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Montessori Setting

Montessori Setting

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Goals acquired during discrete trials in ABA therapy is field tested in the Montessori environment so that the skills can be applied and/or generalized in real life.  The more skills that are tested this way, the greater likelihood it is for the children who graduate from ABA therapy to thrive in mainstream schooling.   Everyday, children are put in a classroom setting and their skills recorded for generalization; these include time staying seated while being giving instruction by a teacher standing about 5 feet away, following direction without the instructor giving one-to-one direction, etc.  Normally, special needs children are resistant to learning in a group setting.  Moreover, learning itself tends to be a turn off because children on the autism spectrum are not inclined to do activities that are not of their own choosing.  Hence, a different method of group-instruction is necessary.

In our Montessori setting, children are given a choice of differently assigned work during the school day in which the child decides what to work on.  Throughout the session, children are expected to initiate and complete the piece of work of their choice; this way inner motivation is being fostered.  As learning proceeds by the child’s rather than the instructor’s direction, he or she practices taking responsibility.  Autonomy and respect for the child is cultivated in this model.  Students are not pressured to follow the wish of the teacher; there is no hierarchy.  In fact, from the beginning of a student’s learning there is reciprocal consideration: for the teacher on what the student prefers and for the student on taking the initiative and then experiencing the joy that comes from learning.

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Typical academic curriculum such as language and mathematics are introduced, non-invasively, in a manner suitable for learners who prefer self-direction to other-direction in the Montessori setting. There are many materials in the Montessori classroom that emphasize practical application, called manipulatives, to achieve the “hands-on” aspect of learning that traditional, conceptually driven approaches miss.  Likewise, Science, Geography, and Social Interactions are taught in a natural setting; this cuts down on the struggle between student and teacher.

The Montessori-style delivery mentioned above works  especially well (as tested by our experience) with children with special needs.  Children with special needs are able to complete work on their own with self-confidence.  Each child works at her or his own pace and will not be held back by the hurdle of being different as is the case in mainstream educational settings.  Comparatively, integration into the typical peer community will be easier since each child is not defined by having to be a “certain way” and is less likely to have the pressure of having to “fit in”.

Autism Parent Care provides a backdrop of social skills training and typical peer integration in a stimulating Montessori setting for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and these goals are within the boundary of ABA therapy.  In conjunction, children with ASD work with their therapists on their individually customized program (Discrete Trial Training) and other ABA therapy goals.  ABA therapy is available ad libitum or throughout the service hours: parents can choose to select the ABA therapy-only component.

Jane Yip

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