ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Saturday, July 15, 2006: 10:00 AM-11:15 AM
#2191- Partner Classrooms- Coming Soon to a School Near You!
Providing quality service to children with autism and related disorders involves significant modifications to a number of educational areas. For 30 years, The New England Center for Children has provided intensive instruction based on the principles of ABA. One motivating question at NECC, “Could children receive quality services based on principles of ABA in public school if the right support structures were available?” If so, what support structures would be necessary to foster a successful partnership with a public school?

Presenters:Amy S. Geckeler, MA, BCBA, New England Center for Children, Director of Consultation Services - Amy Geckeler has a Masters Degree in ABA and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who currently serves as Director of Consultation at the New England Center for Children. She teaches in the Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Program at Northeastern University. Amy began at NECC in 1990 and has worked in the residential program, intensive instructional preschool program, staff training and consultation departments. Amy’s research interests include early intensive intervention, social skills, stereotypic behavior, reinforcement and choice. Her work has been published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Amy has presented her work at regional and international conferences.

Daryl A. Rynning, MS, Ed., BCBA, New England Center for Children,, Director of Transition Services - Daryl Rynning has a Masters Degree in Intensive Special Needs and is a Certified Behavior Analyst who joined The New England Center for Children in August of 1989. She is Program Director for Transition Services. She serves as Practicum Supervisor and Lecturer for Simmons College Graduate Program in Special Education, supervising graduate students completing fieldwork. She provides consultation and training in ABA to programs and individual cases in schools throughout Massachusetts. She has presented case studies at regional and national conferences. Daryl's research interests include self-monitoring behavior, social skills, curriculum modification and using Applied Behavior Analysis in public schools.

William L. Holcomb, Phd, BCBA, New England Center for Children, Director of Home-Based Services - William L. Holcomb, PhD, BCBA has been the Program Director of Home-based Services, at The New England Center for Children. Previous experience includes working with people with developmental disabilities, coordinator of parent training and project director on a training grant from the Federal Department of Education (Preservice Training for Special Educators: Studies in Autism) at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, Waltham, MA. Dr. Holcomb is on the faculty of Northeastern University Master's Program in ABA. He is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Bouvé College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Department of Counseling Psychology, Rehabilitation, and Special Education at Northeastern University.

This session will describe the procedures used by a private non-profit school to translate an intensive service delivery model for children with autism into a public school setting. This presentation will focus on NECC's Partner Program model, the structured supports, training, staffing ratios, curriculum and collaboration needed to support children with autism in public school settings.

Research has indicated that children with autism receiving intensive education services based on the principles of applied behavior analysis can make significant gains in social and cognitive skills. In addition, some of these children will be able to become successful learners in general education settings. Public schools provide educational services to children with varying learning needs. Providing special education services to children with a wide array of needs can present a challenge in designing the best quality services for a particular population, such as children with autism. For this reason, children diagnosed with autism may receive their education in placements outside of their home school system, in an effort to obtain the best quality educational services.

While specialized service settings may have more resources for providing the intensive clinical and education services that produce effective learning in children with autism, some of the benefits of being in a public school may be lost. This includes increased exposure to peer models and social interactions, opportunities to demonstrate skills in the natural environment and exposure with one's social community. While some children with autism may require the services provided in a private placement, many children with autism may successfully learn skills in their home schools given the appropriate educational and clinical supports.

In an effort to provide the highest quality educational services to children with autism with the benefits of placement in a public school setting, NECC developed the Partner Program classroom model. The Partner Program provides the best of both worlds – 30 years of experience in providing highly specialized educational services designed specifically for children with autism and inclusion in a child's home school and community. The ultimate goal: to teach children with autism the skills necessary to be successful learners in the general education setting and provide training and support to the school system as a whole.

The model is based on NECC's private school intensive instructional programs which include full-day services, across the entire calendar year. The Partner Program provides the same service delivery model to children with autism in their home school district. Curricula are individualized to teach academic, social, language, motor, self help, leisure and life skills. All instructional methods used to teach new skills are based on the most effective techniques to educate children with autism. Educational lessons may take place in a separate classroom, in the child's general education classroom, or in the child's home. The child receives instruction and support across the day from a trained 1:1 instructional tutor. The program also provides a full-time on site Master's level supervisor who receives weekly consultation from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Both of these positions have experience and skills educating children with autism and are employed by the NECC.

This presentation will outline the comprehensive service delivery model for a partnership between public schools and a school that specializes in serving children with autism. The classroom resources, training and supervision of staff, curriculum used to educate children, family support services and the steps to effectively collaborate in public schools will be described. The New England Center for Children has used this model to provide services for children with autism in public school settings for the past seven years. Currently, 10 different public schools in Massachusetts use the model as part of their educational service delivery. Preliminary outcome data describing future placement of students leaving the Partner Program will also be presented.

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