SDCA Student Transfers From The Villa To Public School

Children with autism experience and interact with the world in unique ways. Sometimes, they display maladaptive behaviors because of communication challenges, social skills deficits, and other related issues. The Sarah Dooley Center for Autism (SDCA) specializes in supporting children with autism. We use applied behavior analysis (ABA) to target and lessen maladaptive behaviors and to improve a child’s independence.

One of our students recently transferred from the Villa to his neighborhood public school. Read on to learn more about our program and the ways we support your child with autism.

SDCA Support a Child’s Right for Public Education

All eligible children, including children with autism and other disabilities, have the right to receive a free and appropriate education in an environment that’s the least restrictive. Because of these rights provided in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), your child is entitled to receive a tailored education that supports educational progress and school placement that meets his/her unique special needs.

Generally, the least restrictive environment (LRE) gives children with special needs the opportunity to attend school and interact with children who do not have disabilities. This right also allows your child to participate in general education classes, also known as mainstreaming or inclusion.

The most supportive educational environment for your child may be a public school with or without accommodations such as a one-on-one aid, visual cues, or extra test time. Sometimes, children with autism need additional support, including full-day autism support or an emotional support classroom program, home instruction program, or school for children with special needs like SDCA. 

Our goal at SDCA is for your child with autism to realize the level of independence that he/she is capable of achieving and transfer to a public school.

Children With Autism Receive Beneficial Services at SDCA

We support your child’s academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs in ways that help him/her learn, grow, and function more independently both in school and in everyday life. 

Consider the services we offer that support your child’s current needs, encourage growth, and pave the way to transfer to public school.

Educational Support

We identify your child’s strengths, interests, and requirements as we write the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and customize his/her educational program. 

Our curriculum tools address your child’s needs and focus on maximizing your child’s ability to function independently. Your child will learn basic skills before complex skills, engage in interesting activities, and practice beneficial routines at school, at home, and in the community.

Behavior Support

Children with autism adopt maladaptive behaviors to manage daily life. Our staff and teachers understand autism and prevalent behaviors, and we create a structured environment with personalized supports and positive reinforcement strategies. Our goal is to replace your child’s maladaptive behaviors with functional skills. 

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst supervises all behavior planning, and we carefully monitor data and adjust supports based on your child’s growth and changing needs.

Communication Support

Many of the behavior challenges children with autism experience are rooted in communication challenges. 

A speech-language pathologist, teachers, therapists, and counselors work together with your child to improve his/her functional communication. We offer speech support in natural learning environments, including the classroom and social setting, where we model the proper use of language and encourage your child to develop appropriate and functional communication skills and abilities. 

With communication support, your child learns to express his/her needs and wants, participates in social interactions, and may experience a decrease in problematic behaviors that stem from communication deficits.

Social Support

To function and participate in their communities, children with autism often need to acquire social skills. 

We promote empathy, understanding, and relationships throughout the day in the classroom and during leisure activities. Your child will also experience dozens of community outings to stores, parks, recreational sports, and museums where he/she learns to navigate social situations with confidence.

SDCA Uses Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) guides our behavioral programming and forms the foundation for all of our services. 

ABA is proven to address the behavioral and educational challenges that children with autism face. With ABA, we can use evidence-based teaching strategies as we provide your child with individualized education and behavioral programming.

Each of our teachers and staff members is trained in ABA methodology. We perform functional behavior assessments, collect data continuously, and use discrete trial training (DTT), natural environment training (NET), errorless learning, prompting, cueing, access to preferred items, and other positive attention for appropriate behaviors.

ABA is prioritized in every classroom, social, and leisure environment. Our staff works hard to build relationships and develop trust with your child. It’s through trust that children come to understand that the adults in their lives are invested in them, which is a precursor for behavior changes.

SDCA Provides Teacher, Parent, and Caregiver Training

Parent and caregiver training has always been an important aspect of our program. Children with autism value consistency and repetition. By creating familiar and supportive environments at school, at home, and in the community, we improve your child’s ability to realize lasting behavior changes.

We also train public school teachers. We work with local school districts to equip teachers with the tools they need to provide an education to children with autism. This training supports your child’s ability to transfer successfully from SDCA to a public school where they can receive support, services, and assistance on their journey to independence.

Children with autism receive a personalized education with ABA at SDCA and could transfer from the Villa to a neighborhood public school. 

We are partnering with the state of Virginia to lead the way in autism education and provide an environment specifically designed to promote the best practices in therapy and research. In addition to professional training, we teach autism-specific classroom methods that public schools can replicate if/when our students transfer. Contact us to learn more about our school and the new autism center opening in 2021.

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