October 14, 2016

The Roadmap to Independence: Early Childhood Special Education

This month we’ll continue to explore the supports and services available throughout the Roadmap to Independence as we transition from Early Intervention to Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). Transitioning out of early intervention and into the next phase of the roadmap is an important time for families. As the child grows, the child’s world also grows to include other environments and other children. During ECSE, the focus will be on building on those foundational skills that were targeted in early intervention. It will continue to focus on social communication and behavior, but will expand to include communicating and playing with other children, learning school routines, improving sequencing and fine motors skills, and will also include skills like recognizing colors, shapes, and numbers. It’s important to note that in Virginia there is some overlap with ages when it comes to early intervention and early childhood services as a child aged 2-3 may be eligible for early intervention or may be eligible for Early Childhood Special Education. It is important to talk with your Early Intervention providers and/or school division personnel to see what options you have and what will best meet your child’s needs.

Did you know???

Young learners with ASD often require specific strategies and supports to help them reach their potential. At VCU-ACE, we believe everyone has a role to play in helping young children succeed – and that includes administrators, teachers, related service providers such as speech and language therapists or occupational therapists, and especially parents and caregivers! Because quality early childhood experiences are so critical for young children with ASD, a collaboration between the VDOE and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence (VCU-ACE) has been developed to help educators identify and determine what strategies and practices to incorporate, when to use them, and in what sequence. This comprehensive professional development pilot project is titled Preparing for Academic and Social Success, or Project PASS.

Straight from the Classroom

Stefanie Paul, an embedded coach and VCU-ACE Technical and Training Associate has spent the last year assisting ECSE educators in Project PASS as they develop goals and work towards implementation. This includes working with team members to systematically layer in evidence-based strategies in the classroom. Here is what Stefanie had to say about the Project PASS: “Early childhood is such a critical learning time for children. Working in collaboration with families and professionals, that are part of early childhood teams, has been extremely rewarding! Being able to facilitate this model of professional development has demonstrated positive growth in both professional practice and student outcomes.”

Kerry Grissom, one of the teachers involved in Project PASS, added:

“Over the past two years I have received training through Project Pass. This training has given me a strong foundation and awareness of strategies that promote language, social skills and positive behaviors in children who have autism spectrum disorder. I am excited to share this knowledge with teachers in my school division. This year I will assist other ECSE teachers in their classrooms as a job coach. Together we will develop goals, implement EBP's, and integrate strategies that will increase student outcomes for the school year.”

Want to learn more?

For more in-depth information about The Roadmap to Independence, including early intervention, sign up for the Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder or The Parent Playbook courses! You can register here: https://vcuautismcenter.org/te/courses/

For more information about early childhood instruction, check out the archived webcast with Stefanie Paul, Pre-K is more than play: Incorporating social skills training for preschoolers with ASD and severe learning needs here: https://vcuautismcenter.org/te/webcasts/details.cfm?webcastID=330

Don't forget!!!

This month’s live webcast on October 11th is Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Assessing Needs and Aligning Supports for Students with Marie Ireland, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, BCS-CL. This webcast will provide an overview of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for parents and educators who support students with complex communication needs. An overview of AAC data, tools and supports for educators and families will be provided. Examples of AAC assessment considerations, resources, and strategies for treatment will be shared.

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