Elementary Autism FAQ

What is the focus of the elementary autism program?

The development of communication skills is the focus of our approach. Students are taught a dedicated curriculum that targets skills important for students with autism to exhibit, as well as Ohio academic content standards. As part of our program, we also focus on appropriate behavior and the development of independent routines for a classroom setting. These efforts are designed to give students a better opportunity to integrate into regular school placements in the future.

What advantages are there for placing several students with autism together in one classroom?

Students with autism need an intensive level of intervention for a majority of the school day in order to make progress. In addition, since very specialized training is required to implement the academic and behavioral requirements of such a program for autism, it is often not possible to replicate such a level of support for one or two students in a regular school placement. Using this model, our experienced staff is prepared for most circumstances that arise. We also have dedicated psychologists and related service providers whose training and professional development are focused on the field of autism. While we recognize the importance of exposure to typically developing peers, we feel that unless a student is ready for such a placement, it may jeopardize their future social success if they are unable to demonstrate the minimal skills needed in such environments. However, as soon as peers demonstrate these skills, we have opportunities for them in regular activities and settings, including supported partial placements in regular classrooms in our building.

What are the criteria for being in the elementary autism program?

While the main criteria for entering the elementary autism program is that the student has a diagnosis of Autism, a team of professionals will make the final determination of appropriateness for our classroom. Students with severe cognitive deficits may be better served in a multiple disabilities classroom. Because the condition of autism makes this distinction difficult to ascertain with young children, if this cannot be determined initially, a poor response to our programming may prompt such a transition after a student has been carefully assessed over time. Most students transition from our county preschool Autism programs, but other circumstances may warrant placement (e.g. move-in).

What is the makeup of the elementary autism program?

The elementary autism program is designed to address the needs of students from kindergarten to second grade. A teacher and four behavior technicians provide services to approximately seven children with moderate to severe autism. The classroom is supervised by two MVESC school psychologists who provide behavioral support, conduct evaluation activities and coordinate professional development. In addition, there are dedicated speech, occupational and physical therapists who provide related support.

Where do students go after leaving the elementary autism program?

At the end of second grade (if not sooner), a transition decision is made to determine what will be the most appropriate placement for the future. Since there are currently no self-contained autism classrooms beyond the second-grade level, students in our program either transition back to their neighborhood school or to a self-contained multiple disabilities classroom. For students transitioning back to their neighborhood school, a plan is locally developed to best serve these students. For students having left our program in the past, this has ranged from special education assistance in a regular classroom to the need for a classroom aide.