The District provides AS for students determined to be eligible for special education services and in need of AS due to his/her identification as a school aged child with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The District's AS programs have expanded from two to three of our schools due to the increased need within our community. Students represent the entire spectrum of Autism, from students diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and functioning within the gifted range of intelligence to students with severe autism and significant cognitive challenges. The amount of time a student receives AS and the related services provided varies from full time to itinerant according to the individual student's educational need(s) as documented in the student's Evaluation/Reevaluation Report and recommended by the student's IEP team. Related services may include speech/language therapy, social skills training, occupational and/or physical therapy, counseling, nursing support, transition services and/or behavioral support.
Behavior Specialists are an integral part of the IEP team for students in AS programs within the District. Behavior Specialists assist with the Functional Behavior Assessment process and the development and implementation of Positive Behavior Support Plans that contribute to the successful education of students with autism in the least restrictive environment.
Social skills training also is an important aspect of the AS program that assists with students success in the community. This training is provided by either a speech/language therapist or the AS teacher to facilitate the student's acquisition, generalization, and mastery of social skills needed across current and future environments. In addition to students, parents and staff are taught a common vocabulary to reinforce "expected" behaviors and discourage "unexpected" behaviors for successful social interactions. Social skills training has been expanded at the elementary schools to include a common social emotional curriculum accompanying by tiered interventions, so that young students with autism increase their appropriate engagement with other students during recess and have the skills and opportunities to develop friendships. Social skills training has contributed significantly to the successful inclusion of students in general education programs at all schools.
Students with severe autism or with significant cognitive challenges also have access to life skills training for living independently in the community. This may include participating in community based activities to promote skill development in the areas of transportation, shopping, recreation; practicing self-help skills within the high school's apartment; or participating in community based work experiences with the supervision of job coaches.