"To educate a child is like turning walls into doors"
Applied Behavior Analysis
Our program utilizes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques throughout all activities, including: academic instruction, sensory integration, motor groups, small group instruction and social skills programs. ABA is an empirically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. The principles of behavior analysis have been successfully utilized with children with autism and related developmental disorders. All staff at Yaldeinu are trained in the principles of ABA. Using these methods, antecedent and consequent variables are manipulated in a systematic manner to affect behavior change in socially significant behaviors. Problem behaviors are addressed using function-based responding. Complex tasks are broken down into smaller components and taught in a highly structured format. Data is collected on a daily basis to ensure progress in skill acquisition and monitor changes in behavior. Opportunities are provided for practice of skills in all relevant settings.
An individualized educational program is developed for each student by a multi-disciplinary team using ongoing assessments. This curriculum includes techniques carefully selected to address each student’s learning style. We use engagement strategies to establish joint attention and ensure that students are actively engaged throughout the learning experience. Reading, writing and mathematics are taught in a 1:1 setting and generalized to the natural environment. Training is provided to promote executive function skills and foster independence in areas of task completion and time management. The principles of ABA guide all of our teaching with data collected on a daily basis to guide our programmatic decisions and ensure effective teaching. The academic curriculum utilized is empirically validated and aligned with Common Core standards when applicable.
Orton-Gillingham reading and spelling assessment to determine decoding and encoding abilities
The Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) assessment is used to determine each student’s instructional reading level.
Balanced Literacy –
We teach reading using a combination of whole language and phonics to build accuracy, fluency, comprehension and a passion for reading.
-Sight Word Recognition
Sight words, Edmark Reading Program
-Orton-Gillingham based instruction
Phonological awareness, encoding and decoding
-Explicit Comprehension Instruction for Reading and Listening Comprehension
High interest texts across a wide range of genres provides students with an authentic literacy experience
The writing process is taught using the Writing Workshop Program through which students publish their work.
CRA Model- Math skills are addressed using the Concrete, Representational, Abstract (CRA) model in conjunction with a standardized math curriculum book.
Stern Math- A multisensory, manipulative-based, conceptual approach to teaching mathematics designed to develop a child's emergent number sense in a logical and structured manner.
Small Group Instruction
The Vocational program was launched in 2017 as a means of helping the students of Yaldeinu transition into adulthood with functional skills. There are constant additions to the program as we research and develop more to meet our students’ needs. The program is geared towards expanding our students’ skills in the domains of:
-Home (ex: laundry skills, cooking skills)
-Work (ex: computer skills, phone skills)
-Self Determination (ex: self-advocacy, self-reflection)
We personalize programs that cater to each child’s unique abilities and goals. We present students with a myriad of job opportunities, thus helping them find their niche. We also involve the students in determining their interests, strengths and setting goals. Great emphasis is placed on increasing executive functioning skills as they pertain to organization, planning, task completion and time management. The overarching aim is to increase the level of student independence and generalize performance to the broader environment. Programs are assessed on a consistent basis and data is collected to measure progress and make programmatic changes as necessary. The ultimate goal of the vocational program is to produce happy and successful students that have the skills and confidence needed to navigate the complex world. By believing in the individuality of our students and providing them with opportunities for learning and growth, they can learn anything.
Highlights of the Vocational Program:
The Yaldeinu Apartment
The Yaldeinu apartment was built with the students’ needs and goals in mind. Our goal was to provide our students with naturalistic setting where students have the opportunity to learn and practice crucial household and daily living skills, as well as promote more independence. Our apartment boasts a full bath, kitchenette, dinette, oven and stove, refrigerator, couch, closet, laundry rack, wash and dryer, and a host of homemaking necessities such as a vacuum cleaner, mop, and more.
As Class Presidents and G.O. Presidents, students get to experience working as a team. They work on important skills needed when working together with others such as: advocacy, compromising, devising a plan, negotiating, researching options, following to-do lists, and then ultimately, reflecting on the outcome of their decisions.
The Yaldeinu Simcha Gemach/Party Rental
The Yaldeinu Simcha Gemach was created as a business where students can learn invaluable life skills in a real work environment, while enabling them to make a broader difference to society. Our students run the day to day operations of the Simcha Gemach. From bookings, to washing the tablecloths, to preparing all items, our enthusiastic and responsible students can be relied upon to do the job perfectly, with the right support from their therapists, teachers, and instructors.
