New Autism Initiative at Search

Search is embarking on a new initiative to better serve individuals with autism in our Adult Learning Program. We recently engaged a consultant from Have Dreams, an autism resource center, who is helping Search incorporate the principles of structured teaching. Structured teaching includes changes to the physical environment, implementing visual schedules, and creating routines, work systems, and task organization. In March 2019, a group of Adult Learning Program staff benefited from the training session that focused on autism basics and structured teaching.

Currently 1 in 59 children are born with autism, according to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Individuals with autism often need guidance and support with navigating social situations, communicating, accepting change, and managing sensory input. In order to stay ahead of the curve, our staff is learning as much as they can about creating an environment in which these individuals will be successful and gain valuable independent living skills.

Through implementing structured teaching methods, Classroom 9 at our Mount Prospect Adult Learning site got a new look! The space has been divided into stations for more organization and structure. The organized environment provides more predictability, which is important for reducing the anxiety that people with autism experience with changes to their environment.

We hope to bring similar changes to other classrooms in our Mount Prospect site, in order to provide a space that is integrative and supportive of the individuals we serve who have autism.