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"... the most important considerations in devising educational programs for children with autistic spectrum disorders have to do with recognition of the autism spectrum as a whole, with the concomitant implications for social, communicative, and behavioral development and learning, and with the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual child across areas of development."
—Educating Children with Autism2001

Diploma-bound Elementary Services (Grades K-5)
  • Resource Services
  • Gifted and Talented/Learning Disabled (GT/LD)
  • Learning and Academic Disabilities (LAD)
  • Elementary Learning Centers (ELC)
  • Jones Lane Learning Center
  • Carl Sandburg Learning Center
  • Asperger’s Services
  • Behavioral and Emotional Support Services

Resource Services
Resource Services are available in all MCPS schools to provide the support that students with disabilities need to be academically and functionally successful in the general education environment. 

Gifted and Talented/Learning Disabled Services (GT/LD)
One Location: Lucy Barnsley E.S.
Gifted and Talented/Learning Disabled Services are available beginning in second grade to students who have demonstrated superior cognitive ability in at least one area and typically have production problems, particularly in the area of written expression. GT/LD services provide students with specialized instruction, adaptations, and accommodations that facilitate appropriate access to rigorous instruction in the least restrictive environment, which may include Honors or Advanced Placement classes. Some students may receive services in specialized classrooms.

Elementary Learning and Academic Disabilities (LAD) Services
Locations: Download MCPS Programs and Services Locations for Special Education Students, 2016-17
Elementary Learning and Academic Disabilities Services are provided to students with a documented disability that impacts academic achievement. These students previously received considerable special education support in the general education environment, but require additional services to ensure progress toward Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives. Selected elementary schools within each cluster provide these services.

Elementary Learning Centers
Locations: Download MCPS Programs and Services Locations for Special Education Students, 2016-17
Elementary Learning Centers (ELC) serve students with varying disabilities through a continuum of services in self-contained classes within comprehensive elementary schools, with opportunities to be included with nondisabled peers in the general education environment. The services address the goals and objectives in the student’s IEP while ensuring access to the general education curriculum through assistive technology, reduced class size, and differentiated instruction. Classes are taught by a special education teacher with support from a paraeducator.

Jones Lane Learning Center (for Autism)
One Location: Jones Lane Elementary School
This Learning Center serves students with autism who are following the general education curriculum, but need a high degree of structured, ongoing systematic behavioral intervention and reinforcement for compliance and escape behaviors, as well as structured teaching for transitions, following routines, maintaining attention to task, and increased independence. Students have social needs in the area of pragmatics and sometimes in the area of reducing interfering behaviors. 

A special educator and two paraeducators provide instruction in each self-contained, mixed-grade classroom that is highly structured with familiar routines, clearly defined rules and expectations, structured teaching, and motivation systems to support academic, social, and behavioral needs. Visual cues are paired with oral instruction. Students are instructed in small and large groups, and learn to work independently with faded adult support.

Carl Sandburg Learning Center
One Location: Carl Sandburg Elementary School
Carl Sandburg Learning Center is a small, public school within MCPS, serving approximately 115 students with multiple disabilities in K–5. Students are taught in small, highly structured classrooms. The typical ratio of student-to-educator support is 1 teacher : 1 paraeducator : 8 students.

Elementary School Asperger’s Services (starting in 1st grade)
Two Locations: Sligo Creek E.S., Diamond E.S.
The Elementary Asperger’s Services are provided to students diagnosed with autism who have average to high-average intellectual ability. They access the general education curriculum on or above grade level, and participate in the PARCC Assessment, but require supports including specialized instruction in a self-contained setting to assist with written language, social skills, comprehension of abstract and inferential information, and organization. Students have documented social and behavioral needs that have significantly interfered with their ability to participate in less restrictive settings, despite a variety of special and individualized supports. 

Instruction is provided in mixed-grade classrooms within comprehensive elementary schools. Grade-level reading, language arts, math, and social skills instruction are taught by special education teachers in self-contained classrooms. Students are gradually included in general education classrooms for academics, with support from a paraeducator. Paraeducator support may be provided during transitions, lunch, and recess.

Teachers integrate highly structured routines, visual supports such as schedules and graphic organizers, social stories, social skills instruction, and motor breaks. Individual and classroom motivation systems are used to reinforce appropriate social behavior, to assist students in managing target behaviors, and to encourage them to follow the rules and classroom routines. Social skills groups, class units, and individualized direct instruction provide students with strategies for acceptable behavior. Autism staff collaborate with a transdisciplinary team and school-based counselor to integrate social skills teaching and opportunities to generalize these skills throughout the instructional day. The typical ratio of staff-to-student support is 1 teacher : 2 paraeducators : 8 students.

Read one parent's description of her son's experience in this program.

Behavioral and Emotional Support Services
Six Locations: Westbrook E.S., Georgian Forest E.S., Flower Hill E.S., Fairland E.S., Great Seneca Creek E.S., Flower Valley E.S.
The Behavioral and Emotional Support Services are provided within comprehensive schools to students with social, emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges that adversely impact their success in school. The majority of students are identified with an emotional disability. Some students are identified with other disabilities, such as other health impairments, language disabilities, and learning disabilities. Students demonstrate average to above average cognitive abilities yet may not demonstrate commensurate academic achievement due to a history of emotional and behavioral difficulties that interfere with their ability to participate successfully in the general education curriculum. The program provides services in a continuum of settings that may include self-contained classes and opportunities for participation in general education classes with non-disabled peers as appropriate. The model also has an alternative structure component that provides levels of containment to respond effectively to students’ inappropriate and disruptive behavior.

Improving the educational experiences and outcomes of students on the autism spectrum in grades K-12

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