The Kennedy School offers an educational program for students on the autism spectrum. With the prevalence of 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism, it is imperative that we provide a supportive, structured environment to promote education, communication and independence.
The classroom environment for students with autism is structured to reduce anxiety and help students understand expectations and routine. Visual strategies are included into the instruction and environment to assist students in communicating and understanding the expectations. Visual strategies may include visual schedules, visual instructional supports and visual timers. For students with autism, consistent use of visual strategies is an extremely important life skill.
Development of appropriate social skills is an essential part of a student’s preparation for the adult world. Students in the educational program for autism will receive opportunities to increase their social skills and independence through social stories, social scripts, and small group social work sessions.
The educational program for autism includes various supports for building on existing skills to develop communication. Whether a student is verbal or nonverbal, appropriate supports and interventions are implemented in the program to increase communication skills. Often the supports may include low-tech or high-tech assistive technology, depending on each student’s individual communication needs.
The behavior management program is monitored by our Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Proactive behavior strategies are implemented into the classroom to ease anxiety and lessen maladaptive behaviors. Clear expectations are communicated with the students and professional development is provided to the staff in the classroom on behavior management. The behavior management program is designed around Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is an applied science based on theories of learning and behavior. According to Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, “ABA is considered an evidence-based ‘best’ practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association.”
For more information on the Educational Program for Autism at the Kennedy School, please contact Melanie Gilman, BCBA at
Director of Education/Principal
Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Licensed Clinical Social Worker/