The Education Alternatives Coral Autism Program is a specialized program for students on the autism spectrum. We spoke to Building Director, Jennifer Napier, from EA’s Brook Park campus, about what parents who are looking for an autism spectrum disorder schoolcan expect when transitioning their child to EA.
1. EA Understands Autism
The Coral Autism Program is different than EA’s traditional Day Treatment program because students on the autism spectrum have different educational and social-emotional needs than students with emotional issues and/or trauma.
“We found that a lot of children on the spectrum were referred out of public schools because of behavior issues caused by sensory overload. The behaviors were rooted in autism spectrum disorder and not necessarily an emotional disturbance. A lot of times ASD behaviors are not immediately understood as a result of sensory input, where they’re just feeling bombarded in their home school,” says Napier.
At EA, we understand that behaviors associated with ASD in schoolhave distinct root causes and ASD specialist schools need specific strategies to address them.
2. Specialized Academics for Students on the Autism Spectrum
“I very clearly tell parents we are not a typical school because if we did the same things that a typical school did, we would get the same results. I don’t expect it to look like their public school because public school wasn’t successful. I want Coral to be for those kids who haven’t been successful in a public school and need a place where they can feel successful,” Napier explains.
To call EA Coral an autism spectrum disorder school is only part of the story. The program is designed to teach the academic curriculum to small groups, with each classroom consisting of a maximum of six students. This helps moderate sensory inputs so students can focus and learn more comfortably, with fewer distractions, predictable routines, and ample breaks.
3. Sensory Break-Outs
Coral operates like an ASD specialist school. Different sensory spaces give students the ability to decompress and redirect without needing to leave campus.
“We have a special place for them to go to be calm – our sensory calming room, where we have calm light and music,” explains Napier. “We also have another room which is our ‘big muscle room,’ which is about heavy work. Heavy work means moving things, building things, or jumping on a trampoline so they can work their big muscles when they need to work their big muscles, as well.”
By using two different techniques to help with sensory processing, Coral gives students on the autism spectrum safe and specialized spaces designed to help build self-regulation skills.
4. ASD Acceptance
Napier is passionate about making sure families of students on the autism spectrum feel accepted and welcome at Coral.
“I think a lot of what we talk about is we will help them with the really hard stuff. Some behaviors can be uncomfortable for parents and the public school may consider these ‘red flag’ behaviors. Parents come to us worried that we won’t be open to working on something, and we always want them to know this is what we do. We talk about everything openly, we deal with everything openly,” Napier says.
Coral works on redirecting behavior with trust and positive regard, and Coral educators are experienced in every area – from basics like toileting to social cues and communication.
5. Beyond the School Day
Students on the autism spectrum benefit from more than traditional academics in Coral. Napier is always working on new ways to practice job and life skills. “Part of our work is preparing older teens with autism for what happens after high school, issues like how they can participate in their community, how they can get a job, what jobs should they get, and helping prepare them for those jobs. This isn’t so much a vocational program but more like a job readiness program, working on workplace skills.”
By role-playing and giving students hands-on life skills experience, Coral prepares students for success in their adult life too.
Reach Out for More Information on Our ASD Specialist School
Are you interested in enrolling your child in Coral autism specialist schools? Do you have questions about ASD in school? Take the first step today. Contact us today and we will reach out to you to discuss your enrollment options and next steps.