The Autism School Consultation Program
Why have an Autism Consultant?
Autism was once viewed as a relatively rare developmental disability; it is now estimated that as many as 1 out of every 166 people may be affected by autism. Yet, while there are increasing numbers of students with autism, many educational professionals have limited training in autism, and many have very limited experience working with this group of students.
Although students with autism spectrum disorders have deficits in core areas, they also possess strengths and areas of interest. For example, students with Asperger Syndrome often posses advanced vocabularies and considerable knowledge of certain areas of interest (e.g., baseball statistics, dinosaurs, astronomy). Students diagnosed with autism, PDD-NOS, and Asperger Syndrome may have intellectual abilities that are in the average to very superior range of functioning. Many students with autism have strong rote memories and are visual learners. Students with ASDs may also be very interested in making friendships with other students their age.
School districts have the challenge and the responsibility of educating an increased number of students who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) display significant and pervasive deficits in their ability to form and maintain social relationships. They are often subject to teasing and ridicule from their peers. Although communication deficits are a defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorders, the ways in which these deficits are manifest in each student vary considerably. The unique cognitive profiles of the students range from the mentally deficient range of intellectual abilities to the very superior range of intellectual abilities. Restricted areas of interest and repetitive behaviors often pose challenges for educators working with students who have ASDs who are educated in their home school district. Difficulties understanding abstract concepts, deficiencies in perspective taking and inferential reasoning, weaknesses in comprehension, and organizational difficulties, are common hurdles for students with ASDs and their teachers.
More than thirty school districts and human service agencies across Long Island have received support from the Cody Center’s Autism School Consultation Program.
These services have been provided to individuals in self-contained special education classes, co-teaching and inclusion classes, and mainstream classes. Licensed psychologists and certified special education teachers, who have extensive training and experience working with individuals who have autism, pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger Syndrome, comprise the team of dedicated and experienced professionals from the Cody Center who collaboratively work with school districts and the parents of these students.