Programs for students are shaped through a continuous collaborative person-centered framework involving parents, school district, staff, and the student.
Benhaven Academy believes it is critical to develop a relationship with a student before addressing challenging behaviors. Trusting and supportive relationships are paramount to effective behavioral support. Once a relationship is established, the team begins assessing a student’s behavior through the use of Ross Greene’s Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP). Our approach to behavior is allows for high levels of collaboration and problem solving with the student and among the team.
Plan for Success
Based on the identified lagging skills and unsolved problems, an individualized plan is created by the Special Education Teacher in conjunction with the student and the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The Plan for Success identifies specific proactive strategies and reactive strategies which aid in the problem solving and learning throughout the day.
Individualized Comprehensive Learning Plans
A comprehensive model incorporates best practices which are grounded in the works of:
- Ross Green’s Collaborative and Proactive Solutions and the use of Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP)
- Robert Brooks’ concepts of Charismatic Adults and using Islands of Competence to build trust and confidence
- Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking to promote social success
- Howard Shane’s concept of Visual Immersion to support language development and executive function
Academic course work is aligned with district graduation credit requirements and the common core state standards. Instruction is delivered in a small group and/or individualized setting by our certified subject area teachers. Subject area teachers work collaboratively with the student’s special education teacher to provide rigorous instruction while implementing the identified accommodations and modifications necessary for student success.
The school social worker provides instruction and support both individually and in small group settings to support the social and emotional well-being of students. Counseling focuses on topics such as self-reflection, goal setting, resilience, anxiety and stress management using a variety of approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Our counselor works in collaboration with the school team, parents, and other outside providers to ensure that everyone is working together toward a common goal. Students are provided with a secure, safe space where direct feedback and guidance are given in order to help them problem solve and grow. Ultimately, students learn and develop the strategies and tools to help them thrive in the school environment.
Executive Function/Study Skills
Organization is paramount to success in life. We believe that students need explicit instruction to improve their ability to plan and prioritize, organize themselves and their materials, and self-monitor their progress in order to prepare them for life beyond school. Students are taught strategies for studying, completing lengthy assignments, keeping binders organized and managing their frustrations when working on a challenging task. We believe that improvements in these areas help students to engage in goal-directed persistence in life.
The Therapeutic Recreation Therapist works with our students to help them to explore their ability to express themselves and more effectively communicate their needs to others. This is accomplished through the student’s active participation in both group and individual work that focuses on assertiveness skills, self-determination skills, relaxation, stress management, leisure and recreation skills, and anger management. Students engage in role plays and other active activities that help the student to become more confident in their ability to communicate with others and to participate in their communities. Learning these skills often helps students to achieve their personal goals of getting their first job or returning to their own school district.
The certified Physical Education teacher works with students both individually and in small groups to identify enjoyable activities that provide lifelong opportunities to stay active and healthy. Students learn resilience and goal setting through individual fitness plans such as hiking, biking, and weight training. In addition, students participate in recreation sports such as, volleyball, basketball, and four square. Students also have the opportunity to partake in Karate as a bridge to participating in the community.
Speech & Language
The licensed and certified speech and language therapist provides both individual therapy as well as small group instruction with a focus on pragmatic language skills and social skills development. Students have the opportunity to engage in high interest clubs where they may complete hands on activities such as puzzles or lego kits or watch and discuss movies or current events with other students who share similar interests. This allows for natural opportunities to use language and social skills and receive feedback from the clinician as well as peers in a safe and respectful way.
Visual Immersion SystemTM
Some students benefit from the principles of the Visual Immersion System TM (VIS) - using visual language to improve comprehension, expression, organization, and regulation. It's based on the concept that students with different disabilities (e.g. ASD, ADHD) are more proficient with visual input than verbal/auditory input. By having visual language be the primary modality, it improves their attention and processing of the information, and thus comprehension. It also helps access the language to use, and allows for improved executive functioning.
Individualized evaluation and services are provided as identified through each student’s IEP. Therapists work in collaboration with the teachers and staff to carry out strategies and activities in the natural environment.
Benhaven Academy integrates technology into teaching and learning to both meet the needs of the students and staff and to help students become responsible, knowledgeable users of technology. Technology is used in the classrooms to give students access to information from around the world, tools to learn and accommodations for a variety of needs. Our goal is to use technology to provide equitable learning to all students while providing students with the framework to be responsible and savvy users of technology and critical consumers of information. Benhaven Academy uses 3D printing, robotics and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to provided hands on opportunities to learn technology.
Clubs and Activities
Students have the opportunity to work on their social skills while participating in activities and in clubs based on their interests. Basketball Club provides students the opportunity to play small sided games against some other local schools. This experience is an invaluable lesson in responsibility, team work, and resilience. Dungeons & Dragons club allows students to employ their executive function skills of planning and organization paired with pragmatics to participate in this fun yet intense game club. Individuals may be provided with feedback from our staff as well as peers in order to build and maintain positive social relationships with others.
Students who are interested in art have the opportunity to explore their creativity through virtual and in-person art sessions. The art teacher, informed by art therapy techniques, encourages the students to develop personal expression through digital and traditional art mediums, as well as learning about individual expression throughout art history. The process of art-making can facilitate stress relief, encourage creative thinking, and allow for a nonverbal expression of emotion. The art lessons are individualized to fit each student’s interests and needs to make for an engaging and fun session.
Students have the opportunity to learn and apply the necessary skills that support their desire for a job, independence, and participation in the community. Services include career awareness and exploration, skill assessment, job shadowing, and job coaching. In addition, banking, cooking, and planned community outings help prepare students for independence in their lives.