Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A New School

This afternoon we visited the classroom where our district is setting up their new pre-K program for students with autism. We've decided that it's the right place for Joseph at this time.

Last November we discussed putting Joseph in an autism center. I liked the idea of a program designed specifically for students with autism, and the low student to teacher ratio (at the time, Step By Step Academy still had 1 to 1 available). However, we ultimately decided that Joseph had been making great progress, and regardless of the potential for faster progress in a center, the typically developing peer models in Dublin's classrooms were more important.

They told us that this is exactly why they've established this program. They talked to parents who had chosen to use Ohio's Autism Scholarship Program (in Ohio, any autistic student can receive $20k annually to pay for education outside of the public school, this can pay for ABA aides, a private school, or an autism center). The lower student to teacher ratio was the biggest reason most of them cited.

It's all a bit technical for me, but as I mentioned in my previous post, this new class is based on the TEACCH model. The two main differences, apparently, are that it's in a typical preschool setting, and they have peer models. Joseph is the fifth student to be signed up for the class, there are already 2 peer models and 2 ASD students. They're going to be signing up more peer models to keep it balanced. The teacher and the class aide both have extensive professional experience with kids with autism spectrum disorders. They also have connections with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Autism Center so when we establish Joseph's formal ABA home program, it will be easier to coordinate with what they're doing at school. Also, the school has procured an iPad 2 for the class, and I told the teacher that if they're willing to work on it with him, we're all about sending Joseph's iPad with him to school (this is a change from his previous class, where they didn't know how it worked and were hesitant to use it).

I think that we're excited for this change. I hope that the more structured environment will be what Joseph needs.

1 comment:

  1. How many students will there be total in the class with the ASD and peer model students combined? And will it be a 50/50 mix? Just curious.