November 7, 2016

The Roadmap to Independence: Kindergarten

This month we’ll continue to explore the supports and services available throughout the Roadmap to Independence as we transition from Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) to Kindergarten. Transitioning out of ECSE and into the next phase of the roadmap is a big step for children, their parents, and their teachers!

Kindergarten represents the beginning of a student’s academic career. Services will focus on expanding the social communication skills used to interact with peers, as well as helping the child understand more complex school routines and learn executive functioning skills needed to plan, organize, and be independent. Of course, with kindergarten, the focus will also include academic skills!

Did you know?

As young students learn to navigate a full day of school and develop a range of new skills, it may be necessary to utilize visual supports. Visual supports help a student to understand what to do in a variety of different environments and situations. Because visual supports make information concrete, they help a student with ASD feel safe, calm, in control, and prepared. These supports help ALL students, but are especially helpful for our youngest students!

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 staff and parents to help students transition into Kindergarten. Stefanie added, “Project PASS is an early childhood comprehensive treatment model that focuses on improving preschool student skills in areas of pre-academics, communication, social skills, independence and functional skills so that preschoolers will be ready and, hopefully, successful for the kindergarten year. In addition, the model focuses on professional development for the child's educational team in order to share what is working for that particular student. Incorporating a family-centered approach and communication, or sharing of information with the upcoming kindergarten teacher, are a few areas targeted during the professional development sessions.”

Once children have either transitioned to kindergarten or are starting school for the first time, there are many ways to support these students. Mary McCoy, a teacher from Newport News who has taught kindergarten students, also added, “To help these children perform at their very best it is important I maintain structure throughout the day. I am very protective of my daily schedule for my class. If there are any changes to our schedule I start to talk about it to my class as soon as possible in order to give them time to prepare for something different. I give them plenty of notice and remind them often there will be a change. Social cues and interaction are specifically taught to all students, regardless, mainly during my morning meetings. We model this often so all of the children in my class understand. This way no one is specifically pointed out and we all learn appropriate social behaviors.”

What 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:

For more information on visual supports, check out these resources:

Ask the Expert: Visual Supports

How To: Visual Supports

Don't forget!!

This month’s live webcast on November 8th is 7 Questions by David Pitonyak, Ph.D. Dr. Pitonyak has consulted with families and professionals throughout the United States, Canada, England, the Republic of Ireland, and the Netherlands. Tune in to watch Dr. Pitonyak discuss the following questions in developing a positive support plan:

  1. How can we help the person to broaden and expand his/her relationships?
  2. How can we help the person to achieve a sense of health and well-being?
  3. How can we help the person to find joy in ordinary and everyday places?
  4. How can we help the person to have more power and control in his/her life?
  5. How can we help the person to make a contribution to others?
  6. How can we help the person to learn valued skills?
  7. How can we better support the person's supporters?

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