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Life Skills Program FAQs

Background

Marklund's Autism program provides programming to both students on an academic (average to high functioning) and life skills track. Our program was created by BCBAs. We utilize a functional autism curriculum with a standards based curriculum and assessments. Technology is integrated throughout the day utilizing multi-touch SmartBoards, iPads, and assessed communication devices. Students have several sensory options available, from a sensory room, self-deescalation area, Snoezelen room, and technology outlets. We have teachers that are certified autism specialists and reading specialists. All of our related services are staffed as Marklund employees and not contracted out. Our BCBA is our only contracted position allowing for behavior plans to be addressed without bias opinion. Below are some the most frequently asked questions followed by answers. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director of Education, at 630-397-5684.

What types of equipment do you have at your facility in regard to sensory integration, communication, technology, fine and gross motor needs?

Our school is equipped with classroom SmartBoards, I pads, student desktop computers, mobile computer lab, technology switches, various communication devices, adaptive bike, and adapted seating/chairs.  In addition, we have a self-regulation room that contains gross motor activities for sensory breaks including a swing, trampoline, therapy ball, gym mat, stretch blankets, and rocking chair. We also have a Snoezelen room for calming and relaxation that contains special lighting, mirrors, ball pit, bouncy chair, motion table, hand lotions, music, black lights, rope light manipulatives, crash mat, and various hands on sensory items. Also, our school provides aqua therapy, music therapy, dog therapy, and recreational therapy (among others including SLP, PT, OT, SW, ABA).

What are your student to staff ratios?

The ratio in our life skills program is 1:4 with a classroom teacher and classroom aide. If a student requires a 1:1, that is in addition to the classroom ratio.

What is your approach to behavior modification?  problem solving meetings? ABA, time out, reward systems, punishments?

Our school has an ABA therapist that works directly with the teachers to develop behavior goals and plans. We use token reward systems with most of our students. We do not have punishments or time outs, rather any consequences given are logical and natural (ex: a student is acting inappropriately towards a peer at lunch, the following day the student would not eat with peer until they can demonstrate safe behavior for one full day). We do have problem solving meetings when needed. We call these “in house” meetings, in which a staff member concerned with an issue can call an official meeting to brainstorm solutions to a problem as a team (involving all related services.) The team then decides an appropriate action to which each member adheres in order to provide consistency. Our school focuses on positive reinforcement and rewards to motivate students.

Do you have minimum requirements for staff credentials? MA/MS, BCBA, DPT, MOT?

All Life Skills Academy (LSA) teachers are certified special education teachers with the state of Illinois with a minimum of a M.A. in that field. The LSA teacher have or are working on acquiring their Certified Autism Specialist certificate. The Director of the program is also a Certified Autism Specialist. Paraprofessionals must have a paraprofessional certificate, and many of them are also certified teachers.

What curriculum do you use for Math, Reading, Social Studies, Science? 

Curriculum: includes:

Math-Show Me Math by Attainment, Moby Math, Early Numeracy Curriculum by Attainment, Math Builders, Explore math, Lakeshore Learning Hands on Learning Boxes

Language Arts-SRA Early Interventions by McGraw Hill, Teachtown, Reading A-Z, Razkids, Kidspiration, Stationary Studio, PECS, Unique Learning System, Teachtown

Science- Early Science Curriculum by Attainment, Science A to Z, Lakeshore Learning Theme Boxes, Edhelper, Exploring Science Curriculum

Social Studies- Little World Geography by Teacher Created Resources, Little Word Social Skills by Teacher Created Resources, and Our Community by TCR

Life Skills-Teachtown, Boardmaker, Health and Development by Attainment, ABA Curriculum

Teaching Techniques: Teacch, DiscreteTrial Training, Verbal Behavior Response, PECs,

 

How is it modified for individual student needs? 

