Prior to teaching, the first step is conducting an assessment of the student’s current skills, to create measureable goals.
These goals are individualized and address the following components of instruction; functional spontaneous communication, social skills, play/motor skills, cognitive development, functional academic skills and proactive interventions to address challenging behavior. Our classrooms have different student-to-teacher ratios, depending on the needs of the class.
Every Classroom Utilizes:
- Antecedent and consequential strategies to produce positive outcomes
- A Board Certified Behavior Analyst to develop curriculum, provide guided practice, supervise in the classroom, analyze data and monitor student progress
- Manipulatives and hands-on material beyond worksheets and writing tasks
- Visual schedules and supports
- Clear expectations and classroom rules
- Token economies specific for student’s preferences
- Functional behavior assessments aimed at reducing problem behaviors that interfere with the learning process
- Repetition and consistency to reinforce learned skills
- Transitional cues and predictable routines
- Prompting, fading and other evidence-based teaching procedures
- Parent involvement via daily communication forms and IEP meetings
- Sensory integration and movement
- Reinforcement and focus on building cooperation and self-esteem
- A supervisory and data collection system
- Parent training to be offered at minimum two times per year
- Teacher training to be conducted at minimum four times a year
THE APEX PROGRAM:
This program is a 6:1 ratio classroom of students with a 251-253 matrix number unless given special consideration from our clinical director. This is a highly academic program with emphasis on social, emotional, and academic skills. These students have individualized goals aligned to the Common Core standards of Florida for their grade levels. However, for students not performing at grade level, work will be modified at an adaptive pace. The students will be responsible for completing weekly homework and returning it to their teacher. Curriculum for The Apex Program includes social decision making and problem solving. Concepts in the areas of self-control, social awareness, feeling awareness and decision making are addressed in small groups and virtually infused throughout the school day. This curriculum is an evidence-based approach to building skills that students need for success in school and in life. Integrating this curriculum into the academic work of our students builds their social emotional learning and enriches their academic achievements by linking cognitive, social, and emotional processes.
VERBAL BEHAVIOR CLASSROOMS:
These classrooms are for students with a 254 or 255 matrix number unless given special consideration from our clinical director. These classrooms have either a 4:1 or 5:1 student teacher ratio.
What is a verbal behavior classroom?
A verbal behavior classroom is centered on increasing communication and language. These classrooms create as many opportunities for language across the school day while focusing on what is motivating and meaningful for students. Talking, signing, picture systems, and other augmentative communication systems are all forms of verbal behavior. Verbal behavior programs use a behavioral classification system for language that identifies functional units of language and teaches children to use words according to their meaning; in other words to ask for something/make requests (mands), to label items (tacts), to repeat what has been said (echoic/vocal imitation), listener responding (receptive language) and to answer questions and have conversations (intraverbals). In a verbal behavior program, the mand repertoire is taught early on in programming by using words/items that are highly motivating to the child as the targets. The curriculum used in these classrooms is based on the manual “Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) By Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D., and The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning (ABLLS) By Mark Sundburg and James Partington.” These assessments are based on B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior, developmental milestones and field-test data from typically developing children, children with autism and children with other developmental disabilities.
In addition to academics and communication, these classrooms also focus on teaching children about social situations and expectations. Children will learn about various topics, such as going to a restaurant or getting a haircut. Because social situations can be difficult for our students, we need to help them understand what happens and prepare them ahead of time. We encourage parents to read our social stories at home and practice these skills in the natural environment. Parents may also contact the school for additional support of our ABA therapists attending community outings with their child.
What are the key components of these classrooms?
- Preference assessments and motivation-based teaching are at the core of all instruction for students as individuals
- Classroom environment with minimum distraction, use of visual supports and highly structured learning zones
- Intensive teaching using evidence-based intervention procedures derived from behavior analysis
- Teachers who are skilled in the use of basic principles of applied behavior analysis; prompting, fading, shaping differential reinforcement, etc.
- A behavioral language intervention program (i.e., mand training, tact and listener training, echoic and imitation training) as primary focus for these students
- Staff who are skilled in the use of procedures for teaching verbal behavior, reducing behavior problems, addressing barriers to learning, pairing with reinforcement, etc.
- Focus on teaching individual and choral responding
- Teaching life skills with a focus on independence and self care
COLLABORATION WITH OTHER THERAPIES:
ABA therapy services may be provided to our students at an additional cost to parents but must be provided under the direction of our clinical director and with our therapists. Our one-to-one ABA therapy services may be provided in the school, in your home or in both settings. Speech and occupational therapies are not offered through the school. However permission can be given to outside therapists to use our therapy rooms during the school day. If you are interested in having an outside therapist work with your child in the school, please speak with Anne Katz or Shelly Swift to make arrangements.
ONE-TO-ONE INTENSIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT:
For students who perform best in a one-to-one setting, we offer private individualized curriculum and a shorter school day. These students work intensively with an ABA therapist and may be incorporated into groups for times they enjoy or can be successful.