Judy Monday (founder) began developing programming for students with autism for Poway Unified School District in San Diego, California in 2002. At that time, her charge was to reduce the district’s reliance on non-public agencies to provide services and meet the needs of all of the students with autism throughout the district. At that time, the numbers of students identified with autism was growing by over 100% each year and few teachers had the knowledge or tools necessary to teach these students. Parents were requesting to have 1:1 ABA services provided in the home by non-public agencies. Judy, with a small core of teachers and, Linda Reeve, autism specialist, began to build the district’s expertise by providing ongoing trainings to administrators, teachers, and instructional assistants. Judy and Linda developed a continuum of classroom program options and services including general education classes, autism spectrum disorder special day classes,integrated classrooms, special day classes for autism support and placements outside of the district that would be able to meet the needs of all students on the autism spectrum.
After 5 years, over 90& of the students participating in the autism programming required less adult support than when they first enrolled. Great gains in behavior, communication, self-regulation, academic skills and independence have been realized by the students. 100% of the high functioning students enrolled in the ASD preschool programs and were subsequently placed into general education kindergarten classrooms, did so without the need for a 1:1 aide.
The district no longer relies on non-public agencies for trained paraprofessionals to work with students in the classroom. The district has built capacity within of trained and knowledgeable teachers and paraprofessionals to meet the needs of the students with autism.