A foundation of the LINK Program includes a triangular exchange of communication between the
LINK student, student with ASD, and the medium of exchange.
The medium of exchange is critical because it provides a neutral
focus between the student with ASD and the LINK student. Often,
students with ASD do not understand the social workings involved in
interaction with others. The medium of exchange eliminates the
awkwardness of the interaction. The purpose of the interaction is
clear. The medium of exchange demystifies the ASD allowing the two
students to remain engaged with each other while interacting.
The medium of exchange works differently for each student with ASD.
The medium is based upon the student’s strengths, challenges, and the
impact of the ASD. It is important to remember you are always working
off a three pronged approach with every student and the environment
must be organized. There must be a purpose to the activities that are
occurring and to what the students are expected to accomplish.
There is an expectation that these activities are going to be a
cooperative venture in order to accomplish the goals of everyone
involved. This is a philosophical departure from traditional programs
for students with ASD, which function under a top-down teacher to
student responsibility. The major difference is that a cooperative
venture communicates a sense of responsibility among the LINK students
as they interact with the student with ASD, not only accomplishing
specific tasks, but also a generalizing social interactions beyond the classroom.
The primary medium of exchange is the general education curriculum
since both populations of students have access to the general
education curriculum. To ensure the student with ASD engages in the
general education curriculum, the general education curriculum will be differentiated.
At the elementary level, students are more likely to see their
friends through the lens of what they have in common. Sharing those
commonalities make for a point of entry into relationship building.
The Self-Advocacy section provides examples for students to open the
door for sharing information with the whole class.