The Benefits of our Internal Business Model:
We can create a job based on a student’s strengths and match the student to the job versus matching an existing job to a student.
We can keep adding skills and teachable moments as the student excels in his/her job.
We can focus on the process in addition to the product.
Using ABA methodology, data can be taken every step of each skill being taught, thereby maximizing the learning process.
Most importantly, we have the students’ best interests in mind.
"When students find a million reasons why they can't,
Therapists find one reason why they can"
Speech & Language Therapy
The Speech and Language Department at Yaldeinu incorporates our student’s cognitive, emotional, language, and social levels when crafting each child’s individualized program. Through ongoing dynamic assessments and a team approach, our professional Speech and Language Pathologists create social, academic, and functional language goals in a hierarchical fashion that encourages optimal language and pragmatic progress. Strong emphasis is placed on:
Building solid executive functioning and language foundations through a cognitive approach to language
Supporting the development of neural passageways to enable continued language and pragmatic growth
Creating language enriched classrooms
Multi-modality Approach to Improving Oral Motor and Speech Mechanisms/Articulation
Our team provides quality and focused 1:1 language and social instruction in addition to group language and social activities that support development and generalization in a language enriched classroom. Additionally, we offer ongoing consultation and training to classroom staff to ensure treatment fidelity of each child’s program. Some of our language targets include:
Increasing MLU (mean length of utterance)
Expanding long-term memory via a leveled associative approach and the concepts of visualization
Reading and picture/scene comprehension through self-questioning and self-comprehension checks
Problem-solving that integrates brainstorming, the process of elimination, mind-bending exercises and the critical thinking steps needed to create novel solutions in real time.
Socially, our team utilizes the Social Thinking Curriculum® as a spring board to engage the students in our unique social skills curriculum. Skills that are addressed include:
Waiting and turn taking in games and verbal conversation
and unexpected behaviors
Recognizing main ideas and people in new social scenarios
Creating novel questions, comments, and topics in peer groups
Identifying emotions on a ranging scale and appropriately reacting and/or sharing those emotions in an emotionally heightened situation.
These language and social targets are integrated into all classroom and functional activities throughout the child’s day in order to empower our students, fostering independence and growth in a natural and dynamic manner.
Occupational therapists are concerned with helping individuals function at their optimum capacity so that they can be successful with following through with their daily expectations. We therefore provide interventions to build skills. However, what we are fundamentally concerned with, is the foundational developmental delays that are the root cause of the children’s challenges. The occupational therapists at the Yaldeinu school are trained to assess each child’s developmental progress to determine which specific areas of function require intervention. We then create programs to reinforce these areas of weakness through individualized, classroom, and group interventions, consisting of targeted strategies to help build these foundation areas. Once the foundational deficits are identified and addressed, each child becomes better prepared to learn, interact, and benefit from the academic and social opportunities provided at the school.
Occupational therapy at Yaldeinu is not just provided as a one to one intervention, but also as a resource that is imbedded into the daily routine of all of our students. Through an understanding that a child’s regulatory state is a significant factor in their ability to be successful in all aspects of their daily routine, care is taken to ensure that the students are functioning at their optimum state of arousal. This is accomplished through multiple daily sensory motor groups completed in the classroom as well as through the student’s individualized sensory programs based on their specific needs. Our fully equipped sensory gym can be accessed by the students for completing their sensory diets as well as for group interventions.
Specific programs to build skills are reviewed with the student’s individualized instructor and performed during academic learning sessions. The opportunity of consistent practice and review of skill-based tasks, outside their one to one occupational therapy sessions, affords the student’s the opportunity to build their abilities at a faster pace than would otherwise be expected.
The occupational therapists have been trained to employ a variety of modalities and intervention strategies to assist our students with meeting their goals.
Sensory Processing and individualized sensory diets
Specific curriculum based self-regulation programs
Integrated Listening System and Therapeutic Listening
Handwriting programs including:
Handwriting Without Tears
VAKT Handwriting Program
Prewriting programs including:
Sensible Pencil for early learners.
Interventions are focused on helping the children demonstrate gains in the following areas:
Visual Motor and Visual Perceptual
Coordination and Rhythm
Activities of Daily Living
Functional Life Skills
Here at Yaldeinu, our physical therapy program specializes in evaluating movement ability and dysfunction, as well as exploring the origin of that dysfunction to create movement that can transfer from one activity to another. We focus on achieving gross motor milestones but in good form, with proper alignment, and with good motor control. More specifically, our goals are:
gross motor development
and kinesthetic awareness
balance and righting
speed and agility
mid-range motor control and strengthening
coordination of body parts
We strive to achieve age-appropriate and socially appropriate goals, as we involve our students in group and individual activities using the latest therapeutic equipment.
