The classroom needs of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis may be very different. To promote successful learning, engagement, and achievement of their highest potential, Pediatrics Plus Developmental Preschool has designed and implemented special classrooms aimed at meeting those needs. The classroom, one in Conway and one in Little Rock, is designed to provide children and families a foundation to begin remediating the core deficits of ASD. Facilitated by a team of teachers and therapists, the children engage in a preschool classroom that addresses dynamic intelligence, functional play, and improved social engagement. This classroom empowers families through the support and tools provided in order to create a successful home environment for all members of the family. Through a collaborative approach with professionals and families, our goal is to assist these children to reach developmentally appropriate milestones and ultimately thrive within an integrated classroom setting. This goal is attained through careful selection and execution of necessary components for success: classroom structure, ratio, parent involvement, staff, curriculum, and training experience.
Success is promoted through a classroom structure that emphasizes small group instruction for increased learning, large group instruction to mimic a typical classroom setting, and visual schedules and transitional cues for added support. Fifty percent of the day, the ratio in the classroom is three teachers for eight students. For the other half of the day, a three teacher and two therapist for eight children is maintained. This ratio promotes success through the ability to provide more specific and tailored attention to each student. Enhanced parent involvement is a vital component for success in the ASD classroom. The parents are empowered to carry over efficacious supports in the home to collaboratively promote goal attainment. The parents of children in this classroom are required to sign a commitment upon classroom enrollment agreeing to utilize a daily communication notebook, monthly individual meetings with the classroom staff, and 4-6 group parent trainings per year. The staff are specific to this classroom and includes three early childhood developmental technicians and an overseeing therapist. The therapists that see the children for therapeutic needs are also specific to that classroom to promote consistency and limit flux of classroom personnel. The curriculum in the classroom is focused on function and learning. Currently, the classroom practices "Adventures in Learning" and "Handwriting Without Tears". The ASD classroom incorporates principles and valuable supports from a variety of programs including Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Therapeutic Listening, Integrated Listening System, Picture Exchange Communication (PECS), and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Through this holistic approach, individualized plans and supports can be woven into the classroom setting to best meet the needs of each child.
As a company whose mission is to strive for excellence by providing quality services for families and children with diverse abilities in a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment, it was essential that Pediatrics Plus realize that mission by creating an environment to best serve children and families of children with ASD. As a company whose vision is to stand-out as the leader in our profession and positively impact our community by setting the standard of care we provide to our children and families above and beyond what is expected, it will be critical that we continue to explore and formally investigate the efficacy of this program. We will strive to lay a strong foundation for these children in hopes that on that foundation they will build amazing and full lives.