I always describe room 15 as unique, & a rare public school program for children with Autism. We are a small self contained class in a public school setting where typical RSP or SDClasses are often fragmented because the children are pulled out for IEP services which results in many transitions and missed classroom activities. In room 15, all services are pushed in and then integrated into the academics. A close collaborative team of highly qualified adults plan and bring together services most children are pulled out of class to receive. The classroom environment is unique and another blog topic.
I have learned that all children learn best when there is a balance between the academics, social emotional learning, mindfulness & body awareness. These components are also integrated through out the day in one classroom. This balance assists children learn HOW to understand & manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, make responsible choices & access the academics. This involves a responsive and caring classroom environment that promotes self awareness & regulation, attention, reduces anxiety and allows for mistakes and refection.
The general ed classes are large, the pace fast and individual attention rare. Even with the best most knowledgable teacher, children who struggle learning the academics also struggle socially, emotionally & can display behaviors or are so checked out that they are unable to access the lessons so carefully crafted for the 30+ children. Too often the busy teacher simply cannot address the many social emotional needs of a child. The children are expected to learn the social skills expected and to self regulate on their own. Children with Autism need direct instruction, time, practice and support for this to occur.
In room 15, the children develop lasting friendships and parents a support network. Playdates are common, parent and teachers often work together. The adult student ration small. Transitions are reduced and the children develop positive relationships with the staff and each other. I consider our class a family and you will often hear me say that it sometimes feels like I am teaching siblings. The children typically stay with me 2-3 years depending on when they enroll. This looping of students is powerful for many reasons.
There is tremendous research and study in the importance of Social Emotional learning and I will continue to touch on this topic which make a positive impact on my students. For more information click on the graphic from CASEL below.
Training and Credentials