A school readiness program for children with autism will launch in March at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Sarnia, thanks to a unique partnership between Pathways Health Centre for Children and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board. This initiative, part of the Ontario Autism Program, is for children aged 3 to 5, who are entering school for the first time in Kindergarten or Grade 1.
The program begins with a six-month group-based skill-building focus, followed by six months of transition supports as students enter their home school. Families and educators will have access to targeted consultation to support a successful school transition.
Key elements of the Entry to School Program focus on building a child’s skills and strengths within six domains:
• social interaction
• functional routines
• behavioural self-management
• pre-academics, learning and attention.
Children eligible for the program will be 3 to 5 years of age with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, registered in the Ontario Autism Program and entering school for the first time, in either Kindergarten or Grade 1.
“We are pleased to be part of the Entry to School Program through the Ontario Autism Program,” said Alison Morrison, CEO of Pathways Health Centre for Children. “With a focus on transition to school, it is ideal to offer the program in a space that looks like, sounds like, and smells like a school! We would like to thank the Chatham-Kent Lambton Administrative School Services (CKLASS) for helping us to locate an appropriate space that will support strong program delivery.”
“Through this excellent partnership, we are pleased to support the Entry to School Program, and the many benefits it will provide to our youngest learners, who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, as they transition to Kindergarten and Grade 1,” says Scott Johnson, Director of Education for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
Beginning this month, 14 children will attend the program for approximately 10-15 hours per week with support of a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst, a Behaviour Assistant, a Special Needs Resource Consultant, a Speech-Language Pathologist, an Occupational Therapist and an Early Childhood Educator.