Our Autism School is a very special place for children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Here, students learn not only academic lessons, but so much more according to their needs, interests, and goals. They learn skills each day to adapt and open their minds to the world around them and encourage independence for their future. We use a blended method approach to teach children in ways that are most beneficial for each student’s unique learning style, allowing them to achieve their greatest potential.
We are very proud of eight-year-old DJ who enrolled in our autism school last year and is learning so much already. In our small group classrooms, experienced teachers and occupational therapists address DJ’s multiple special needs including being visually impaired, nonverbal, and using a wheelchair when traveling for a distance is needed. A special vision therapist visits several times each month to work with DJ and his classroom team and recently introduced a lightbox and materials to help him. He’s learning to better tolerate sounds around him and self-care skills such as gripping a spoon and bringing it to his mouth and putting on his shirt. His mother, Jacquelin, said, “He is calmer and happier, and learned to communicate with an iPad since he started coming to the Achievement Centers. It gives me a real sense of security knowing his teachers are helping DJ, and that we have a chance for him to be as independent as he can be.”
In addition to his classroom lessons, DJ joins his classmates during community-based instruction outings. Many of the “soft skills” our students learn such as waiting in line, walking in a group, and following directions are best learned through repetition and practical applications. Our students participate in monthly community outings such as visiting an apple orchard, an amusement park, a planetarium, and others. Monthly lesson plans incorporate themes around the community-based instruction outings to prepare the students. For example, before the students visited the planetarium, the students learned about the Earth’s relationship with the Sun and planets through art projects, videos, worksheets, and social stories. Community-based instruction is a research-based teaching methodology to generalize adaptive and daily living behaviors to new environments.
"It gives me a real sense of security knowing his teachers are helping DJ, and that we have a chance for him to be as independent as he can be."Jacquelin, DJ's mother