BRAAC Definition of Autism
Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is marked by significant delays in communication and social relatedness. The result of a neurological disorder, autism hinders the proper functioning of the brain.
Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls and is found worldwide in families of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds. Typically, individuals who have autism have difficulty communicating appropriately, forming meaningful relationships with others, and/or responding appropriately to the environment.
Autism is a spectrum disorder with characteristics including repetitive behaviors, rigid patterns of thinking, and hypersensitivity to sound, light or touch. Although individuals who have autism do not have exactly the same symptoms and deficits; they tend to share certain social, communication, motor and sensory problems that affect their behavior in predictable ways.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recognizes autism as a disability category. The definition of autism provided by the Virginia Department of Education is a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.
BRAAC Statement on Treatment of Autism
There is no known medical treatment for autism. Autism is a challenging disability that requires qualified and highly trained individuals working together with parents to help children learn and grow. BRAAC recognizes that the only scientific evidence for successful treatment is through an appropriate education that is based on applied behavioral therapy through systematic one-to-one instruction. Early educational intervention for children who have autism has proven to be highly successful. Intensive educational opportunities significantly increase the chances for gains in intellectual and social development and major gains in the ability of children with autism to enter public education indistinguishable from typical children.
BRAAC employs as its primary teaching method, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). This method is based on the research based, scientific principles of operant conditioning to build socially useful skills and reduce inappropriate behavior. These behaviors have been shown to change in response to a carefully programmed, positive interaction with the environment. The ABA method at BRAAC follows structure focusing on teaching small, measurable units of behavior. The model at BRAAC is a success-oriented model based on positive reinforcement. Correct responses are followed by consequences that have been found to be positively reinforcing to the student. The discrete trial process and the programs used are under the supervision of a qualified and trained individual or agency. All programs are maintained in a program book and are open to review by the parents of BRAAC students. Complete documentation is maintained on every program. This data is confidential.
The priority of education at BRAAC is to teach students how to correctly discriminate among many different stimuli; teach students how to follow expressed requests; to assist in the development of expressive language skills; to provide an atmosphere of fun and success for each student; and to move students towards meaningful social interaction and continuing educational experiences into other environments.
Faculty and staff at BRAAC have attended extensive training for ABA and/or other sessions of training in behavioral approaches to the treatment of autism. There are consistent processes for supervision, observation and support through team meetings and individual supervision by the program consultants and/or the BRAAC Behavior Analysts.
BRAAC Definition of Learning Disabilities
A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. This term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. According to the CDC (2009), 4.6 million children ages 3-17 have l earning disability.
BRAAC Statement of Treatment of Learning Disabilities
The priority of education at BRAAC is to teach students how to learn and become as successful as they can be academically, socially and behaviorally. The goal is for students to move toward meaningful educational experiences in other environments.
BRAAC staff is trained and supervised in the implementation of academic programs for students with learning disabilities by using direct instruction and research based curriculum that has been proven effective for students with learning disabilities.