Since its inception, The Autism Model School has maintained a commitment to the use of evidence-based interventions that aims to support our students toward leading meaningful and happy lives. A multi-disciplinary approach (including applied behavior analysis, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy) is taken to develop a highly individualized education plan for each student enrolled at the Autism Model School. The information provided below is intended to provide a broad overview of some of the curricular options available to students at The Autism Model School. Visitors to this site are advised to keep in mind that each child with autism has specific individual needs that must be addressed. As such, no list provided here is intended to be completely comprehensive of ALL of the needs of ALL students. Staff at the Autism Model School work collaboratively to ensure that each student has an individually-tailored plan designed to address their most significant needs. Often times, additional (often discipline-specific) assessments and/or treatment plans must be administered/developed to most appropriately serve each student.
With that said, most of our students have individual goals that target relevant gains in the some or all of the following educational domains: language/communication, adaptive behavior, social/leisure skills, fine and gross motor development, activities of daily living and independent living, learner readiness skills, traditional academics, and community participation/job-readiness. The Autism Model School utilizes the science of Applied Behavior Analysis as a foundation for addressing each of these educational domains.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied Behavior Analysis utilizes the general principles of learning, with an emphasis on the use of positive reinforcement, to solve or reduce problems of social relevance. Over 40 years of research exists supporting the use of procedures based in the science of Applied Behavior Analysis towards not only reducing problematic behavior but also increasing appropriate skills (communication, social/leisure, academics, activities of daily living, etc.) with individuals with developmental disabilities-including autism.
Due to the overwhelming peer-reviewed evidence-base, several national scientific organizations have officially concluded that Applied Behavior Analysis is an effective treatment approach for individuals with autism. These organizations include The National Institute of Mental Health, The National Academies Press, The Association for Science in the Treatment of Autism, Autism Speaks, and The Organization for Autism Research. In addition, the Surgeon General of the United States released a report in 1999 (Surgeon General Report on Mental Health) in which autism treatment was specifically addressed with the following statement: “30 years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.” More information related to Applied Behavior Analysis can be obtained at the following Websites:
Association for Behavior Analysis- International:
Association of Professional Behavior Analysts:
Behavior Analyst Certification Board:
Your Child’s Individual Curriculum Begins with You…
Our teachers seek parent input during all stages of the drafting of your child’s individualized education plan leading up to and during the Individual Education Plan Team Meeting. If there are particular skills that you feel should be prioritized in your child’s education, inform your child’s teacher and we will work to include this skill (or a relevant pre-requisite skill) in your child’s individual education plan.
Language and Learner Readiness Assessments, Curriculum Guides, and Curriculum
The Autism Model School utilizes a variety of assessments to help inform and pinpoint educational needs of each individual student. Due to the wide developmental (and age) range of our student body, we select student assessments on an individual basis. Several of our classrooms utilize the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) or the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills- Revised (ABLLS-R) as a backbone for determining where to begin instruction with your child. The results of these assessments lead to the development of an individually tailored curriculum for each child. Additionally, the Autism Model School utilizes the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) with several students who may not be ready for vocal-verbal communication. PECS is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system developed for individuals with developmental disabilities-including autism. The PECS intervention system places a primary emphasis on the initiation aspect of communication. More information related to each of these tools can be found here:
The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders identified Computer Aided Instruction in their review of evidence-based practices for individuals with autism. The Autism Model School has several computer-based instructional options for students including the following:
MimioSprout Reading: an early reading program that utilizes the science of applied behavior analysis to take non-readers to a 2nd grade reading level. More information can be found at http://www.headsprout.com/growtoknow/pages/hser/about_her.cfm
TeachTown Basics: provides a series of online and offline programming targeting skills across 6 domains: 1) Adaptive Skills, 2) Cognitive Skills, 3) Language Arts, 4) Language Development, 5) Mathematics, 6) Social and Emotional Skills. TeachTown is aligned with More information can be found here: http://web.teachtown.com/products/teachtown-basics-classroom
PLATO Courseware: a standards-based online learning program that provides courses in a wide range of core subjects, electives, global languages, honors, and Advanced Placement® offerings. More information can be found here: http://www.edmentum.com/products-services/plato-courseware
Direct Instruction (DI) programming serves as the backbone of academic programming at The Autism Model School. Over 40 years of research on how students learn and the best ways to teach have resulted in the development of these programs. Studies involving DI curriculum have been conducted with a variety of populations including disadvantaged students and students with developmental disabilities (including autism). The National Institute for Direct Instruction identifies the basic philosophy and assumptions of Direct Instruction as follows:
– All children can be taught.
– All children can improve academically and in terms of self image.
– All teachers can succeed if provided with adequate training and materials.
– Low performers and disadvantaged learners must be taught at a faster rate than typically occurs if they are to catch up to their higher-performing peers.
– All details of instruction must be controlled to minimize the chance of students’ misinterpreting the information being taught and to maximize the reinforcing effect of instruction.
Students at The Autism Model School are administered individual placement tests to determine their precise instructional needs as it relates to academic instruction. Based on the results of these placement tests, students are grouped into classes for each subject with peers that require instruction delivered at a similar level. The Autism Model School provides highly structured Direct Instruction curriculum in the areas of Language and Communication, Reading-Decoding, Reading-Comprehension, Logic/Reasoning & Writing, and Mathematics. More information about Direct Instruction and the specific curricula used at The Autism Model School can be obtained at the following Web sites:
National Institute for Direct Instruction: http://www.nifdi.org/
McGraw Hill Education: https://www.mheonline.com/discipline/tags/1/3
Life Skills and Job-Readiness
Students at The Autism Model School have a wide variety of opportunities available to them to gain meaningful experience with daily living skills, community-based experience in the areas of recreation/leisure, community-based instruction related to everyday living skills, and vocational/job experiences (both on and off campus). Most of our community-based activities focusing on recreation/leisure and everyday living skills are guided by the completion of the Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS). Work experiences may be completed on-campus and off-campus. Our on-campus work experiences are guided by the Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) Lab. Supported off-campus work experiences are also available for students and are selected based on a combination of student interest, mastery of pre-requisite skills, and employer availability.
Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) Lab: a hands-on lab providing realistic simulated work experiences across 5 different career/domains: 1) Business/Marketing, 2) Consumer Service, 3) Construction/Industrial, 4) Computer Technology, and 5) Processing/Production. More information regarding the PAES Lab can be found here: http://www.talentassessment.com/pages/PAES
Assessment of Functional Life Skills (AFLS): a series of assessments and comprehensive task analyses that extend across 3 different environmental domains: 1) Basic Living Skills, 2) Home Living Skills, 3) Community-Participation Skills. More information about the AFLS can be obtained here: http://www.partingtonbehavioranalysts.com/page/afls-74.html