Please welcome guest author Scott Groza with a great list of evidence-based educational programs for students on the spectrum.
When a student has autism, it is important that educators and parents work hand in hand to provide the student with all of the tools necessary to learn and develop meeting their full potential. It can be easy to miss the mark when it comes to choosing and implementing the best educational program for the autistic student.
It is important to note that continuous advancement in technology has vastly augmented traditional educational intervention models for teaching students on the autism spectrum.
Studies completed by Indiana Institute on Disability and Community examined a variety of educational programs.
Here, divided by educational subject, are programs found to be effective.
Learning effective communication skills is the cornerstone of every student’s education. Because autism typically causes delays in the development of communication, early intervention in the form of individualized learning strategies should be a top priority for educators as well as parents.
• ASD Pre-Speaking Program: This program centers on activities which do not need speaking skills. Through visual communication, non-verbal students begin to get the skills needed for speaking.
• Earobics®: An educational software program, Earobics uses many sensory forms in an engaging game-like format.
A shared goal of educators and parents of autistic students should be the highest degree of independent function possible.
Regardless of the individual level of function, an educational commitment to helping each student master basic life skills are a crucial part of every curriculum.
• Enhance: Functional Life Skills: This program combines software, print, and hands-on materials creating a multi-faceted approach to life skills education. The program has six individual programs; each of these concentrates on a different life skill. The topics covered include personal self-care, cooking, living independently, discovering the community, personal success, and success in your community.
• Life Skills Curricula Series: This is a hands-on program designed for students in grade six and up. Students will participate in self-care, housekeeping, meal planning, shopping, and meal preparation.
Attaining good social skills is closely related to communication and life skills for autistic students. A program designed to develop social skills needs to be highly personalized as well as consistent.
For optimal life function, students must attain good social skills. Proper emphasis of this area as a part of the educational curriculum is important.
• Model Me Kids®: This program uses DVDs as well as worksheets, progress charts, at home reinforcement materials, and hands-on activities to reinforce the acceptable social behavior for a given situation.
• Do-Watch-Listen-Say: This learning resource combines assessment tools and educational activities to help students understand social interactions.
These skills are more than the ability to read and write. Literacy skills encompass the areas of oral communication, phonics, letter and word recognition, and vocabulary acquisition.
• Failure Free Reading™: This is a structured, multi-sensory program designed to build upon positive experiences and encourage literacy. The program adapts to all ages and skill levels allowing for individualized learning.
• Reading Horizons®: The Reading Horizons program focuses on teaching decoding skills and word sounds in a multi-sensory platform.
Because math skills are over-arching such a wide variety of skill subsets, individualization of math skill programs is vital to helping autistic students reach their potential.
Aside from basic math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; time, measurement, and mastery of money skills are all a part of the foundational level of math skills.
• Functional Math Package: A program that is adaptable for all grades and skill levels, the Functional Math Package guides students through several practical and applicable areas of math including telling time, money skills, scheduling, and organization.
• Pro-Ed, Inc.: This curriculum focuses on practical math skills for students of all ages. It includes an individualized section designed to help non-verbal students excel.
With so many educational programs available, each claiming to be the best, be sure to take your time choosing the program that will give your autistic students the support they need.
Scott Groza, the founder of the Groza Learning Center, is a well-respected educator with an extensive background in student-centered learning. He advocates the belief that students will thrive if taught in small groups by professionals who display a strong commitment to individual student needs