A Little About Me...
I have served as the classroom teacher in the Autism Transitional Classroom (ATC) for the past six years. I obtained a B.A. in Linguistics and Psychology and a B.Ed. from the University of Ottawa. I have also completed the Specialist in Special Education AQ course. Prior to entering the classroom, I was a Senior Therapist in the provincial IBI as well as in a private treatment centre for 7 years. I have also taught courses in the Autism and Behavioural Sciences Program at Lambton College.
About My Classroom
First of all, my classroom has a fancy name! It’s called the Autism Transitional Classroom, or ATC for short. Hence the name of my blog, “Adventures in the ATC”! The classroom is a section 23 Treatment classroom and is run in partnership by the St. Clair Catholic District School Board and Chatham Kent Children’s Services. The ATC was designed to provide specialized, short- term placements for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who are either entering school for the first time, or have not been successful in the regular classroom setting. The focus of the classroom is to teach students the skills they need to be successful in inclusive classroom settings and train their teachers and Educational Assistants on how to teach them using evidence-based practices such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Structured Learning (SLE). Since it is a treatment classroom, we are supervised by a psychologist who oversees the treatment plans, but unlike most treatment classrooms, the ATC is located in a school and not a treatment facility. Being located in a school allows us to effectively work on social skills and prepare our students for the transition into inclusive classroom settings.
The ATC serves both local school boards in our area and has space for up to five students with one crisis spot. The day to day staff include myself as the classroom teacher, an EA, and a Developmental Support Worker. We also work with a number of paraprofessionals including Child and Family Consultants, SLPs, OTs, PTs, ABA Support Specialists, and a psychologist who oversees the treatment programming. The average length of stay in our classroom ranges six months up to three years, depending on the student’s needs. Most of the students in the classroom cannot access the Ontario currciulum due to their learning needs, so IEP goals are based on the Hawaii Early Learning Profile, or HELP for short. (I will be writing a separate post on using the HELP in the coming weeks). The student’s each have their own individual schedule for the day based on their IEP goals and include skills in the areas of cognitive, language, fine and gross motor, social and self-help.
The transition process for our students begins as soon as they enter the classroom. Their home school is identified and we begin teaching skills that will allow them to be successful in an inclusive classroom setting. When a student is ready to transition out of our classroom, their teachers and EAs come for training. The EAs come daily for about two months of training, where they learn about the student’s unique learning needs, how to manage behaviours, increase independence, and how to teach them new skills using ABA teaching methods. The training model we use incorporates observation, implementing programming with coaching and implementing programming independently. The principal, classroom teacher, and Program Resource Teacher (PRT) come for about 2-3 days to observe, learn about SLE, and how to use the HELP to write IEP goals.
During the transition process, meetings are frequently held with the parents, home school team, and ABA Support Specialists. The ABA Support Specialists play a key role in these transitions, acting as a liaison between our classroom and the home school team. They are the key contacts during the transition process and support the students and home school team once the student has transitioned back to their home school. As such, they come to the classroom to observe and work with the student, assist with planning meetings, and set up the environment at the home school before the student returns.