Modifications to curriculum and instruction are based on individual student need. They may include things such as visual aids, increased time, limited distractions, specialized seating, direct instruction, alteration of classroom arrangement, self-regulation corner to relax when anxious, sensory tub table in classroom, use of manipulatives and concrete examples, daily schedule/routine, adapted utensils, sensory breaks, verbal and visual cues, modified work load and length of tasks, directions given in short succinct phrases, positive reinforcement, token reward system, use of de-escalation strategies, one-on-one instructional aide, and gross motor breaks for sensory input. Combine therapy groups/clubs are available to students in additions to their related service minutes to provide added support.

Who is included in the weekly team meetings?  Are they formal meetings including all classroom staff and therapists?  Do you have an agenda?

There are four types of weekly formal team meetings. The administration team involving the director and lead teachers meets weekly with an agenda. Therapist holds weekly classroom therapy team meetings with classroom teacher, classrooms aides and paraprofessionals to review goal tracking and methodology. The therapist meetings are not agenda driven, but more open ended in reviewing student progress, staff discussion and guidance. Lead teachers hold weekly team meetings with teachers, classrooms aides and paraprofessionals that are both open-ended and agenda lead in sharing administrative information and department programming. Classroom teachers have weekly classroom team meetings with classrooms aides and paraprofessionals that utilizes their lesson plans as the agenda.

Who coordinates your Assistive Technology?  Do you have a formal team? Does one of the SLPs look after the communication devices?  Send them in if repair is needed?

Both our resident assisted tech specialist and speech pathologist coordinate assistive technology. Together they train staff on new devices and programming. Depending on the device, damage and/or owner repairs are addressed in a timely manner.

What is the turnover of your facility annually?  Do you find that the Aides move on frequently?  Therapy Staff? Teachers?

Annually, Marklund has had steady growth in maintaining and expanding our staff with quality individuals. The Marklund organization promotes staff learning and education. Many of the staff are promoted within the organization. Most of the Marklund Day School staff have exceeded five or more years in the organization.

Do you have a nurse on staff? Do any of your students require one on one nursing care for seizures or other medical issues?

The school has three nurses on staff.  We have had students with 1:1 nursing care where a full time nurse is provided by the district. However, the nursing minutes that are provided by the Marklund nursing staff is usually sufficient in discontinuing the 1:1 nursing provision that would be required in other settings. Marklund Day School offers both a Multi-Needs and Life Skills programs to district students. We do have some students with seizures, g-tube feedings, trachs, and medical issues. Most of our paraprofessionals are also certified nursing assistants.

How often do your students participate in aqua therapy?  Where is the pool located?  Where is the site for hippotherapy?

Currently, we use the Bloomingdale park district pool in the summer and  we have offered our aqua therapy once a week in our heated pool on our Geneva campus during the regular school year. Next year’s offering of hypnotherapy is currently being reviewed. Blazing Prairie Stars, Equine Dreams Therapeutic Riding Center (riding therapy), and Ray Graham are being reviewed this summer.

Do you use a formalized/certified PECS system?  Are your staff members PECS certified?

The lead teacher and speech pathologist were trained by pyramid in a certified PECS system. Our speech therapist and lead teacher are both PECS certified.

What types of socialization activities do you have at your school? 

We have many socialization activities including planned sessions during recreational therapy, walks outside to the park, field trips to local stores, recreation therapy, music therapy, and monthly school wide themed events with group activities.

How frequently do you have team meetings?

Team Meetings: The life skills teachers meet daily to discuss student progress and concerns. The entire life skills staff, including paraprofessionals, meets once weekly. The leadership team meets weekly. The MDS staff meets monthly. The life skills teachers also meet on an as needed basis with therapists.

What type of data collection do staff members use to address IEP goals/behaviors?

Data Collection: MDS currently uses the online tracking system called Goal Tracker. It tracks both IEP goals and behavior. We would be happy to share samples of what our data collection sheets and graphs look like for our program. This information is available online for parents and school districts to view as well (when provided a private username and password). All data is tracked daily by paraprofessionals and reviewed by the teachers.

What is the website or name of the Goal Tracker program that you use? 

Our goal tracker system is actually called “Goal Tracker.” You can view information about it at this site: http://www.goal-tracker.com/goal-tracking.php.