The RISE (Reaching Independence through Structured Education) program is designed with a focus on the intensive programming and supports that are needed for students exhibiting deficits in the areas of communication and emotional regulation, often stemming from their challenges as a student on the autism spectrum. Additional programmatic targets are social relationships, social cognition, academics, and de-escalation strategies. Because of the intensity of the supports given, the classroom size is smaller (approximately 8 students) with a lower staff to student ratio. Direct instruction in the areas of social skills and communication will be daily components of the program, often co-taught by the classroom teacher and speech-language pathologist or social worker. Access to the general education and core curriculum is also embedded in the structure of the day, per the recommendations as found in each student’s IEP. For students who need a more intensive instructional approach, modified and alternate curriculum options are available. All curriculum parallels what is taught in the general education classes and is aligned with state standards.
In addition to the focus on communicative and emotional functioning as it relates to educational success, students also are afforded a full complement of related services. These services can include counseling from either a school social worker or psychologist, occupational therapy, speech therapy and/or physical therapy. The specific related services for individual students are outlined in their IEPs.
The support from the services of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will also be embedded in the program to address individual, group, and classroom dynamics.
Students in the RISE program are unique individuals with challenges that are specific to their learning profile. However, students typically have had difficulty in the following areas:
- Independent functioning
These challenges have resulted in the need for specialized instruction in a setting outside of the general education classroom.
The delivery of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) is not only a legal mandate but a program goal. However, the environment that proves to be least restrictive as well as appropriate to meet the students’ unique needs is a team decision and is as individual as the students themselves. General education placement decisions should be made with the student in mind, specifically with regard to gaining meaningful educational benefit and participating in the classroom environment in a meaningful way.
As students improve upon their skills in communication and regulating their emotional and behavioral challenges, staff will support them toward an increased level of general education participation. The ultimate goal is for students to return to their general education class utilizing strategies they have learned and incorporated as established skills.