A school district has been evaluating whether students with autism benefit from a specialized classroom, and after a year, the program is considered a success.
In Niagara Falls, the specialized classroom at Cataract Elementary School began in 2014. Because familiarity is important to people on the autism spectrum, there was great preparation prior to the opening of the class. Students and families were invited to a special open house prior to the opening of the program, which included all faculty and staff, including the bus driver.
The classroom is highly visual and includes spaces for individual work with students. The daily schedule is easy to follow and includes pictures to help students move from different activities. There is a high level of parent involvement.
The students meet with the general school population for physical education. They arrive and leave on a separate schedule, and eat lunch in their own classroom.
The program is highly focused on communication and individualized instruction. Many students have communication delays, and consistency is very important for academic success.