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Anderson Elementary Wing Dedicated to Needs of Students with Aut - KOAM TV 7

Anderson Elementary Wing Dedicated to Needs of Students with Autism

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ANDERSON, MISSOURI -


     Most school districts have special education classrooms.
     But in McDonald County, the district did research and even hired a consultant to create a program for students who have a diagnosis anywhere on the autism spectrum and beyond.

 A fourth grader gets one on one therapy in what looks like a private center for autism. But, it
s a public school classroom at Anderson elementary. A wing of the building, vacated when sixth graders moved to the middle school allowed for special modifications like filtering lighting and undecorated walls.
Program director and special education teacher Peter Alumbaugh explained, "With some students we need to think about the colors of our room so we aren
t, um, hanging things that distract our students. Keeping things warm and calm  but in an environment free of those distractions that you might  find in  other rooms."

While students
diagnoses here fall in different places on the autism spectrum, the district doesnt want it to be limited. They call it BCSS for behavior, communication and social skills.
 

The districts director of Student Services Adam Lett said, "Students having non-verbal communication issues or needing social skill prompting will have a place in order to learn  those skills and strategies and be successful."

A separate activity room is where students get the chance to practice life skills with everything from a restaurant style trash can to a cafeteria table with the goal being integrated to the classroom and to the community.
Alumbaugh said, "The ultimate goal is an integrated lunch so that they are with their peers in regular education classroom  as well as giving them the tools they need to communicate with their teachers."


Its all about inclusion. They started the year with integrated recess.
The district hired one paraprofessional for every two students. The program is small now at six students but could grow later.
Grant money helped buy sound proofing portable walls to create calming stations, gaming chairs that rock and weighted blankets.
Once they learn what triggers a student
s sensory overload, they can find tools to help them survive the regular classroom.

Lett said, "We want to make this program very prescriptive for the student. That
s our district motto: Every child, every day, whatever it takes."

 The school has multiple other special education classrooms for students with other needs.  
This program is paid for with federal IDEA funds, grants and a number of private donations.


 

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