, depending on the particular style or tradition of the teacher or school. Participants may often practice on yoga/exercise mats.

A common yoga class typically includes: an introduction, possibly including some breathing exercises and/or relaxation, physical warm up, yoga postures, movements and stretches.
Some physical benefits of yoga are:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury
“Sensory yoga provides a brain to body integration which helps all activities become fluid.”
Shepherd’s Field
  • Two Year Agricultural College
  • Accepts Students with Diverse Abilities
  • Agricultural Education Employability Skills.
  • Work/ Study program
  • Agricultural concepts: traditional and non-traditional.
  • Agricultural sustainable living curriculum
  • Education for Independent Living in College Living Setting.
  • Social Skill Education
  • Transition Skills for Adulthood
  • Research based “Thrive Program” reverses features of various disorders: include eating, sleeping and learning protocols.

Work collaboratively with nearby farming entities in providing an inclusive educational and living setting for persons with disabilities.

Reduce the unemployment rate among persons with disabilities by providing a work study program which trains for sustainable life and employment skills.

Encourage students with diverse abilities to work side by side, complementing each others’ skills, with the goal of achieving a model inclusive community, in an educational and agricultural environment.

Challenge students with high intellectual potential to discover and implement research based practices for innovative agriculture.
Teach transition skills to students with disabilities who are living away from home for the first time.
  • Cyber safety
  • Technology skills
  • Cooking
  • Social skills
  • ​Transportation
  • Self help
  • Finance
  • Employability
  • Living independently

Teach employability skills to students seeking an Agricultural Degree at Shepherd’s Field college.
Model a totally green environment, living and educational space for students to use in their future living and working environments.
Develop and implement a course of agricultural study which gives immediate related work experience.
Implement concepts of ECHO farms, a world food program designed to conserve resources in agricultural practice.
The mission of Shepherd’s Field is to provide an inclusive two year agricultural college and supportive living experience for students of diverse abilities.


  1. Parachutes for Parents
    Support and outreach programs for families.
  2. Florida Standards
    The McKay Academy complies with the Florida Standards in its curriculum, but delivers it differently.
  3. Non-graded students
    Classes are assigned according to ability, need for credits, social skill abilities and achievement.
  4. Reading
    Orton Gillingham Intensive Reading complemented by a rich literature and non-fiction comprehension program.
  5. Math
    Use of Touch Math, Saxon Math Programs and Advanced Math.
  6. Executive Function Strategies
    Executive Function Strategies to scaffold learning and social skills with a focus on memory, attention, test taking, time management and advocacy.
  7. Social Skills classes
    Ranging from basic social skills to activities involving higher level problems solving.
  8. Occupational, Speech and Language Therapy
  9. Fine Arts Program
  10. Adaptive Physical Education
  11. Little League Baseball


Goodwill Manasota 
South Florida State College
This program enables employees of Goodwill of Manasota to acquire a high school diploma while working. Students at The McKay Academy are given the opportunity to receive job training skills at Goodwill while working at a paying job.
South Florida State College’s Shepherd’s Field program helps students with disabilities earn a college credit certificate or college degree in agriculture. Students receive:  full scholarship, tuition, books and tutor.

  Longwood University in Virginia 
Program is in the works for professors and students from Longwood University to work in our Physical Education program and begin a baseball team at The McKay Academy. Through our Board President Dr. George Carlo, who works with the Detroit Tigers, we may have professional players participating in this endeavor. Through this partnership our school has acquired “Little League” membership for our students.


Phone interview
Tour of school
Assessment interview with parents, student and director
Decide scholarship choices and registration

Please, email or call us at 941-840-5331 to schedule a visit and a tour!
​¡Hablamos Español!