The delivery of appropriate programming for children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is a team responsibility. Most children with autism require intervention in more than one educational domain: communication, behavior, social / emotional, life skills, and academic. As a result, the Autistic Support Program is eclectic. No one particular methodology is endorsed, but staff receive training via professional development and initiatives via PDE.
Many children can be well supported in their home school district, utilizing home school district services and accessing the general education curriculum. These students may be served through inclusion support, speech / language, emotional support autistic support or learning support options. Other children need more intensive services and require a replacement program utilizing a combination of the general education curriculum and replacement curriculum. If a child needs more intensive services than the home school district can provide, the district may approach Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV about a placement in a MIU IV operated Autistic Support Class.
At the elementary level, the communication domain is generally prioritized. As a child’s communication skills improve, their capacity for improving social, behavioral, and academic skills improve as a result. Some children begin school aged programming with a well developed capacity to learn academic skills. Other children need help to resolve behavioral and communication deficits before academic instruction becomes a priority. In the secondary Autistic Support classroom, the focus is on developing communication, social, behavior, and life skills necessary for adulthood. Transition planning begins in earnest, and instructional activities focus on the student’s needs as an adult. Academic instruction continues, but from the perspective of needed skills in adulthood. Inclusion in the community is emphasized, and community based instruction increases in intensity and frequency.