our asd program
We are proud to have a specialized, inclusion program for students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Students admitted to our ASD program in kindergarten are placed in small integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes, with four or five ASD students and eight to twelve other typically developing students. As the scholars get older, the number of students in each class increases. However, the ASD inclusion classes always have a smaller number of students than typical ICT classes. Students with ASD are fully integrated into all aspects of the school and participate in the same grade-level academic curriculum as their classmates. Every student in the ASD program participates in “social club” several times per week. This small group led by a speech-language pathologist is designed to develop social competencies. Teachers attend the social club with the students and then generate strategies and supports for the classroom setting.
Teachers and other staff who work with these students receive specialized training in strategies and supports designed especially for children with ASD. Once a week, the multidisciplinary team meets, discusses three students with ASD, and collaboratively develops practical solutions to address deficits characteristic of individuals with autism. The team immediately implements these solutions and then discusses growth the next time that student is discussed. During these meetings, professional development is provided by our special education team once per month.
We work closely with three nationally known organizations in the field of autism. The doctors and staff at the Autism Center of YAI, a New York-based non-profit serving children and adults with developmental disabilities, work with us to identify students who can benefit from our program and to connect families to other resources in New York. YAI has one of the nation’s most extensive networks of programs and services to assist people with disabilities in maximizing their potential. Specialized instructors from the TEACCH Autism Program at the University of North Carolina consult with the school to develop a safe, autism-friendly learning environment and cultivate a focus on approaching programming through the lens of a child with autism. TEACCH has a national and international reputation for its work on the education of students with autism, including high-functioning autism. Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking program provides on-site training to our teachers and other staff in research-based strategies and supports for ASD students in the classroom. They also conducts workshops for the families of these students. Michelle Garcia Winner is internationally known for her work in treating students with social cognitive deficits. The Social Thinking framework that she developed integrates information, vocabulary, curriculum, and strategies that help individuals with social learning challenges become better social thinkers.