The Shafer Center for Early Intervention, an Owings Mills-based school for children on the autism spectrum, has developed a checklist to aid parents during the search and visitation process when choosing a program for a child on the spectrum.
The first resource of its kind, the “ Autism Program Checklist for Parents” outlines important programmatic features that The Shafer Center believes contribute to a high quality autism program. Co-authored by The Shafer Center’s President and Program Director, Helen Shafer and Christine Accardo, the checklist guides parents through the process of finding the right program, and enables them to compare multiple programs, assessing each one’s fit for their child, specifically. Checklist areas of focus include: general questions regarding child-specific needs and program overview; detailed programmatic features; curriculum; available learning tools; personalization and individualized offerings; staff information; parental resources and communication; and learning environment and facility details.
“Parents may oftentimes become overwhelmed when their child receives an autism diagnosis,” said Program Director at The Shafer Center, Christine Accardo, Ph.D., BCBA-D. “With this checklist, we wanted to provide guidance through a difficult time and ensure parents are aware of what we think one needs to look for in autism programming.”
According to CDC statistics released in March 2014, one in 68 children are now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. As the number of autism diagnoses continues to rise (compare statistic to one in 2,000 children diagnosed in 1985), there is a greater need for resources, such as this checklist, and an increased emphasis on developing programs that cater to the specific social, verbal, motor and academic needs of each individual on the spectrum.
“As a parent of a child on the spectrum, I would have greatly appreciated this resource in my own search for autism programming for my son,” said President and Founder of The Shafer Center, Helen Shafer. “When my husband and I received Hayden’s diagnosis, we knew almost nothing about autism spectrum disorder. The checklist would have helped us tremendously in understanding what to look for in an autism program. It’s all about helping parents help their child.”
The “Autism Program Checklist for Parents” is a free resource available to any and all parents in the autism program search. The checklist can be downloaded at www.theshafercenter.com/parents-corner. Please direct all media inquiries to Josie Hankey at 410-420-2001 or by email at Josie.Hankey@FallstonGroup.com.
The Shafer Center for Early Intervention is located in Owings Mills, Md. Children at The Center range in age from two to eight years old. The Shafer Center also provides off-site intervention services for children well into their adolescent years. The Maryland Department of Education has approved The Shafer Center for Early Intervention as a non-public school.
The Shafer Center for Early Intervention knows that being the parent of a child with special needs can be challenging. By being a central resource for families seeking education, assessment and treatment, The Shafer Center replaces fear and uncertainty with hope and knowledge. The Center’s unique approach and methods improve a child’s opportunity to succeed, and in turn, make it a rewarding experience for the entire family. The Shafer Center for Early Intervention accomplishes this by integrating three vital components that make its programs the optimal choice for treating children with autism spectrum disorders:
· A Whole-Child Approach
· A Multi-Disciplinary Team
· A Focus on Maintenance and Generalization of Skills
For more information about The Shafer Center for Early Intervention and its unique environment, visit the Center’s website at www.ShaferCenter.com.