Artistic & Autistic Minds

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Written by Alice Williams, Contributing Writer | Photos by Malaina Kinne

Are you looking for a socially engaging, academically challenging school that will encourage your child with Autism to be unapologetically themselves? Have you discovered that your neurodivergent child learns better by incorporating what they have been taught in real-world applications like shopping, creating artwork, or working? The Program for Intellectual Empowerment (P.I.E.), awarded best private school of 2022 by the Beaverton Valley Times, is an education and community-centered organization that enriches neurodivergent students with holistic, science-based support using the Neuro-semantic Language Learning Theory (NsLLT), a neuroeducation model developed by Dr. Ellyn Arwood.

NsLLT, based on the neurobiological process for conceptual learning, is layered. It starts at the sensory level, then overlaps into patterns, and eventually, those patterns create concepts. The program focuses on helping children express themselves by increasing rich language and providing an enriching and respectful socio-cognitive environment. “A lot of the center of P.I.E. (Program For Intellectual Empowerment) is that we don’t believe there’s anything to fix. Everyone is created in God’s image and should be celebrated as such. Our job is to build them up to be better versions of themselves, to be thriving, happy, serving contributing members of society.” says Pauline Lee, Lead Teacher and Executive Director.

Pauline Lee has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child, Adolescent, and Family Studies and Art from California State University and a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis on Neuroeducation from the University of Portland. She has worked with babies and older adults with disabilities for over twenty years. P.I.E.’s dedicated and passionate staff, who are experts in NsLLT, are committed to providing their students with a nurturing and empowering educational experience. P.I.E. offers flexible options for therapy that cater to your needs. Their in-home therapy program brings personalized interventions directly to your doorstep, providing convenience and comfort. Alternatively, you can receive therapy at their Beaverton location.

In their secondary program, which serves students aged 6+, students acquire essential academic skills in reading, writing, science, mathematics, and their passions. They provide a holistic learning experience beyond traditional classroom settings. Students actively apply the concepts they learn by engaging in real-world activities like shopping, creating artwork, participating in work experience opportunities, and more. They learn effective communication by asking for help and engaging meaningfully with their peers. P.I.E. understands that each student’s journey is unique, and they provide a seamless move into their specialized Transition Program for those who turn 18 if deemed the appropriate path for that student.

Their Transition Program offers valuable support and resources for young adults as they navigate the path toward independence and adulthood. It equips them with essential life skills, vocational training, and career exploration opportunities, empowering them to step into the next phase of their lives confidently. Prioritizing independence, staff-supported students can participate in markets by selling the art they design and create, like jewelry and paintings, while practicing social skills by facilitating booths and completing transactions. Students can also learn to balance life as staff-supported Portland Community College Students. Community service opportunities foster collaboration with each other and neuro-typical peers through P.I.E’s partnership with other schools.

Artful Autism is a place where underrepresented artists shine through the power of self-expression in a supportive and inclusive community. The space provides personal and professional opportunities to individuals, including but not limited to those who have disabilities, chronic illnesses, or are neurodivergent. P.I.E. understands these artists have unique needs, and they provide tailored support that will allow them to develop and showcase their artistic talents. Artful Autism is organizing “Pure Night of Imagination” a global art show on November 18th, 2023. To participate, contact The Program for Intellectual Empowerment directly.

At P.I.E., students will be socially engaged, academically challenged, and encouraged to be unapologetically themselves. Please check out their website below to see their plans for the future, including an early learners program projected to start in January 2024.

The Program for Intellectual Empowerment is located at 6700 SW 105th Ave, Suites 100 and 307, Beaverton, OR, 97008. Please give them a call at (503) 572-4718 or visit their websites at and