LINKS Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program links (lingks), v. to unite or connect
Key Questions • What is Autism or ASD? • What does an education for students with Autism require? • What is the LINKS curriculum?
Autism is… a Neurobiological disorder that impacts processing, attention and shifting, basic social behaviors, interaction with the environment and learning in three diagnostic areas: Impairment in Communication Restricted & Repetitive Behavior Impairment in Socialization
What do we know? • Autism is part of a spectrum called ASD that also includes Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD-NOS. • Characteristics are evident by the age of 3 (DSM-IV criteria) • 70-95% with a documented developmental concern before the age of 2 years • 13-30% of children had a reported developmental regression by 2 years of age • Occurs 4 times more often in boys than girls
Autism Spectrum Disorders PDD-NOS Impaired social interactions Or Impaired communication Or Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns or behaviors, interests and activities Autism Impaired social interactions And Impaired communication And Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns or behaviors, interests and activities Asperger's Disorder Impaired social interactions And Normal communication/language development Or Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns or behaviors, interests and activities
New Research One in 88 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by the age of 8. On average 1 in 54 boys was diagnosed, compared to only 1 in 252 girls. -Center for Disease Control
Goals for Students with ASD (Biggest needs of students with ASD) • Socialization • Independence • Organization • Participation in the General Education Curriculum
Undeniable Truths Autism is not going away and… the school system needs a way to meet these needs that is cost effective.
Definitions LINK – a pupil who is enrolled in a LINKS course/credit program and who becomes a peer support or “LINK” to a pupil with ASD LINKS – a local education agency’s board approved peer-to-peer support course/credit program -MDE Pupil Accounting Manual
Evidence-based practices for students with ASD There are 24 identified evidence-based practices: Parent-Implemented Intervention Antecedent-Based Interventions Computer-Aided Instruction Social Narratives Extinction Functional Behavior Assessment Self-Management PECS Differential Reinforcement Discrete Trial Training Pivotal Response Training Functional Communication Training Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention Structured Work Systems Social Skills Groups Reinforcement Visual Supports Prompting Speech Generating Devices Response Interruption/Redirection Naturalistic Intervention Task Analysis Time Delay Video Modeling
Peer Mediated Instruction and Intervention Peer-to-Peer support or peer mediated learning is well documented as an evidence based practice for pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder. LINKS elective course/credit programs represent one model of 21st Century instructional design that incorporates applied learning in a non-traditional manner. LINKS is based on long-standing national research and is an evidence-based model that is documented to have multiple learning outcomes for both students with ASD and students enrolled in the elective course/credit program. -MDE Pupil Accounting Manual
Evidence Based Outcomes For student with ASD For LINK LINK models typical academic and social behavior in educational environments Improvements in academic competence Experimental learning provides progressive knowledge regarding awareness and understanding of disabilities and experience in increasing skills in organization, responsibility, problem-solving, decision-making and accountability Improvements in academic competence Pupils at-risk for academic and behavioral issues who enroll in LINKS courses demonstrate increased grades and increased attendance -MDE Pupil Accounting Manual
Educational Environment The special education teacher teaches a general education course called “LINKS,” and serves as the teacher of record, provides training, facilitates case conferences, and gives the grade for the general education pupil in the elective course which is delivered in the special education class. The special education teacher is teaching the special education program at the same time. -MDE Pupil Accounting Manual
General Requirements for all LINKS courses • Pupil must be enrolled in grades 6-12, • Curriculum is approved by the local board of education, • Instructional objectives are established by the approved peer-to-peer support curricular content, • Pupil is provided a course syllabus, • The LINKS teacher must provide lesson plans and the grading criteria for each LINKS course/credit, • Daily attendance for participating pupils is recorded by the teacher, • Pupil assessment and grading is completed by the teacher of record, • Pupil meets all other enrollment and pupil eligibility requirements. -MDE Pupil Accounting Manual
Curriculum There is already an established curriculum for the LINKS class! This curriculum is Flexible enough to meet a variety of needs Accessible from any location with internet access Comprehensive in its content Each online module includes a pre-test, content material for learning, and a post-test. http://www.autisminternetmodules.org/index.php
Online Modules Modules are organized sequentially into four levels: Level 1 • About Autism Spectrum Disorders • Recognizing Autism-Assessment for Identification • Peer Mediated instruction • Prompting • Reinforcement • Restricted Patterns of Behavior, Interests, & Activities • Picture Exchange Communication System • Language and Communication
Online Modules Level 2 • Rules and Routines • Transitioning between activities • Antecedent-Based activities • Functional Communication • Supporting successful completion of homework • Response Intervention/Redirection • Visual support • Naturalistic Intervention • Extinction
Online Modules Level 3 • Self-Management • Overview of Social Skills • Home Base • Assessment for Identification • Sensory Differences • Social Narratives • Time Delay • Differential Reinforcement • The Incredible 5-point Scale • Strategies for teaching Functional Skills • The Employee with Autism
Online Modules Level 4 • Social Supports for Transition-aged individuals • Structured work systems & activity organizations • Task Analysis • Structured Teaching • Speech Generating Devices • Preparing Individuals for Employment • Customized Employment • Parent-Implemented Intervention • Computer-Aided Instruction • Discrete Trail Training
Journal LINK students are required to record a daily journal entry on a password protected blog. • This encourages the LINK student to think and reflect on what is happening in their experience with the student with ASD • Informs the LINK teacher as to what is happening in class • Informs other LINKs that are working with the same student about what is happening and share ideas
Journal Questions • Socialization: Describe how your student socializes with you and your classmates. • Independence: Does your student show independence or need help being more independent? Give examples. • Academics: How do you think your student is doing with homework, lectures, note taking, and assignments? • Other: Tell us anything else that happened during your Peer Connections hour.
LINKedUP Website for LINK students and teacher to communicate, post additional articles for reading, post assignments, and record daily journal on password protected blog. http://linkedeup.edublogs.org/
Case Conferences This is a meeting of all the LINK students that are working with the same student with ASD. This meeting could be held every 3-4 weeks. Case conferences help support the LINKs. Case Conferences come up with new ideas for the student with ASD. The meeting should ask three basic questions: • What is going right with our student? • What are some of the challenges our student is facing? • Brainstorm solutions
Who is involved? • General education students will sign up for LINKS class and receive an elective credit • The LINK will be matched with a student with Autism based on common interests, experience and age • Special Education teacher will serve as teacher of record and teach both classes
What is the teacher’s role? Training LINKS Organizing Informing the rest of the staff Defining the role of the LINKs Motivating the LINKs Creating a positive atmosphere for my students with ASD Modeling behaviors for LINKs
When do LINKs receive training? LINKS work with the student with ASD four days a week during their assigned hour and meet with the teacher for training day one day a week. Case Conferences are usually held during lunch time once every 3-4 weeks.
Where do students meet? LINK students will work with the students with ASD in natural settings such as the special education room, hallways, cafeteria, and gym. LINKS class has a classroom, just like any other class at the High School. This room also serves as the “safe haven” for ASD students.
Why do we need LINKS? LINKs are peers and they can Say things I cannot Do things I cannot Influence like I never will
The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.