The BECA Curriculum
BECA serves children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), ages 12 months through 22 years. Each child’s program curriculum is individualized based upon his/her specific needs. The primary aim of every child’s program curriculum is “closing the gap” between their skills and those of their typically developing peers. As this gap usually exists due to behavioral deficits across multiple domain areas, to close this gap, a comprehensive, behavioral education program is necessary. Therefore, each child’s needs are assessed across the following eight (8) domain areas:
|1. Reduction of Challenging Behaviors
2. Language and Communication Skills
3. Daily living/Self-help Skills
4. Play and Leisure Skills
5. Socialization and Community Integration Skills
6. Coping and Tolerance Skills
7. Pre-Academic/Academic Skills
8. Theory of Mind
At BECA, we use the term "behavioral education" to indicate the use of behavioral technologies (e.g., discrete trial instruction, schedules of reinforcement, incidental teaching, etc. ) as the vehicle to teach each child’s educational curriculum. Every behavioral education program is designed to give each child the skills they need in order to benefit from placement in the least restrictive educational environment. Using the principles of ABA, foundational skills are taught in a systematic fashion, failure is minimized, and participation is rewarded. Prompting strategies are used and distractions are reduced in order to maximize success. At first, the teaching is begun in the home--the environment in which a young child spends most of his/her time--and then gradually expanded to other environments including a classroom setting.
Consistent with current research, most early intervention programs (ages 3-6) consist of an initially high rate of direct, one-to-one instructional hours. It is not uncommon for behavioral education programs to consist of 25-40 hours per week of one-to-one ABA instruction. As the child becomes more skilled at learning from the natural environment, the intensity of treatment (i.e., the number of direct service hours) is gradually and systematically reduced until behavioral education services are no longer necessary.
Some children may continue to require behavioral education services beyond the early intervention years, and in some cases, throughout their lives. In these cases, the number of recommended service hours varies from child-to-child based on a variety of factors including: areas of deficit, rate of skill acquisition, amount of support required to function within the least restrictive home, school, and community environments, and additional/supplemental services received.
Because children with ASD often have a history of failure within the learning situation, every effort is made to make it successful, rewarding, and fun! Tangible rewards (e.g., favored treats or toys) as well as naturally occurring rewards (e.g., social praise/physical proximity) are used. These rewards are presented to the child for their participation. Because children with ASD often do not find naturally occurring rewards to be motivating, tangible rewards and naturally occurring rewards are paired so that, over time, the natural rewards become motivating. Each one-to-one instructional session lasts from 2 to 4 hours. Each of these sessions is comprised of time spent in the structured learning situation, at play activities within the session room, and on breaks taken outside the session room. The length of each instructional session and ratio of time spent at each activity is determined by your child’s age, the length of time they have been in the educational program, their skill or developmental level, and the complexity of skills being taught.
After your child has learned some basic skills within the one-to-one, structured teaching situation, steps are taken to generalize those skills to more natural, loosely structured settings (e.g., other rooms of the house, community settings, etc.). Once children have reached an appropriate skill level, placement in a school system is considered. A large component of any child’s program is a well-planned, systematic transition into a school setting. Important factors considered when making decisions regarding classroom placements include, but are not limited to, a reduction in interfering behaviors, a basic understanding of instructions, some simple toy play skills, peer-play skills, and successful potty-training. BECA’s educational program is geared toward providing your child with the necessary skills to participate in the least restrictive classroom placement possible.
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