St. Gerard House's Discovery program is a group ABA therapeutic program for school aged children.
Discovery is a small group educational and therapeutic learning environment for school aged children with autism. It is well suited for individuals who benefit from structured intervention, but do not require 1:1 staff to client ratio. Like other programs at St. Gerard House, Discovery utilizes the principles and techniques of applied behavior analysis to build pivotal skills and guide learners towards achieving meaningful life outcomes. Individualized goals are developed through formal assessment, collaboration with learners and caregivers, and ongoing experience. Registered Behavior Technicians utilize strategies such as natural environment teaching and direct instruction to promote learning and establish motivation. Targeted goals are also woven into a broader curriculum, which includes domains such as social, communication, daily living, community participation, prevocational, academic, and self-regulation/emotional health. Regularly scheduled outings provide learners with the opportunity to practice these skills in a variety of environments. Academic instruction is overseen by St. Gerard House’s academic coordinator. The academic program is differentiated to meet each learner’s educational needs.
When challenging behaviors occur, the learner’s treatment team collaborates to develop an individualized behavior plan. Learners are encouraged to participate in this process. Behavior reduction interventions are rooted in evidence-based practice and the principle of teaching alternative behaviors that allow individuals to meet their needs in a more safe and productive manner. Above all, Discovery staff communicate respect and promote dignity when addressing such behaviors.
Ongoing data collection and analysis allow for objective decision making and progress monitoring for both behavior reduction/replacement and skill acquisition interventions. Regular meetings with BCBA’s and caregivers ensure that interventions are implemented in multiple settings, which promotes generalization of skills into environments that are meaningful for the client. Year-round instruction also ensures that skills are not lost.
Discovery operates with the philosophy that every moment is a teaching opportunity, and that learning occurs with practice and proper motivation. Ultimately, this program seeks to discover the potential in those that it serves, so that they can experience more joy and share their unique abilities with the world around them.