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Prompting students with autism, in and out of the classroom

Autism Immersed Podcast, Season 2, episode 2

On the 2nd episode of our 2nd season, Laura Davis enlightens us on the use of Speech & Language therapies in Socially Immersed classrooms, the importance of soft skills on day to day life, and how AAC devices and PECs should be treated as the student’s actual voice.

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Character Education and Leadership Development as tools for Immersion

Autism Immersed podcast, Season 1, Episode 4

On this episode we will be speaking with Ruth Friend about what role Student Leadership plays in our Social Immersion model. Character Education and leadership are necessary when modeling behavior in a proper inclusive environment. 

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Autism Immersed podcast, episode 3

Our third episode is an interview with Sean Pruitt, family counselor and a member of the psychology services team at Oakstone Academy. 

We will be discussing his journey, his work at the school, and his work with parents who have found successes through Oakstone’s Academic and Social Immersion Model which puts students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in typical classrooms with typically developing peers. 

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Autism Immersed podcast, episode 2

Our second episode is part 2 of an interview with Dr. Rebecca Morrison, the founder of Oakstone Academy in Westerville, OH. 

We will be discussing how the school started, its mission, and exploring their one of a kind “social immersion model” that puts students on the Autism spectrum in typical classrooms with typically developing peers. 

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INTERTWINED: How Therapies Work in an Academic and Social Immersion Model

Oakstone Academy and The Children’s Center for Developmental Enrichment (CCDE) offers a service delivery model that is unique in this inclusive school designed for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their peers.  Speech and Occupational Therapies are offered as classroom-based (push-in) and direct/private (pull-out). These types of service delivery models have been in existence in the schools, and though no single model is appropriate for all students, the ultimate goal is ensuring that the student’s needs are met in a variety of settings.   Service delivery models in the schools should be dynamic and fluid, allowing the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) to support the student by providing effective intervention in order to generalize skills.

Classroom-based service delivery allows the SLP to perform a variety of roles including working with the student individually, circulating around the room, or with small groups during an activity.  The natural environment provides an authentic setting tailored to the student’s needs. The classroom SLP can also provide “consultation” to the teachers in the use of strategies in the context of reading, writing, and speaking activities.  At Oakstone, the classroom SLP develops and writes measurable goals for the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  He/She may also administer testing to assess the student’s performance and/or skills for the Evaluation Team Report (ETR) to determine the student’s eligibility for special education services.  The SLP and classroom teacher work closely with the team (i.e., Occupational Therapist, Psych Services, administration) to create social narratives and visual supports and how to frame instruction for children with language impairments and provide positive behavioral support.  This partnership is critical to the classroom teacher and SLP as the student’s progress and changing needs evolve throughout the school year.

Direct/Private therapy or pull-out service delivery is provided in a separate room, which allows for individualized time with the student.  This type of intervention removes the child from the classroom curriculum for a specific amount of time.  Direct therapies are used for testing or screening; it may also be beneficial if the student has challenging behaviors and require a more restricted or quiet environment for learning or acquisition of skills.  SLP’s in this capacity determine each student’s goals and create treatment plans to target these goal areas. Often, therapists work closely with families by developing specific functional goals such as skills for daily living, self-help skills, or a visual schedule for routines at home.  While the classroom-based SLP provide support and strategies in the classroom, direct/private SLPs provide structured opportunities for increasing a particular skill or for teaching new behaviors. With fewer or less distractions, SLPs may take advantage of the space to create conversations and practice functional activities while working on specific language skills.  Direct/private therapy is ideal for practice drills and 1:1 instruction not necessarily possible in classroom-based services. While schools around the nation offer both direct and classroom-based therapies, the resources to implement pull-out therapy are becoming limited due to high SLP caseload and workload. As a result, students who need the individualized and focused therapy receive less therapy time.  Fortunately, Oakstone is able to provide and implement a combination of these models and the resources to sustain both therapies. Direct/Private therapy also allows for flexibility and creativity in creating small groups before/after school and during the school day (typically, at recess or lunch time). These groups are short, practical, and target specific goals for generalization. The benefit of direct/private therapy gives the parents or caregivers convenience in having the therapy before/after school or during the school day instead of traveling to another facility or private clinic for similar services.  Although some students receive additional therapies, this convenience is an attractive benefit to many families at Oakstone.

Collaboration, by definition, refers to working together to create a shared goal.  This unique alliance that happens between direct/private (pull-out) and classroom based (push-in) therapy not only benefits the student but ensures that his/her needs are met.  Combining these service delivery modes allows for a closer look on the educational relevance of Speech-Language services and the efficacy of treatment services in both the therapy room and the classroom.  Both capacities allow for expanded roles to address the needs of the student while affecting the student’s educational performance. Oakstone offers both types of therapies by fulfilling various roles to adopt a more comprehensive picture of speech services.  The weaving together of knowledge, expertise, experience, and passion of the SLPs and OTs at Oakstone can add power to the educational growth of the each student.

References

https://www.asha.org/slp/schools/school-based-service-delivery-in-speech-language-pathology/

https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/The-21st-Century-Speech-Language-Pathologist-and-Integrated-Services-in-Classrooms

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2396941516680369

https://www.asha.org/NJC/Types-of-Services/