Prospect preschool reports success with autism programme
An education programme designed for schoolchildren with autism has proved a hit after just four months.
One parent said his son was in the “right setting” to deal with the problems he faced. Amir Mizrachy, whose son attends the Growing Connections programme at Prospect Preschool, in Devonshire, said: “The classroom has a smaller number of students than that of a regular preschool class.
“The integration of special education staff, together with the services of the occupational therapist and speech therapist — there is a more focused and holistic approach in dealing with children with special needs in a school setting. We are so happy on how our son has developed since he started.”
Carmelita Trott, who is responsible for early education and special education at the Department of Education, said that the programme had got off to a strong start since it launched last September. Ms Trott added: “We have seen lots of gains by introducing this model in Bermuda for our preschoolers in the Bermuda Public School System.”
Susan Robinson, the programme’s lead teacher, said that pupils were taught life skills, such as grocery shopping, baking and hygiene, in addition to mainstream preschool work.
A spokeswoman said the programme, introduced to close the gap between the Child Development Programme and the primary school programme, had shown “much promise for student progress in its first term”.
She added the programme was designed “to foster socialisation and communication through a purpose-built environment and specially created materials”.
The spokeswoman said that the programme used the Secrets model, which stands for social communication, emotional regulation and transactional support. She added: “The purpose of the programme is to directly address the individual core challenges faced by children and persons with ASD and related disabilities, as well as their families, which means the programme extends beyond the classroom into students’ daily lives.”
Teachers, teaching assistants and others were trained in the Secrets method before the programme launched.
Training was provided before the October break. Topics covered included the use of visual material to support expressive language, communication skills and respect for independence.
Amy Laurent, a coach and mentor in the Secrets programme, said that the team at Prospect Preschool was “invested and energetic”.
Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said last August that the programme had one teacher for every two pupils.
He added the programme will provide focus on the social and emotional elements of development, and utilise the preschool curriculum that is taught in other schools, according to the child’s level of functioning.”
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, announced in the 2019-20 Budget last February that some of the $327,000 earmarked for preschools would be used to create the programme.
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