EASTCONN Autism Program
The EASTCONN Autism Program offers a highly structured, intensive, individualized program, including extended year services with an emphasis on systematic teaching and dependable environments that promote learning and generalization. The curriculum:
Instructional activities provide a variety of developmentally and functionally appropriate activities, experiences, and materials that engage students in meaningful learning.
The EASTCONN Autism Program has applied behavior analysis (ABA) as its foundation. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is on staff for imbedded consulting. Positive behavior supports, based on a functional behavioral assessment (FBA), are used to address challenging behavior. The program has individually-developed behavioral programs that:
A FBA is used to direct intervention planning for persistent challenging behaviors. Multiple methods (e.g., direct observations, functional analysis, rating scales, and interviews) are used in conducting the FBA. The FBA identifies both immediate (e.g., request to perform a task) and more distant (e.g., poor sleeping habits) factors that increase challenging behaviors. The FBA identifies one or more functions for the challenging behaviors. Environmental accommodations and adaptations are used to prevent or minimize occurrences of the problem behavior. Instruction in alternative, appropriate skills (e.g., communication, social, or self-regulatory skills) is routinely incorporated into behavior intervention plans. Behavioral interventions are based on positive supports and strategies. Behavior intervention plans focus on long-terms outcomes (e.g., making new friends, participating in extracurricular activities).
Integrated multidisciplinary approach, including Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Assistive Technology.
The program, in collaboration with the LEA, offers opportunities for interaction with nondisabled peers in both informal and planned interactions, at the student’s home district . The program provides individual support for each student engaged in defined inclusion activities. Inclusion discussions begin when the student enters the program. However, inclusion activities are determined through the PPT process. Training and ongoing support are provided to the general education teachers and staff, as requested by the LEA.
The EASTCONN Autism Program, in collaboration with the LEA, parents, and other professionals, work together in planning transitions from EAP to the student’s home district, or other programs. All aspects of planning include the LEA, defined program staff, student (whenever appropriate), parents and other family members, current and receiving professionals, and other relevant individuals. Transition planning begins while the student is in the current placement and provides the student and family with the opportunity to visit the new setting (i.e., meet teachers, view classrooms). Planning integrates considerations of future placements (i.e., skills needed in the next classroom or school setting) with the student’s current program.
The EASTCONN Autism Program is visited bi-weekly by a specially-trained therapy dog. The students’ class work is based around the dog being in the room. The teachers incorporate the therapy dog into the regular curriculum. Students work on taking turns and caring for the dog; brushing, feeding, and walking. These activities are supervised by a certified therapy dog specialist, the teachers and instructors.
Students can sit with the dog and incorporate him into individualized teaching time such as counting his toes /ears, naming different parts on the dog that start with certain letters, practice walking nicely, running hands over the dog for sensory input. Dog Therapy is an excellent learning tool for the students.
Support for parental involvement is a key component, with emphasis on the family as an integral part of the team. Parents are invited to arrange time to observe their child during the school day. A schedule is developed with the child’s teacher.
Parents are encouraged to attend quarterly meetings with the teacher and program staff to review their child’s progress and discuss any concerns regarding the program. Daily Home Logs keep families informed of the day-to-day activities of each child. Weekly phone calls to parents provide an opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns with the teachers.
Homes visits are held twice each month to provide parents with in-home support. A trained Instructor visits the student and an adult family member who works with the child in the home. Home visit goals are established by the family and the home instructor.
LEA consultative services, which provide in-district support and training to staff who are working with students on the autism spectrum are available. Such services can range from staff consults to completing functional behavioral assessments for children, then meeting with the school team to provide recommendations and training. EASTCONN consultants meet with districts to discuss and assess their needs, then work to meet those needs with the goal of students remaining in-district for their educational programming. Our goal is to help districts build capacity through training and support to create an inclusive educational environment.