This program concentrates on the communication skills of students who have a diagnosis within the Autistic Spectrum Disorders. A wide variety of techniques and interventions are used to develop independent skills.
According to IDEA 2004, Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that will adversely affect a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with Autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, or unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance.
Curriculum and Instruction
A wide variety of educational approaches and techniques are used within the Autistic Support Program to develop verbal and academic skills, and life skills as well as to provide behavioral support. A strong link between school and family is developed in order to enhance the skills, which lead to the student becoming an independent adult.
Curriculum and Specially Designed Instruction include:
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)– This is a data based approach, which uses systems of task analysis, reinforcement, and prompting to strengthen and improve student responses.
- Verbal Behavior Approach– This approach focuses on teaching children a specific set of skills used to communicate across all environments, including requests, speaking, labeling, and responding to the speech of others. Motivation is a key component to teaching in the verbal behavior approach.
- Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS)– This is an assessment, curriculum guide, and skills tracking system for children with Autism and other language delays. The ABLLS contains a task analysis of the many skills necessary to communicate successfully and to learn from everyday experiences.
- Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)– This is a method of identifying the function which an inappropriate behavior serves for a child in order to teach a more acceptable way of expressing that need. This evaluation leads to the development of IEP goals and objectives.
- Transition– Post-school outcomes are considered when developing an IEP for students of transition age. Post-school training, living arrangements, employment, and recreational activities for adult life are all components of a transition plan.
- Errorless Teaching– This methodology employs immediate prompting for unknown items to ensure correct responses.
- Natural Environment Teaching– This is a method of generalizing a student’s skills to the natural environment. This approach takes advantage of all communicating opportunities throughout a student's day.
- Treatment & Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) Approach– This is a highly structured approach to task initiation and completion, which fosters independence.
- Augmentative Systems of Communication– This is an alternative means of communication used when a child is unable to speak or is unintelligible:
- Sign Language– Hand movements that represent words or ideas.
- Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)– Exchanging a picture of a desired item to a communicative partner in exchange for that item.
- Assistive Devices– Machines that have a vocal output which the child accesses by touching a picture.
- Visual Strategies– These strategies use pictures and written words to help a student to process auditory information.
- Sensory Strategies– These strategies provide activities, techniques, and equipment to help students respond appropriately to a variety of sensory stimuli.
- Integrated Therapy Approach– All goals related to speech and occupational therapy are integrated into the daily routines and instructions for each student. Opportunities presented in the natural environment are used instructionally with the student’ s goals in mind.