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Autism: Characteristics By Age
About Achievements Groups:
Various program elements are combined in different ways to achieve maximum therapeutic benefit for the wide range of children seen in the Achievements Program. Children will participate in a brief screening process to determine the most appropriate group placement, and will be matched with other children of similar developmental profiles in the group that best meets their individual needs.
The different types of groups in the Achievements Program are differentiated based upon:
- Staffing Ratio: In each group with two adult staff members, there may be between three to five children with ASD, along with at least one typically developing peer model, participating in all or part of the group. This varies depending on the children's independence with learning readiness skills, as well as the amount of attention and adult facilitation required to optimally target speech, language, social-communicative and cognitive goals.
- Degree of Structure: Some Achievements Groups are more structured, with a high level of repetition and routine, in order to support children who learn best under those circumstances. Other groups promote more flexibility and variety of activities and concepts. The level of structure and repetition is based on the individual needs of the children in that group and may change throughout the year as appropriate.
- Duration: Achievements Groups include three days of group speech-language therapy, and one additional session per week that is either an individual or dyad (two children) based on the needs of the child. Group sessions may last between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, depending on a variety of factors, such as children's school schedules and our efforts to maximize the intensity of intervention within the parameters of each child's attention system.
Prerequisite skills for some groups begin with the ability to use basic gestures for communication and engage briefly with adults, and may extend to the use of conversational turn-taking and initiation of peer interaction for others. Listed below are just a few of the skills that may be targeted during groups:
- Peer Interaction
- Play skills (functional, multi-step play, parallel, cooperative and pretend play, games with rules)
- Learning readiness skills (sitting, attending, following directions, etc.)
- Expanding communication functions (greetings, requesting, commenting, asking questions, requesting assistance, etc.) and means (sign, picture exchange, verbalization, etc.)
- Social/pragmatic skills (eye contact, gaining attention, appropriate protesting, etc.)
- Receptive and expressive language skills
- Initiating and maintaining conversation with adults and peers
- Persistence with communication/ repair strategies
Additional Program Elements:
- Occupational Therapy: Achievements recognizes the importance of a team-oriented and whole systems approach to the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders. To this end, co-treatment with an occupational therapist is available in the form of sensory readiness groups taking place before Achievements and in-group consultation, depending on the needs and scheduling of the group.
- Typical Peer Models: Achievements is excited to offer a preschool classroom for typically developing children, who are integrated in all Achievements groups as playmates and peer models. This program provides the typically developing children access to high-quality, language-rich preschool classrooms and teaches them about diversity and empathy at an early age, while exposing children on the autism spectrum to natural and age-appropriate play, language and social skills.
Carrie Roylance, MS, CCC- SLP
Catherine Walton, MEd, SLP-A
Meagan Corless, MS, CCC-SLP
Tamra Bell, MA, CCC-SLP
Elizabeth Finney, MA, CCC-SLP