Special programming has been developed for our students with autism. Their classroom and curriculum are designed to meet their specific needs in the areas of sensory experiences, behavior intervention communication, and pre-academics. Some classrooms contain sensory equipment including suspended apparatuses, climbing structures, movement equipment, and tactile stimulation materials. The ReThink program will help to infuse strategies and data collection processes.
Students eligible for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, vision orientation & mobility or hearing services receive intervention to augment their education program. Integration of therapeutic strategies into students’ classroom routines increases their success rate.
Mobility Opportunities Via Education (M.O.V.E.), is an activity –based classroom curriculum designed to teach students basic, functional motor skills needed for adult life within the home and community environments. The program focuses on four general areas:
It combines natural body mechanics with an instructional process designed to help students acquire an increasing amount of motor independence.
The M.O.V.E. program uses a team approach to offer therapy and education to address the functional needs of the students. Equipment is used to assist the children in attaining their goals. It uses prompts that may be decreased or removed as the students increase their skills and independence. Specific individuals will assist with the data collection to ensure that student’s goals are addressed.
The Physical Therapy staff works with identified students and classroom teams to promote functional mobility throughout the school setting. Services include direct intervention and consultative services to assist students in accessing their educational environment. Their focus is on developing functional gross motor skills to promote independence throughout all aspects of the student’s day. In addition, the physical therapists collaborate with families, school staff and equipment vendors to obtain necessary equipment for use at home and school to meet each child’s needs. The school’s M.O.V.E. program is coordinated and monitored by the physical therapy staff. On-going training is a vital aspect of the program.
Occupational Therapy (OT) specializes in improving the development of the small muscles of the body, such as in the hands, fingers, and face. Occupational therapists (OT's) use specific activities to improve fine motor skills and to work toward the prevention of musculoskeletal complications, such as preventing the weakening or deterioration of muscles that can result from lack of use or abnormal tone or positioning. OT’s teach students better or easier ways to write, draw, cut with scissors, brush their teeth, dress and feed themselves. OT’s also teach daily living skills such as dressing, eating, and manipulating objects (i.e., school supplies), as well as making sure children are properly positioned in wheelchairs. A sensory room is available for implementation.
Total Communication methods including switch toys, sign language, pictures, prints, words, computers, facilitated communication, PCS (picture communication, symbols) and voice output devices are used to help students improve communication skills. Communication methods are utilized throughout the school day, and are adapted to every location in the school.
The Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) assesses and provides therapy for students in the use of augmentative communication systems receptive and expressive language skills (both verbal and non-verbal) and to determine the presence and management of dysphasia (swallowing disorder). Additionally, the SLP is responsible for recommending and ordering augmentative communication devices and in training students, staff and parents in their use. Consults are provided to the teachers, parents, and school staff regarding all communication and swallowing needs in addition to providing individual and group therapy.
Picture Communication Symbols (PCS), signing (American Sign Language), and augmentative communication devices are utilized with the vast majority of our students due to their severe speech and language deficits.
Vocational training is emphasized after the age of sixteen through daily classroom practice of vocational skills and participation in weekly-supervised community work experiences. A School wide Vocational Plan has been developed to enhance practice that includes a Life Skills Curriculum. In addition, the Vocational Training Site (VTS) will be combined with a Transition room (in development) for students to further gain daily living skills through a real life feel using resources/materials to enhance their experiences. The use of pictures/portfolios and data collection will serve as evidence.
The Aquatics program provides various adapted activities emphasizing therapeutic needs, swimming skills, and safety skills. While in our heated pool, students are taught components of water safety to enhance their coordination and movement efficiency, and develop a level of swimming skills commensurate with their capabilities. (Following Strict Guidelines)
The purpose of the Adapted Physical Education (APE) Program is to give all students the opportunity to develop gross motor skills that will allow their successful participation in the school, home and community. By participating in varied movement experiences (including dance), and modified sports, students develop movement patterns, enhance basic gross motor skills, and increase level of physical fitness/endurance. The students will practice individual activities as well as participate in cooperative group games. In the process, they develop appropriate interactive behaviors with adults and classmates along with developing a positive self-image. Through play the students’ social skills are developed as they learn to share equipment, wait for a turn, take turns, and follow a simple direction. Students are taught lifetime recreational/leisure activities that help them realize personal enjoyment and the value of physical activity.
Basic music skills and music appreciation using a multi-sensory approach will be infused at scheduled times throughout the year.
The school counselor provides 1:1 and classroom lessons, which deal with appropriate behaviors and social skills, and provides teachers and parents with counseling intervention strategies, which are often reflected in Functional Behavior Plans. The counselor’s position encompasses a certified Nonviolent Crisis Professional responsible for the care, welfare, safety and security of our students. The counselor acts as an advocate for students and promotes partnerships between home, school and the community. The counselor provides guidance and information to parents/guardians relative to referral for resource services outside of school while monitoring daily attendance along with the records secretary on a monthly basis.
The Transdisciplinary team is composed of teachers and therapists who share strategies and appropriate approaches for best practices. Information derived from these discussions is shared with classroom teams, parents and/or advocates for instructional purposes.