by Tufanna L. Bradley-Thomas
In recognition of Autism Awareness Month 2018, we would like for you to meet Amor Teixeira-Foy. Her name means love. She is a fourth-grade student at Snipes Academy of Arts and Design, who was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Amor aspires to be a dog trainer when she grows up because of her love of animals, especially dogs. She enjoys exploring new places and playing computer games about animals such as Animal Jam. Amor is also a talented singer and actress, and her second dream in life is to become a singer or actress. She is a part of Snipes Academy’s Theatre performance group and has had acting roles in school performances.
Students like Amor are able to be successful in school with the help of services and supports that the Intensive Social Communication Support (ISCS) Program offers. Amor started out at another elementary school, but based on her Individualized Education Program (IEP), the district found that the Snipes Academy ISCS Program would better serve her academic and social needs. Every school day, Amor does her morning check-in where she reviews her social stories and self-regulation strategies to use when she is frustrated, has questions, needs help, or has an emergency. She also reviews her point sheet and identifies what reward she would like to work to obtain.
Amor’s parents, Damion and Mickeya Foy, are very pleased with Amor’s progress since her arrival at Snipes three years ago. “She has overcome a lot of challenges, and since she has been here, she has been able to excel and has come so far with her speech, articulation, and language,” said Mrs. Foy. “They gave her the skills that she needed to access strategies that they put forth for her to actually be able to interact with her classmates and the people in her community,” said Mr. Foy. “Before Amor was outspoken, but now she knows when to interject into a conversation and when not to interject into a conversation and what is appropriate to say. She has grown by leaps and bounds.”
“It was really obvious to me that we should focus on the ISCS Program for a special feature story,” said Julie Askew, Director of Special Education and Related Services. “It’s a program that we are very proud of, in New Hanover County Schools, and for good reason. It is a very unique program, it has a high level of fidelity, and is highly researched.”
Snipes Academy has a premiere ISCS Program that supports their students diagnosed with Autism. Kaitlin Yadlosky is an ISCS teacher as well as the Special Education Department Chairperson at Snipes Academy. Students in the ISCS Program are collaboratively taught by a team of educators and therapists. Currently, the Snipes Academy ISCS Program has 28 students, five ISCS special education teachers, nine paraeducators, and speech and occupational therapists. All staff are highly trained in helping students implement strategies and generalize their skills. The Snipes Academy ISCS Program is also supported by other district staff such as the Autism Specialist, Dr. Kerri Wright, and the Central Region Liaison, Anne Goins.
Students with an IEP are assigned to the school that they would normally attend, based on their home address, unless their IEP cannot reasonably be met at that school. In these cases, the NHCS Department of Special Education and Related Services determines the next closest school assignment, including transportation. When specialized Autism services are required, students are assigned to a particular school with ISCS services.
The ISCS Program is a highly structured maximum services special education program serving students in K-12 with intensive social communication needs. There are 245 students in ISCS Programs across the district. The ISCS Program follows the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and is standard or modified based on students’ academic needs. The instructional focus is practical social skills, pragmatic communication skills, organizational skills, sensory integration strategies, self-advocacy strategies and disability awareness. There is also support in general education to ensure the facilitation and generalization of social and communication skills into the general education setting.
New Hanover County Schools has many programs and services that support all students in the district, including specialized programs and services for special populations. Children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are a special population that has a full continuum of services and supports. There are five elementary schools in the district that offer Intensive Social Communication Support (ISCS), including Snipes Academy of Arts and Design.
For more information on the NHCS Special Education services, please contact Julie Askew at (910) 254-4454, or visit their webpage at http://www.nhcs.net/sped/.