START Connecting Articles

Back to School

Back to School Fall 2020: Persisting in a Pandemic

This week is the official start of the fall season. It is usually the time when kids are settling into school, the leaves turn colors, football is in full swing, and the hunt for pumpkins begins. Here at START, we attend the kick off RCN meetings, prepare for the first intensive training modules, and finalize the agenda for the November RCN leadership meeting. This school year will...

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Padlet 101

Staying Connected and Engaged During Times of Distance

One of the most difficult aspects of social distancing is being socially distant. During the school year, we work hard to help students be connected with each other and engaged in their school community. When students are at home, whether it is due to COVID or the break of summer this becomes more difficult. Families become tasked with taking a larger role in helping....

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Children running

ASD and Siblings

Each child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unique in personality, abilities, and challenges. ASD presents in a wide variety of ways with varying levels of impact on communication, social interactions, and behavior. While ASD affects the individual, it also has an impact on family dynamics. This is especially true for sibling relationships. Brothers and sisters with or without ASD have distinct ways....

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Phil Callaway Quote

A Reflection & Response to COVID-19

I am starting this article with a phrase we have heard repeatedly over the past two weeks - we are living in unprecedented times. Although this is true, it is a statement that hardly conveys the magnitude or impact of this situation on individual lives and communities. In this present moment, we can only see snapshots of all the ways this is impacting people. This is a difficult time...

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Remember self-advocacy! This topic was presented at the Fall RCN Leadership Day and we want to recap how important it is to be mindful of self-advocacy across all ages and environments. Self-advocacy is simply defined as being able to communicate for yourself about the things that are important to you, asking for what you need and want, telling others about your thoughts and feelings...

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Promoting Engagement in Preschool Classrooms

Promoting Engagement in Preschool Classrooms

Engagement is critical for all students, whether they have disabilities or not, but it can be especially important for young students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) since these children may not readily learn from observing others, and often have challenges related to motivation, attention, and understanding expectations...

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State Funded Initiative: Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF)

State Funded Initiative: Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF) 

The Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF) is a statewide parent resource agency supporting families of children with disabilities and their involvement in their child’s education. MAF maintains regional parent mentors across Michigan who themselves have a family member with a disability. Every staff member...

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Practical Functional Assessment  and Skill-Based Treatment of Problem Behavior

Practical Functional Assessment and Skill-Based Treatment of Problem Behavior

The work of Gregory Hanley, Ph.D., BCBA-D and his colleagues at FTF Behavior Consulting is dedicated to disseminating safe and efficient functional assessment procedures that inform highly effective and humane treatments for problem behavior of persons with autism and intellectual disabilities (ID).  

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Assessing Effective Classroom Supports for Students with Higher Support Needs 

A classroom is like a student’s home at school. It is the place where they not only receive their core academic instruction but it also provides predictable structure to the day. How the classroom environment is designed, the ways in which adults and peers interact with each other, and the clarity of expectations and routines set the stage for a positive, or sometimes not so positive learning experience...

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FAPE in the LRE

Fape in the LRE: The New Bloodborne Pathogens

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is a foundation of special education. It is important that all school professionals and family members understand these terms in order to support students with disabilities. This is why we recommend that administrators, general and special education teachers, and itinerant and ancillary staff receive information and training about FAPE in the LRE...

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Social Thinking Logo

Social Thinking

What does it mean to teach “social skills”? Ask 10 people and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. There appears to be no collective agreement as to how to define it. You might notice that people tend to define what they can observe. As a result, treatment tends to focus on teaching a defined social behavior that an individual is expected to demonstrate without learning to problem solve when and why to use this skill. 

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ASD State Plan Infographic

Michigan ASD State Plan 2018 Progress Review and Recommendations: A Call to Action

The Michigan ASD State Plan 2018 Progress Review and Recommendations is available. You could easily decide that this is a state level document with a lot of information that is not particularly relevant to the average professional, provider, family member, or community member.

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Child Writing

Paraprofessionals as Independence Facilitators: Modeling for 5:1

When determining the need for paraprofessional support, it is critical to design a plan that focuses on independence since this is a primary goal for all students. A good place to start involves giving paraprofessionals a new title; we suggest calling them Independence Facilitators...
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Hamilton Peer to Peer

Peer LINKS, Elective Credit, and Pupil Accounting  

A Peer to Peer program is a strategy for providing ongoing support and modeling by a peer to peer support student (called a LINK for the purposes of this document) to a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Peer to Peer programming is considered an evidence-based practice...
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Meeting Mechanics Manual

Effective Teaming and Meeting Mechanics Resource Manual: Tools to Improve Meeting Processes 

Meetings are an important part of sharing information and making decisions that help us capitalize on the strengths and experiences of a group of people with common goals. The most efficient and effective meetings adhere to a defined process and agreed upon guidelines that the group follows...
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The PEERS Approach to Social Skills Training

The PEERS® Approach to Social Skills Training

We all need social skills to get along with others, negotiate the school years, make friends, and relate to others at our job. For individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), understanding social behavior and using social skills is often a challenge, making it difficult to navigate many social settings...
Read more about The PEERS® Approach to Social Skills Training