Common Threads Family Resource Center houses a unique school program that began in the fall of 2008. Our school’s primary focus is on the unique behavioral, communicative, emotional, sensory, and social challenges of students. Our program offers low student to instructor ratios, with instructors being well versed in diverse learning styles and techniques. We pride ourselves in organizing educational plans for each student using a strength based approach so that each individual within our program can experience success and become reintroduced to the joys of learning.
Our program is built upon evidence-based practices and is committed to the importance of these practices within our school program. We believe that evidence-based practices are in the best interests of the students we work with and find that these practices produce positive outcomes for each child. Although research findings are essential within evidence-based practices, we feel that other factors also play a critical role in defining these practices and techniques. These factors include:
- Professional judgment and data-based decision making
- Values and preferences of families, including the student whenever feasible
- Capacity to accurately implement interventions.
The program includes the following essential components.
- Functional Skills Development
- Community Instruction
- Social and Emotional Skills Development
- Sensory Integration
- Individualized Therapy
- Dance/Movement Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech and Language Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Art Therapy
Group and individualized learning opportunities are created so that each child’s academic treatment goals are met in terms of reading and comprehension, writing, spelling and mathematics. Additional academics focus on social studies, science, money identification and values, and time telling.
Functional Skills Development
Functional skills are defined as skills that can be used everyday, in different environments. Functional skills focus on areas such as the home (cooking, cleaning, etc), family, self-help skills (bathing, brushing teeth, dressing, grooming), employment, recreation, community involvement, health, and functional academics. We believe that all students within our program benefit from functional skills training.
Functional academics are also used within our program when children struggle with age and grade appropriate academics. Functional academics are defined as academic areas that will be used by the student for the rest of their life. For example: reading (reading signs; stop, go, men’s, women’s, reading a recipe); math (money, grocery shopping, making change, budgeting); health (grooming, oral hygiene, planning healthy meals).
When possible, children within our program engage in community instruction opportunities in which they work on skill development in “real life settings”, as well as generalizing skills taught within the academic portion of the day. Consistency within environments is worked into the group programming so that progress can be made by each child. Typically, community environments used within our program are: grocery stores, farmers markets, libraries, swimming pools, and community, cultural, and seasonal events.
Social Skills Development
Our program addresses social deficits. For children on the Autism Spectrum, a common misperception is that these children lack interest in relating to others. Kids with ASD do not choose to alienate themselves – they are simply missing skills. Some of the skills our program works on are:
- Opening and closing a conversation
- Initiating interaction and joining play
- Decoding facial expressions and body language
- Observing and mimicking appropriate social behavior in specific situations
- Predicting and understanding the emotions and reactions of others
Sensory processing is the taking in of information through our sensory receptors and processing this information through our nervous system. Functional sensory processing happens when our brain integrates and understands all of the sensory information provided by the senses. This includes the ability of the brain to make determinations of “relevant” vs. “non-relevant” inputs at any given time. When sensory processing breaks down, a child’s ability to understand and respond to their world in an effective way is diminished. At the most basic level, children need to maintain a “level of arousal” in which they can attend to their environment in order to allow them to engage and learn.
Within our program we provide both individual and group experiences designed to help students to maintain an optimal “level of arousal” needed within each activity and environment. We bring sensory tools into the classroom and create environments that are void of common items that tend to lead to sensory “overload”.