At the Northern California Preparatory School, we are aware of the Executive Functioning Deficits that an Asperger or student on the Autism Spectrum faces on a daily basis. As educators, primarily our goal is to promote academic success; however, we recognize that the deficits in the ASD and Autism Spectrum population can and will negatively impact academic success if not addressed. Therefore our program integrates concrete learning theory and positive social interactions to promote social and academic success.
Positive School Environment
The NCPS program provides structure, consistency and an emphasis on appropriate student behaviors; all of which have proven successful with our student population. All subjects are taught using visual modalities which stimulate higher level thinking. Students are taught note taking skills, and provided teacher notes at the end of each class. The smaller classroom sizes help to reduce sensory overload and enhance social participation. Having both a teacher and aide per classroom minimizes behavioral frustrations and maximizes academic assistance. A concrete and consistent behavior program teaches and enhances socially appropriate behaviors. Student expectations are very clear and precise. All staff model socially appropriate behaviors and encourage social development skills for our students. Students are accepted for being unique individuals and “bullying” will not be tolerated on the NCPS campus.
Social Development Skills
The NCPS school program provides opportunities for students to improve their social interactions by providing a safe and nurturing environment to practice social skills with familiar, trustworthy individuals. Teachers and staff supervise social interactions to ensure appropriate content and behavior is maintained at all times. Within the structured and quiet classroom setting, students find it “safe” to interact and participate in classroom discussions. Encouraging students to interact within a small group setting allows students the opportunity to experience success with social interactions while enhancing self-esteem. During unstructured activities, NCPS utilizes supervised activities with a repetitive nature which encourages social development and provides opportunities for social interactions.
Additionally, a Social Skills Group is provided one time per week for Asperger and Spectrum students to socialize with “like peers” and discuss common difficulties with social interactions. The peers, along with the BCBA, are then able to problem solve appropriate responses to each issue and situation. This is also a time when common “rules” of social interactions can be discussed and reiterated to reinforce learning and thereby increase each student’s success at positive social interactions.
Concrete Behavioral Program
NCPS recognizes the need to improve unique, individual behaviors to more “socially appropriate” behaviors. Therefore, NCPS has instituted an effective behavioral program which nurtures the individual by modeling and teaching positive interactions, communication, and problem solving skills within the framework of consistent, concrete rules and expectations.
The NCPS behavioral program has integrated specific “supports” to address the needs of our Asperger and Autism Spectrum students to encourage positive behavioral growth. All points and privileges are earned without the threat of being removed at any time. All staff interactions are discussed within a positive or neutral manner. Resolution is the key to success within our behavioral program. Students must understand the need for their behavioral intervention and then be willing to make the adjustment. Through consistent interventions, students are able to understand and generalize their behaviors to more socially appropriate and acceptable behaviors.