The Spectrum Program is a multi-faceted research and education program designed to create educational options and interventions for teens diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, Nonverbal Learning Disability, and the like ("ASD").
Our innovative school-based program targets academically capable middle and high school students (grades 6-12) diagnosed with ASD.Begun with five students at New Roads High School in September, 2004, the program expanded to the Malibu Middle School in September 2007.
The Spectrum Program takes a fresh approach to addressing the needs of ASD students by reordering traditional academic expectations to give priority to the true needs of our students in the areas of social, communication, and life competency. To this end, we have developed a unique curriculum, aimed not just at teaching our students a set of isolated "skills" but, rather, focused on improving the coherence of their thinking and their understanding of others and the world around them.
The Spectrum Program provides both: a) inclusion in normal academic classes and campus activities, and b) concentrated, daily focus on improving our students' social and real-world functioning. To the extent of their individual abilities and desires, our students participate fully in the regular academic program offered at New Roads, supported by Spectrum teachers who provide academic assistance and interface with other New Roads faculty. During the time allotted for electives at New Roads, Spectrum students are immersed in our unique "narrative-based" social competency curriculum developed with the thoughtful input of members of our Board of Advisors and other community professionals.
Research has shown that at fundamental neurological levels, ASD individuals perceive and process information differently, often missing what is salient in their environment and encountering great difficulty in "imitating" and learning through observation. Our curriculum helps students build strength in these crucial areas in order to achieve maximum social functioning, independence, and life satisfaction. Using a combination of carefully constructed practical activities as well as techniques of narrative prediction, summary, discussion, and review based on these activities, we engage students in doing, not merely observing, helping them maintain focus on the salient aspects of social experience.
In consultation with UCLA faculty, and with the assistance of UCLA masters and doctoral students who serve as interns, we continue to assess our approach and interventions, evaluating them with an eye towards efficacy and application to a broader population of ASD students.
In addition to our school-year academic program, we are a provider of services, through the California Regional Center system for ASD students from the community at large and offer summer recreational and job-internship programs plus an after-school performing arts program. Over the past several years we have hosted student interns from UCLA and other area schools and we always are interested in pursuing strategic alliances with schools and other community organizations to share knowledge, research, and experience.
For further information, please contact Nancy London