Eden Institute (School Age 3-21 Years)
School Program : EDEN INSTITUTE
Eden’s founding program provides year round educational services for children and adolescents with autism, ages 3-21.
Teaching techniques are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and each student’s curriculum is individualized to his or her specific needs and abilities based on annual assessments.
The student-teacher ratio at Eden schools ranges from 1:1 to 3:1 and is determined by each student’s learning style and skills. Classroom instruction is provided in the same student-teacher ratios, along with small groups to facilitate peer interaction. Students are also offered opportunities for integration into less restrictive settings at all age levels, as appropriate for each student.
Each of the classroom programs is staffed by one or more certified teachers of the handicapped, along with a number of primary therapists, dependent upon the current number of students in that classroom. Ancillary staff includes certified speech pathologists, adaptive physical education teachers, a certified counselor and school nurses.
Students are placed in and progress through the Eden school programs according to age and skill level. At the start of the school year, each student’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is reviewed and revised, in cooperation with parents and sending school district child study teams, to incorporate specific and individual program goals for the year ahead.
The Early Childhood Program focuses on basic self-care and learning readiness skills, as well as language development and pre-academics, with the ultimate goal of preparing the child for all later learning.
The Middle Childhood Program continues this individualized instruction, continuing pre-academics and language development and expanding the child’s learning into pre-vocational skills and beginning independent living skills.
The Transition Program is for students who have demonstrated an ability to work in a small group setting. In Transition, independent work is supplemented by small group instruction in areas of academic and interactive language social skills. When appropriate, students who excel in this setting can be integrated into programs in their local school district.
The High School 1,2 and 3 Programs provide learning experiences preparing students for the skills they will eventually need at graduation. These skills may range from basic communication, daily living and functional academics. Students may also focus on clerical skills and community-based work/study programs. Included in Eden’s High School programs is Intro to Vocations. This program provides instructional hands on experience in Eden’s school store and cooking program.
The following supplemental services are provided to Eden students in conjunction with their classroom programs:
The Speech, Language and Communication Program helps students develop individualized, pragmatic communication skills through the use of verbal language, sign language, simultaneous communication (pairing verbal and sign language) or augmentative communication systems. The latter include picture exchange communication systems, language boards or computerized voice output systems.
All students receive Adaptive Physical Education on a daily basis. During group sessions, the students work on gross motor activities, range of motion and pre-sport skills. Older students are able to utilize a weight room where they can build up their cardiovascular fitness skills and other gross motor activities. Younger students receive individual PE sessions, where they work on a variety of fine motor tasks along with sensorimotor and vestibular processing skills. All Adapted Physical Education activities are IEP goals within each student’s program.
The After-School Program extends the day-school curriculum by providing constructive educational and recreational activities for Eden students during the hours between the end of the school day and the standard workday. Activities are all IEP driven and can vary from: arts and crafts, music, sports and community outings.
Students in all programs participate in frequent community experiences. Tailored to age level, these provide real-life opportunities to practice, develop and generalize social and behavioral skills.
Student outings range from shopping trips to purchase classroom items, grocery shopping, ordering meals in a restaurant or movie trips. The high school students may also participate in job placements in the community, where they can continue to practice their pre-employment skills in a real world setting. The focus of all community outings is for students to practice the skills acquired within their classrooms into a variety of community settings.
Eden Institute students also participate in community activities that combine learning and giving. Collecting canned goods for a holiday food drive, gathering Toys for Tots and making Valentines for patients at a nearby medical center are among the ways Eden students learn to contribute to their communities. Locally, for example, students visit parks or indoor play areas for recreational outings, while visits to grocery stores, take-out restaurants, the post office or a drugstore provide practical types of community interactions. Longer travels may be to the Jersey Shore, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Williamsburg or other such destinations that offer a good combination of learning and fun!
Eden offers a Parent and Family Support Program designed to educate and assist families through parent training, home visits and support groups. Initial training for new families provides an overview of Eden’s curriculum so that parents can continue the curriculum at home. Training will coincide with monthly home visits, where parents select goals and the home consultant works with the family to help achieve them. The intent of the family support program is to empower the family and provide the training for the skills needed to work with their child at home.
Lectures and workshops on a variety of topics pick up where training leaves off, addressing issues of particular interest and significance to families of children with autism.
For home support, experienced Eden staff are assigned to families as consultants, meeting monthly or as needed in the home to establish effective routines and work on specific, mutually agreed-upon goals. School visits for parents, siblings and members of the child’s extended family are scheduled throughout the year, and parent and sibling support groups are also offered.
Intended as a “break” for families, the Respite Program sends a trained Eden therapist into the home for a specified number of hours each month. Respite gives parents time to run errands, schedule appointments and focus on their other children or, perhaps, simply the chance for a night out. As part of the Respite Program, individual goals are established to guide each family in learning to live effectively with a child who has autism.
An Emergency Family Support Program is similar to respite, but provided on a short-term, immediate need basis. Essentially “crisis respite,” this program steps in to provide the necessary care for an Eden student when his or her parents face a family emergency.
Extended School Year Programs
Eden believes that it is essential for students with autism to continue their curriculum and skill development year-round. To this end, Eden offers two components of the extended school day programming — a day program, as well as a residential camp program for older students
The Extended School Year Day Program is a seven-week session during which students continue to address the goals specified in their IEP. All services remain the same, with students continuing to receive speech and language, along with adaptive physical education. There are also additional opportunities for the students to participate in swimming lessons, along with other summertime community and recreational activities.
Eden at Crossroads Summer Residential Program offers students a multi-week experience. During their time at the program, students focus on maintaining and developing the pre-academic, academic, speech and language and self-care skills that are part of their day program back home, while also pursuing such activities as swimming, hiking, nature walks and community outings. Students are supervised at all times by a staff of certified special education teachers and camp counselors; lifeguards and registered nurses are also on duty.