About Achievements Groups:
Achievements Groups are supervised by a certified speech-language pathologist and therapeutic assistant. Student-to-leader ratios are low and parent involvement is encouraged. In this setting, the program provides an enriching environment for social discovery through language mastery. Children are active participants in theme-based learning activities that provide a motivating context for targeting individualized goals and general language, social and cognitive skills. Children immediately apply what they are learning in multiple contexts.
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.
Groups in the Achievements Program are differentiated based upon:
- Staffing Ratio: In each group with two to three adult staff members, there may be between three to five children with ASD, along with a 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 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: Groups include three to four days of group speech-language therapy, and sessions may last between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, depending on a variety of factors, such as children's 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, voice output device, picture exchange, verbalization, etc.)
- Social/pragmatic skills (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: We recognize the importance of a team-oriented and holistic approach to treating children with autism spectrum disorders. That’s why we offer co-treatment with an occupational therapist who joins the group once a week to address areas such as sensory processing, self-care, and fine and gross motor skills in the context of the group’s daily routines and activities.
- Neurotypical Peers: Some Achievements participants may also have opportunities to interact with 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.