LCA-141

LCA Seeking Typical Pears: ICAN Academy

LCA’s preschool program, is looking for typical peer models. The program, based on the principles of PRT, offers appropriate learning and sensory experiences in a group environment through an intensive, comprehensive program for children with autism spectrum disorders ages 3-6. Our holistic and interdisciplinary approach gives all our children a running start when they start school. Our team consists of Masters level teachers, a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, an assistive technology specialist, and three therapy assistants, all with their bachelors in education, psychology, or a related field. ICAN Academy has a maximum of 8 children and has an adult to child ratio no higher than 1:2 with one on one support when needed. Integrating peer models into the classroom provides excellent learning opportunities for the typically developing peers as well as the children with developmental delays. We are confident that our curriculum is appropriate and challenging for typically developing children and with our high staff to child ratios every child receives individual attention. Early childhood programs encourage child-initiated learning and children’s active physical engagement with each other and with the environment which is developmentally appropriate for both children with disabilities as well as typically developing children. With our emphasis on social interaction, we find that our typical peers develop higher social emotional intelligence and empathy for people with differences. Research suggests that inclusive settings are beneficial for both children with or without ASD for many reasons. Inclusive classrooms have shown positive effects on the following areas of development:

Communication, Language and Literacy: Communication can take on many different forms and some children with disabilities need other forms of communication than the more common oral/aural or writing/reading literate exchanges within classrooms. Many individuals who have significant communication difficulties use alternative means of communication such as sign language, Facilitated Communication or Picture Exchange Communication picture cards. Within inclusive classrooms children have the opportunity to learn how to communicate with others who may communicate in nontraditional ways. In addition, students have access to multiple ways of expressing themselves and understanding others. Typically developing peers can benefit from seeing the visual representation used in sign language especially when developing language. They are in essence learning a second language, which some research has shown to contribute to later language proficiency.
Social & Emotional: Inclusive classrooms create opportunities where all students can at one point or another be given the role of a leader or supporter. Conversely, all students can and should be supported based upon specific needs to a particular situation. This reciprocal process of collaboration fosters an awareness and understanding of the diversity that exists within the classroom as well as in the broader community. In a community of learners, students are encouraged to work together and discover ways to support one another.