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Stepping Stones Review

Stepping Stones 3-5 Autism Classroom Open House

Bend EI/ECSE at Alice Hatch Center
By Kathy Harris

People *Interviewed/Staff Involved

*Kathryn Emerson (EI/ECSE Regional Director)

*Tracy Kennedy (Stepping Stones Lead Teacher/Program Director autism classroom 3-5)

*Kathryn Procter (autism specialist)

Paul Andrews (autism specialist)

Linda Sweetlund (may be mispelled)(autism specialist)

Paula Day (ECSE Director)

Why does this program seem to work for both parents and staff:

Parents and EI Teachers/Autism Specialists together created a classroom for children with autism 3-5

2 staff members (Teacher Tracy was one) went to a week long training at Rock Creek for info, practice, and techniques on Discrete Trial and PRT Lead teacher and staff welcome parents during the school day. Will video child at parents request.

It appeared to me that video taping might be a standard tool for quality control in addition to the Autism Specialists and Lead Teacher doing on-the-spot-training

Monthly 1/2 hour to 1 hour meetings with individual parents to discuss program progress

Use of PRT, Discrete Trial (DT), and Structured Teaching (schedule, PECs if needed, work area)

Child has to work for EVERYTHING, nothing is free, even during snack/lunch, child must work

Parents appear to be pleased with the class (even before the classroom started, I had received word that Alice Hatch in general is easy to work with and listens to parents)

Good, consistent hours (8:30am-2pm) Monday thru Friday, that's 27.5 hours a week!

Lead Teacher says that until the children with autism were given one-on-one in their own class setting, they did not seem to progress as well. Now with the program set up and after watching/tracking the children's progress with happy parents, the Lead Teacher admits that things are far less stressful.

One-on-one time is approximately 25 hours. Only two 15 minute breaks for snack and lunch with less than one to one ratio. This is when teachers take their breaks. Children do not take naps.

There is a great amount of data taken via trial datasheets and program tracking sheets.

Aide/Teacher works with child in a cubicle -> Takes data on pre-filled data sheet(where items to be worked on for the day is filled in on the sheet) -> Lead Teacher transfers data to individual's notebook and figures percentages

Lead Teacher (Tracy), Autism Specialists, and Aides are obviously competent, extremely knowledgeable, caring, and dedicated individuals. Proper training and quality control has been shown throughout their program via Rock Creek Training, outside consulting by Lauren Loos herself (at first once a month then every few months), and the use of on the spot training and video taping. ECSE/Regional Directors have also been key in finding funding and allowing for training.

Video from current children in therapy were shown at the open house. Staff included aides. Staff appeared very competent, positive, and correctly reinforced the children.

A large schedule near the entryway shows a matrix of the teacher names, the students, and the activity (ie PRT, DT, Structured Teaching Workstation, lunch, snack, etc) for each approximately 30 minute section of the day. This is helpful for teachers and parents to know exactly who will be working with the child and what program will be done during the time. Teacher names moved around if there were substitutions or changes.

Additional children in the program require hiring additional teachers. It is a one-to-one program.

Suggestions for Benton EI/ESCE and Cascade Regional Staff:

Observe the classroom if at all possible to find out about their pilot project. If observation is not possible, ask for an open house. Staff involved are listed above and appeared very open to speaking to EI/ECSE and Cascade Regional Staff.

The classroom setup:

2 small rooms for PRT, 2 small rooms for Discrete Trial, and one small room for Structured Teaching