MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - With April representing National Autism Awareness Month, students with special needs in Mount Vernon are taking center stage as part of an Applied Behavior Analysis program.
Last week, Vincent Carbone, a board-certified behavior analyst and CEO of the Carbone Clinic, toured Rebecca Turner Elementary School to evaluate the district’s Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program, which is run through his internationally-renowned organization.
Implemented by Director of Student Services Felecia Gaon last year, more than 80 students are now learning through evidence-based and research-based classroom methods. According to district officials, the students came into the program needing to be taught prerequisite skills for learning, such as sitting, attending to instruction and cooperating with an instructor.
Mount Vernon students that were non-communicative before entering the program have learned dozens of sign-language signals to assist them in communicating with their teachers. Students that were unable to sit down for more than 30 seconds are now engaging in schoolwork that involves writing, reading and counting.
“The students have made significant gains in these programs,” Gaon said. “These students are in with a lot of challenging behaviors and are performing wonderfully.
"There are many advantages to having a program such as this in place in a school district," she added. “The program allows students with disabilities to stay in their home school communities. And, teachers can monitor the environment better than if the students were placed in a school that is out-of-district where we’d only visit two times a year.”
According to Carbone, “these could be absolutely challenging situations, but through the support of teachers, administrators and the program, these students are learning necessary education skills.
“The emphasis here in Mount Vernon is learning development and skill development that goes beyond ensuring that these students are safe and staying in the classroom. There’s real learning going on and it’s really nice to see.”