The Music program at Yaldeinu uses evidence-based and goal oriented musical interventions within a therapeutic environment. Music therapy sessions occur in a 1:1 format as well as small groups. Group sessions serve as social groups where children can enjoy and make music together. It is a multi-sensory experience where children get to participate receptively and expressively, and engage in self-discovery. By singing, creating and moving to music, the students’ also work on achieving and maintaining a regulated state, increasing levels of attention, engagement and group participation. Through music and song students expand their language concepts and executive functioning skills in a fun and enjoyable context. Music expresses what cannot be said. “Where words fail, music speaks”.
The Social Work program at Yaldeinu focuses on the child as well as the family unit. In school, students receive 1:1 counseling to help them deal with a variety of matters that are affecting them in their daily lives. The counseling department is there to help the child and family make it through tough times. Social work class groups also take place to address topics that arise in the class as a whole.
Underlying Causes and Contributors to Autism
Research has shown that the root of autism can be traced to several factors including toxicity, poor immune function, poor gut health and inflammation. Children on the autism spectrum have faulty detoxification pathways thereby leaving them susceptible to environmental toxicity. The immune system and gut overlap between 70% and 85%. The gut is usually the body’s first exposure site to infectious and parasitic organisms, and is usually the first place to fight them, however with our children this does not occur. Underlying cause of gut symptoms can include intestinal permeability and gut dysbiosis: it’s very clear that children with autism have an altered pattern of gut flora. Many children have immune issues and all have high levels of inflammation. Because the gut and brain are connected, brain inflammation is noted in autistic children. Food sensitivities are the norm in this population and can produce physical, behavioral, emotional and cognitive symptoms. Although genetics may play a role in autism, scientists are beginning to realize that the environment can turn genes on/off (epigenetics). As such, autism can be considered a disorder that is triggered by the environment to those who are genetically susceptible. We believe that we can help children through interventions that address the underlying causes rather than masking the symptoms.
Nutrition at Yaldeinu
We provide nutrition education, wholesome snacks, and meals that are gluten-free, dairy free and sugar free. Snacks consist of freshly cut up fruits and vegetables. Lunches, cooked on our premises, are hearty and wholesome, with a hot soup, protein, gluten free grain, and vegetables provided daily. Using a food exposure program, we work to expand our students’ food repertoire and encourage healthy choices. Meal times are learning opportunities, led by teachers and occupational and speech therapists on a rotating basis, thus enabling students to work crucial skills and social interaction. Our goal is to promote healthy eating with a positive meal experience.
To further promote healthy choices in the home, we provide weekly healthy recipes in our school newsletter that comes along with a “health watch” column. Parents are continuously supported as they go about implementing a healthier lifestyle. as part of their approach to healing. We have a weekly school wide baking program, where in addition to learning about following recipes and related skills, students are empowered to prepare healthy treats in a fun environment. This serves as a positive learning opportunity for students to witness firsthand that healthy eating can be delicious and exciting.
Daily snacks are provided in the morning and afternoon consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Red Lentil soup
Cashew ‘cheese’ pizza
Homemade fish sticks with freshly ground fish
Matzoh ball /vegetable soup
Health Coaching at Yaldeinu
The Yaldeinu School supports our students and their families in their quest for better health. We see each child as a whole and understand the important role of nutrition and its impact on behavior, regulation, and level of function. Our health director collaborates with the parents in their mission towards implementing a healthier lifestyle. Whether it is coordination with outside health practitioners, or bringing the latest advancements in the field to our families, we offer family support in whichever health direction they take. We believe that child development and pediatric wellness are strongly correlated. Therefore, we are committed to having every child on an individualized health program that will enhance their wellness as well as bring the children to a new level of healing and independence.
Some of the guest lecturers we have had are: Mary Coyle, D.I. Hom, a homeopath with extensive training in homotoxicology; Nancy O’Hara, MD, a Board Certified Integrative Pediatrician with a specialty on Autism; and Julie Mathews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant who is an internationally respected autism diet and nutrition specialist. It continues to be our belief that by addressing the brain-gut connection in children with Autism, children can make great strides across all areas of development.