Frequently Asked Questions
Does the school have experience working with students on the Autism Spectrum?
Hopeful Journeys’ mission is to educate students who require an intensive and individualized curriculum utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). While Hopeful Journeys specializes in teaching children with an autism diagnosis, we do currently educate students with other diagnoses that require intensive ABA programming.
How many BCBAs are on staff and dedicated to the program?
Hopeful Journeys prides itself on its ability to provide intensive BCBA oversight and supervision at a low ratio. Our Clinical staff are made up of team BCBAs each with small caseloads that allow them to provide intensive oversite of student programs. We also have BCBAs at the Director and Executive levels to ensure the use of ABA methodology is consistent and school-wide.
What other specialists are on staff?
Our full time on-site specialist staff include Special Education teachers, Speech and Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, and a full time school nurse. In addition, a Physical Therapist provides regular consult to our program. Our program also collaborates with other consultants that provide expert specialty services including feeding specialists, teachers of the visually impaired, visual mobility specialists, and PhD level Board Certified Behavior Analysts.
What is the education level of the direct ABA providers?
Our 1:1 support staff all have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and are directly supervised by team BCBAs. All new staff participate in an intensive three week training series prior to working with students. Training topics include, intro to ABA, task analysis and discrete trial training, incidental teaching, etc. Finally, through a partnership with Endicott College, many of our 1:1 staff are also enrolled in graduate level degree programs for Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education, which are taught on-site at Hopeful Journeys. Graduates of these programs are able to obtain their BCBA and/or Special Education state certification.
Do you utilize Discrete Trial Training?
Yes, we utilize Discrete Trial Training in order to teach a variety of skills. Research has continuously supported the use of discrete trial training in teaching individuals with autism in a structured format. An essential aspect of instruction at Hopeful Journeys is for students to generalize learned skills to new locations, across stimuli, and within multiple contexts. Discrete trial training not only targets skill acquisition in a classroom setting, but includes the ultimate goal of displaying mastery of learned skills across settings.
How are the Discrete Trials delivered?
Discrete trials are delivered in a 1:1 format. Students do their discrete trial work at their desks. Depending on the students, the classroom sizes range from 1-4 students in a room but each student has their individual workspace where they access their individualized curriculum.
What is the Staff to Student Ratio?
All students who attend Hopeful Journeys are staffed in a 1:1 staff-to-student ratio. Even while completing social skills groups and community skills, student continue to have access to 1:1s to assist in generalizing educational opportunities. Having a 1:1 staff available to each of our students does not change our overall goal of eliminating the need for prompting, and increasing independence for all of our students to the greatest degree possible.
How often do they go into the community? Is it 1:1?
The frequency and location of community trips are tailored specifically to each student’s individual needs. Hopeful Journeys believes that repetition and practice of developing skills is essential for success, and community skills are taught on an individual basis after a decision has been made between families and the school team. Students will continue to be staffed in a 1:1 ratio but will generally go out in small groups of at least two peers and their staff in the community.
Where do they go into the community?
Due to the individualized nature of our program and our 1:1 staffing ratio, we are extremely flexible in the locations that we go to. We work with families to determine community locations that provide the best learning environment based on social needs, frequented locations that may evoke problem behavior with family, family exposure to programs, as well as generalizing goal areas. Some examples of current community locations include: ice skating, swimming, restaurant trips, mall trips, fairs, parks, grocery stores, medical appointments, haircuts, dental visits, pet stores, art studios, and mini-golf.
What does the vocational program consist of?
Our vocational program has both on-site and off-site programming. On-site vocational jobs include a variety of tasks that provide students a direct opportunity to make a difference within our school. Examples of on-site vocational jobs includes running Hopeful Journeys’ school store, completing recycling, various clerical work, food prep, cleaning tasks, delivery tasks, and assembly/building skills. Our students also participate in several off-site vocational opportunities including various tasks at a pizza parlor, a local mortgage company, court clerk, animal shelter, and an art studio.
How are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) taught?
Activities of Daily Living or Self-help skills are currently taught in a task analysis format (breaking down a complex sequence of skills into smaller steps). Skills taught include tooth brushing, face washing, hand washing, shaving, showering, and other hygiene skills.
Does Hopeful Journeys have experience with AAC devices?
Our Speech Pathologists are well versed in using AAC devices. They will set up the initial device, train staff, and then have carryover with families during monthly consults. The speech pathologist trains all staff to ensure that the students are using their devices appropriately. Currently, our students use Autismate, Tap to Talk, Proloquo to Go, My Talk Tools, and Touchchat. We also have students using Novachat devices.
How are social skills taught? Is it in small group? What activities are utilized to support social skills?
Social Skills are initially taught in a 1:1 discrete trial format. Students are also able to join a social skills group with peers in order to practice skills in context. Social skills are taught throughout the day with all skills being tracked on an hourly basis. Social opportunities include: morning meeting, science group, book club, snack and lunch pairings, community trips, speech groups, and OT groups.
Do you teach students leisure skills?
Leisure skills are taught on an individual basis. Such skills include basic computer skills, picture activity schedules, sports skills, and independent play skills.
How are Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy Services provided?
Following initial assessments, the SLP determines the amount of Speech and Language services the student will receive. Hopeful Journeys provides a unique model in which 1:1 staff, BCBAs, and other team members collaborate with the speech and language pathologist through a consult model. This particular model allows the speech and language pathologist to write individualized programming based on the students’ IEP goals, train all staff on how to accurately implement the programming, address any concerns with specific programs, and to make certain that programs are being run correctly and in an effective manner by providing immediate feedback and correction. The use of a consult model allows for flexibility with student scheduling to ensure that speech programs are run daily at a time that is most conducive to student learning. In addition, running language and pragmatic (the use of social language) programs daily with multiple teachers promotes multiple trials and incidental teaching opportunities to facilitate generalization. Collaboration is a huge factor in ensuring that students are receiving quality and individualized treatment across various communication partners.
OT services are provided in a consult model with the OT writing and implementing OT programming and ensuring staff are trained to run the program throughout the day. PT is through an off-site consult. The PT comes weekly to check in on specific student progress based on their consultation time and work with staff to ensure that students are making appropriate progress.