Functional and Academic Curriculum

Our academic services revolve around the strengths, requirements, and interests of each student. Each student has a program tailored to meet his or her unique academic needs. Activities and materials are specially designed to meet children where they are and move them to where they need to be. The teachers at Sarah Dooley craft each and every activity–individual or small group–with the student’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) objectives and academic goals in mind.

Curriculum Tools

Students diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and related disorders usually demonstrate a wide-range of skills with an equally wide range of capability levels within and between abilities. To help meet the varied needs of our population, we rely on many different curricula and resources to provide appropriate instruction to our students. The main tools we use include:

Academic Applications & Activities

The combined curriculum used at Sarah Dooley focuses on maximizing independent functioning in home, school, vocational, and community settings. We know students diagnosed with autism have difficulty transferring and generalizing skills learned in the classroom. Our program places an emphasis on the maintenance and generalization of learned skills community environments.

Instructional activities are designed to:

  • Enhance response opportunities
  • Be appealing and interesting
  • Promote active engagement of the student
  • Focus on basic skills before more complex skills
  • Provide multiple opportunities for practicing skills identified on the IEP
  • Be (whenever possible) embedded within ongoing and natural routines of home, school, vocational, and community settings.

Real life teaching environments provide skills necessary for transitioning into adulthood with the greatest degree of independence.

Educational Analysis

Our staff is trained in applied behavior analysis (ABA) methodology including: discrete trial training (DTT), natural environment training (NET), errorless learning, prompting and cueing. We believe decisions about a student’s behavioral and educational programming should be driven by data. Therefore, data is collected and monitored on a continuous basis.

We also conduct twice weekly treatment planning sessions to track educational and behavioral progress.

We believe in having our students experience their community as much as possible. In addition to weekly visits to local stores, parks and museums to practice their skills we also have regular and seasonal outings to the zoo, bowling alley, state fair and pumpkin patch among others.

Let us know if you’ve got an event planned that our students would enjoy!

Recent News


COVID-19 Response Plan at SDCA

UPDATE (Monday, March 23): In compliance with Governor Northam's decision, Sarah Dooley Center for Autism will be closed for the remainder for the 2019-2020 school year. We will communicate more

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Speech Services For Children With Autism: 5 Strategies That Work

Speech therapy gives children with autism a voice and equips them to communicate their needs and wants to parents, caregivers, and teachers. Because of speech therapy for autism, children can

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parents role in the education of children with autism

Parent's Guide To Choosing A Specialty School For Autism

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each child has unique educational needs. While some children with autism thrive in a traditional public school, other children need the features and benefits

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