Autism Spectrum Disorder Programs
SESE and their member districts currently serve a population of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). According to the Autism Society of America (Autism is one of five disorders that fall under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), a category of neurological disorders characterized by “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development” Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults on the autism spectrum typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities).
SESE offers a continuum of services for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Currently, there are four self-contained classrooms to meet the needs of children who are specifically eligible under the Autism criteria from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The program is designed around current best practices with methodologies such as structured teaching, social skills training, speech therapy and occupational therapy. In keeping with the least restrictive environment, students are taught in a wide variety of settings to meet their educational needs.
SESE also offers itinerant services for students with ASD and their educators. The goal of this itinerant service is to support educators and helping students with ASD be successful within their educational setting.
Blind-Visual Impairment Programs
Any student who has a vision impairment that is adversely affecting his/her learning is a potential candidate for the vision program. Today, students with visual impairments or blindness are more likely to attend public schools in their communities rather than in residential schools like in the past. SESE currently employs one vision teacher who travels from school to school to provide direct and consultative services to visually impaired students. These “itinerant” teachers coordinate the specialized instruction and adaptive equipment needs of the child.
The goal of the SESE vision program is to enable each student to reach his/her highest potential for independent living in order to become confident and productive citizens. This goal is accomplished through communicating and working closely with regular and special educators, as well as parents and individual students.
Deaf-Hard of Hearing Impairment Programs
Any student who has a unilateral or bilateral hearing loss that impeded his/he learning is a potential candidate for the hearing impaired (HI) program. To meet eligibility for HI service, SESE implements a full screening process to help determine the severity of hearing loss. The screening process also evaluates the student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and any other delay that might impede the student’s ability to learn. Once eligibility has been established. Students receiving HI support are fully mainstreamed into education with varying levels of HI support.
The goal of the SESE hearing impaired program is to assist students with learning impairments to realize their full potential and become independent productive students.
Early Childhood Programs
SESE districts provide early intervention screening services for children ages birth to three years old. For the birth to three population, we refer parents to the Child and Family Connections LIC where screenings are conducted to determine if further evaluation is needed.
Transition services are provided for children receiving therapies from birth to three providers. Transition conferences are conducted by the LIC with the parents and early intervention service coordinator. An introduction to the school services available to qualifying children is provided during this conference. An evaluation by Cooperative support staff representing the child’s home school district is completed to determine if the child will now be eligible for services through the school.
Screenings for the three to five year old population are conducted in all SESE member districts in the spring of each school year. Any child identified as needing further testing may be evaluated by the SESE support staff which includes psychologists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, etc.
Children that qualify for Early Childhood Special Education services may be placed in one of six early childhood programs located throughout the five-county area. In these programs, the child’s individual needs are met through a specifically designed curriculum which reflect six areas, Conceptual Development, Speech and Language, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Self Help and Social Development. By focusing on these six areas, the student is better prepared to function in the home, school and community.
Emotional Disability Programs
Students with emotional disorders (ED) demonstrate affective disorders and/or adaptive behavior which significantly interferes with their ability to learn and function socially within education. The goal of our ED program is to provide support to students experiencing emotional and behavioral challenges. A variety of approaches may be used to achieve this goal. Self-contained programs are provided to coordinate intensive instructional services to students who are unable to learn within the general education setting. Through this intensive support, the goal is for the student to eventually transition into the regular education setting at his/her home school. Services are provided through the home district’s resource program for those students who need less intensive behavioral management and can find success within their home school with support. The goal is for the student to receive the necessary supports to be successful in their home school and to avoid placement in a more restrictive environment.
Programming for students with emotional disorders revolves around self-esteem issues and appropriate ways of relating to other individuals. Students participate in small group social skills instruction which is integrated throughout the day and taught directly during social work time. Students may also receive individual counseling so that personal issues may be addressed.
Intellectual Disability Programs
SESE and its member districts are continually striving to preserve dignity, to realize potential and to increase independence for this student population. A student will qualify to receive services through our intellectual disability programs if the child’s intellectual development and adaptive behavior are markedly delayed. Such impairment may be mild, moderate, severe or profound.
Students in the mild range are served in programs within their home districts. Students in the moderate/severe range several locations throughout the member districts of SESE. Within these programs the student’s needs are met through a specifically designed curriculum which reflects eight areas. These include functional academics, gross and fine motor skills, socialization, vocational training, communication, self help skills, independent living and recreation and leisure.
Learning Disability Programs
Students with specific learning disabilities (LD) comprise the largest group of students served within the SESE cooperative. A child with a learning disability exhibits significant difficulty in one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken and/or written. This difficulty may manifest itself in an impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or complete mathematical calculations. Students with a learning disability, by definition have average intellectual ability, however, there is a significant discrepancy between their intellectual ability and their academic achievement.
Programs that provide services to this group vary widely depending upon the nature and severity of the individual’s disability and are individualized to specifically address each students needs. SESE and member districts are mandated to allow each student to participate in general education to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, programs can be designed to support the student in general education (consultation), support the student by serving them in a special education classroom for part (less than 50%) of the school day (resource) or support the student by serving them in a special education classroom (greater than 50%) of the school day (self-contained). The abilities and needs of each student determine which program will best serve them. In addition, each student has individualized goals which specifically address areas in which the student will work in conjunction with his/her classroom teacher to realize their full potential.