Services- the bare minimum……

I am not new to the the supports and services that are crucial to a child on the spectrum- especially on the higher functioning end of it. When I work with and advocate for a family there are several things that I consider minimally acceptable level of services and accommodation. They include:
  • communication system- help card, break card, other ways for her to visually communicate what she needs
  • modifications-it’s very likely that a child on the spectrum in the lower grades is not being exposed to their grade level curriculum or is being presented with the same materials the other children are given in the same way. Is there technology in use? Is her special interest used to keep her on track? Is the work broken down into small sections with frequent breaks? Is data collected and used to determine the level of modification required at a given time?
  • peer support- START based peer training, supervision and guidance. I am not talking about circle of friends, a one time explanation of the child’s label, or a list of her deficiencies. Are the kids in her class taught what they need to know about autism, the way she learns, her social difficulties, and how they can help academically and socially, and are they given positive feedback regarding the importance of their role in your child’s success?
  • visual schedule-Does the VS reflect IEP goals and is it clear that the data from this sheet is used to change the students supports, expectations, or curriculum, or to reinforce completion of tasks.
  • behavior plan- what is reinforced when? Is there a consistent, functional plan in place. Is the student given a reward when she completes a task or when she’s distracted and disruptive? Are there a variety of reinforcers being use? Is there a warning system in place so that she knows when she is exhibiting unacceptable behavior. Is there any consistency in when she is given attention, allowed to escape from tasks, or given what she requests even if it’s not appropriate at that time (time in the hall with a favorite staff member, walk around when she should be sitting). ***This is the part that concerns me the most. Inconsistent responses and reinforcement of inappropriate behavior can confuse and frustrate a student to the point of causing agitation and meltdowns that to the staff might seem out of context, irrational, and confusing, but to anyone who has some understanding of behavior make perfect sense.


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