The Star Academy is one of the leading schools for Autism from a national and international perspective. This school for Autism is not quite a school in the traditional sense but rather an intervention centre which makes use of ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder.
By definition ABA refers to the application of principles of behaviour to issues that are socially important to produce practical change. ABA is the only empirically tested and evidence based treatment for autism and these schools for autism make use of it. According to robust research, 30-40 hours of a behavioural programme on a one-on-one basis prior to the age of 4 will be by far the most effective in producing optimal change. Change can be conceptualised in terms of increases in the areas of skill in which the child is deficit, and decreases in problem behaviours that oftentimes accompany autism due to things such as communication deficits and sensory needs.
In order to address the skill deficits of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the ABA programme at The Star Academy consists of various programmes across eight curriculum areas which are fundamental in helping all their clients with regards to their respective deficits. These skills acquisition programmes comprise of the following domains with a few inherent examples:
- academic (necessary school skills i.e. counting, colours, math, listening comprehension),
- play (functional pretend play, symbolic play, imaginary play, electronic play, games with rules),
- executive functions (auditory memory, sustained attention, self-management),
- cognition (understanding emotions, desires, senses, cause an effect relationships),
- social (eye contact, compliance , personal information, politeness and manners, general knowledge),
- motor (fine motor skills such as writing, drawing; gross motor skills such as standing, hopping, running; ocular motility, physical education readiness),
- language (learning how to make requests (manding i.e. demanding), actions, people, relationships, features , functions) and
- adaptive (self-care- dressing, undressing, feeding, bathing, potty training).
The Star Academy also delves into Autism from a bio-medical perspective. This consists of looking at any underlying biological and physiological factors that plague the health of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. For example, many children have gut, bowel, or brain inflammation. Many have very sensitive internal systems and something like fluoride in toothpaste can cause strong behavioural reactions. These factors can lead to escalated levels of inappropriate behaviour stemming from irritability, frustration, aggression, uncontrolled and random giggling as well as regression in skills the individual has acquired thus far.
The Star Academy therefore takes a holistic approach to autism, referring parents to qualified and competent biomedical doctors for treatment of underlying symptoms which make learning so difficult for these individuals, while simultaneously addressing the skills deficits and behavioural excesses that these underlying symptoms have caused from a behavioural perspective. This provides an end to the search for schools for autism.
– by Nicole Gokul