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Students with ASD better prepared for learning

Being Included
Posted on 10/13/2020
Dad and daughter

Helping students with autism be better prepared for learning in the classroom is the focus of a three-year pilot program now entering its second year in WECDSB schools.

“Students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have complex and varying needs, and skills

development is an important component of learning that can help them reach their full potential in school and beyond,” Diane Tope-Ryan, a WECDSB Senior Program Specialist, said of the After School Skills Development program. “The aim of this program is to focus on intervention in these areas.” 

Funded through a Ministry of Education grant, the program was launched last October with students in JK to Grade 2 at St. Angela and St. Louis Catholic Elementary Schools. After Christmas, it was expanded to include Notre Dame and St. William Catholic Elementary Schools. More schools are being included this year.

Throughout the program, students participate in activities and play strategies that they can generalize to the natural environment during recess, while broadening other play opportunities with peers of the same age. The aim is to increase appropriate play actions, increase social interactions, increase language and begin to facilitate peer mediation techniques.

“We are seeing better engagement in the classroom, more attention to tasks, improved regulation, and more engagement with their peers,” Tope-Ryan said. “This allows the student a greater opportunity for successful integration in the school environment.”

“We want all of our students to feel and be included, to set goals and to reach their potential,”  said Joseph Ibrahim, the Superintendent of Education whose portfolio includes Special Education. “This program has been an excellent addition to our services and provides our students with strategies to achieve active participation in their class.”

Check out this great video illustrating how successful the program has been so far:


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