The ARC program works as a resource centre for students requiring both social and academic support. Students enter the program in grade eight and transition out of the program at various times depending on their progress and level of independence. We strive to address the individual needs of each student and assist them in attaining both academic and social goals. A student may have a block to work strictly on how to build friendships while others may have more time in the program to address more specific goals. In some ways we work as interpreters for a world where they struggle to crack the code and understand the language of their peers.
Program Organization, Schedule, Structure, and Place
The program is designed to support a maximum of fifteen students grade eight to twelve. The students are divided among the staff in such a way that staff work with different students in each block. Staff either support during integration or in the resource centre during social skills and homework blocks. While some students attend classes independently strictly utilizing the centre for social skill development, other students require full time support. The majority of students are enrolled in four to six integrated classes. The rest of the time is divided between social skill development and academic support in the resource centre.
Working With Other Staff
Our goal with classroom teachers is to provide support for adapting the curriculum they are implementing, to suit the needs of our students so that they are able to have academic success. We provide information to all teachers on best practises for interacting with and teaching students with ASD as well as needs that are specific to each student. The information includes such things as organizing lessons and dealing with inappropriate behaviours. Staff attend classes, as needed, to ensure that both the student maintains appropriate behaviour with their peers. Staff support during class is reduced when these goals are met allowing independent growth.
Working With Parents and Community
We work closely with parents to provide consistency between home and school. Daily or weekly communication takes place through email or phone. Parents are encouraged to participate in IEP meetings and annual goal setting along with their child.
Independence and Organization
Often students come into the program needing a lot of support for the first year. We aim to reduce the amount of support the student requires as their coping and organization skills increase. Our hope is that by the second or third year in the program, students require only part-time support limiting their use of the centre to drop-in and/or receive a little extra support as needed, whether it be for social, academic or organizational purposes.
Social and Communication Skills
Socially, we would like our students to have friends, acquaintances and feel at ease in their social setting. As for communication, we aim for them to be able to advocate for themselves and their needs in an appropriate non-confrontational manner.
Academic Progress and Achievement
Academically, we look for steady progress and learning for our students regardless of duration or adaptations required for progression. We encourage them to find their own strengths, interests and talents; that they build on those talents to help create an independent life.