Monday, April 02, 2012

Celebrating programs for autistic students

In honor of Autism Day, April 2, 2012, I would like to take the time to let you know about a few programs that are in place to help autistic students at BPS.

The STRIVE program (Supported Training to Reach Independence through Vocational Experiences) provides vocational and transitional services to students with disabilities. There has been great success with this program. At the Jim Roche Community Skating Rink in West Roxbury, autistic students who are part of the STRIVE program intern early in the morning and help staff clean and set up the rink.

Gregg Burgess, a staff member of the Roche Rink says, “All the students come in with a different level of skill set, and it's great to see how versatile and independent they become over time.”

The manager of the Roche Rink, Dennis Caulfield, says that he is grateful for the program because not only is it valuable to the student, but to the rink. The kids have helped to lift the spirits of the staff, and they have become somewhat of a small family.

Benjamin McDonald, one of student interns says with a smile, ”I like it here.”

Another valuable program for autistic students is the iPad project. The Office of Instructional and Information Technology partnered with the Office of Special Education and Student Services on an iPad initiative for special education teachers and students with autism.

Andrew Bott, principal of Orchard Gardens K-8 school, says the program has been very beneficial. He talks about a student named Xavier who had some challenges prior to the iPad program. “It was very difficult to get him to sit at the table and attend to a tabletop task without physically keeping him in the chair. It is also sometimes a challenge to get him to attend to materials.” After the iPad/iTouch program, Xavier can now navigate through most applications with ease. “ Xavier will now sit and attend to the iPad/iTouch app independently for up to 10 minutes!” says Bott. Xavier has also learned a lot of languages from this type of technology - alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, object identification. This program has highly motivated students to learn and Andrew Bott is so happy for that.

To learn more about the above programs, contact the Communications Department:

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