START Connecting Articles

Learning from the Pandemic: Creative Approaches to Peer to Peer

When unexpected situations arise, it creates opportunities to adjust our practices and work in new ways. Although the pandemic presented many hardships for schools, students, and staff, the challenges inspired innovation and tenacity in an attempt to persevere and maintain important connections. This was especially true of peer engagement among students with and without disabilities...

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Revealing the Double Empathy Problem

At age 2, my son’s first words didn’t seem to “stick.” He wasn’t imitating speech sounds, and his response to his name became less reliable. During the preschool years, his teachers noted his solitary play, difficulty sitting for circle time, and sensitivity to the feel of sunscreen and certain types of clothing. As a speech-language pathologist, I knew these observations were consistent with autism, but I resisted the diagnosis...

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Collaborative Planning for Inclusive Lessons

When we support students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) in the Least Restrictive Environment, we are committed to identifying opportunities for meaningful engagement with general education content. Intentional, systematic planning is needed to ensure all students, including those with extensive support needs, are active members of the classroom with authentic opportunities to learn alongside peers... 

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Behavioral Response Scripts: Whose Line is it?

Did you know that approximately ⅔ of the content on the nine major streaming platforms is scripted programming? Yet many of us still enjoy a good unscripted program, like House Hunters or Real Housewives. Why do we like unscripted TV? Is it because of the voyeuristic nature of watching a couple decide which home to buy or to escape our day-to-day reality and see how the “other half” lives? Maybe! Unscripted shows have a time and place, but not at school...

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Regional Collaborative Networks: Creating Stronger Communities to Support Students

When the START Project launched in 2001, we wondered how a small team of START staff could address the needs of students with autism in a large, diverse state. As we connected with ISDs and districts across the state, we immediately knew that our best hope of supporting students with autism in every part of Michigan was by working regionally with the staff and administrators embedded in schools. They were our best resource as they knew their communities, students, and families best...

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Resource Feature: Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT)

This is the 25th anniversary of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), an organization and website dedicated to helping individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) access effective and ethical interventions that are supported by scientific evidence. ASAT is a not-for-profit organization committed to disseminating evidence-based information and advocating for the use of scientific methods to guide decision-making and combat inaccurate information about interventions...

Read more about ASAT.

iQuest: Begin your Independence Quest

START is happy to introduce the iQuest, or independence Quest! The iQuest is an electronic and updated version of the Passport. The Passport was designed as a physical booklet, where teams and families identified relevant independence and self-advocacy goals by grade level and tracked them. While the Passport helped schools and families address important, age-appropriate independence skills, we received feedback...

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LRE and Belonging Practices Across the Lifespan

To create inclusive environments that foster belonging, we can no longer consider it standard practice for students, from early childhood to adulthood, to be removed from their natural settings because of a label, test scores, behavior, or ways of communicating (Taub, 2021). IDEA indicates a strong preference for educating children with disabilities in regular classes alongside their peers without disabilities in the definition of Least Restrictive Environment.

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What’s happening in ‘23-24!

With so many schools starting at different times, we know some of you have been in school for nearly a month while others are just getting started. Wherever you are in the schedule - welcome back! We are eager to reconnect through trainings, Communities of Practice (CoP), Regional Collaborative Network (RCN) meetings, and various projects. 

Read more about what’s happening in ‘23-24!

Peer to Peer 2.0: Level Up!

In March 2023, we held our first Peer to Peer 2.0: Level Up training. Peer to Peer 2.0 emerged from a desire to communicate updated resources and content to established teams, dive deeper into advanced Peer to Peer content, and offer the opportunity for teams across the state to network and share ideas. We want to share exciting information about the next level of Peer to Peer...

Read more about Peer to Peer 2.0. 

Promoting Inclusion and Belonging Everyday

Inclusion is a word that can evoke various images and meanings to each one of us. Meaningful inclusion is demonstrated when people with disabilities are involved in natural, everyday activities and given opportunities to be involved in ways similar to their peers who do not have a disability. First and foremost, inclusion is a human right. Everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability, deserves access to full participation in the community, including education...

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A Joint Statement on the Use of Prompting

Prompting is a tool for teaching that may be used to assist anyone learning a skill. It is especially important for learners who may need additional cues to accelerate learning and reduce errors and frustration. Imagine a student who is interested in using an iPad app for communication. During acquisition, circumstances are created to foster engagement and motivate communication.

Read the Joint Statement on the Use of Prompting

Transition: Empowering Students through Self-Determination

Student empowerment is important for all students, with and without disabilities, for achieving greater independence. It involves helping students make choices and decisions that prepare them for the transition out of high school and to adulthood. I’m Determined is a comprehensive resource with tools and supports to promote self-determination with students from early childhood through young adulthood.

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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Schools: Supporting Students with Autism within a Tiered Approach

Numerous evidenced-based interventions have been derived from the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and used to support learners both with and without IEPs, across the school day. In this article, we highlight ways that ABA practices may support behavior change through: 1) Tier I (universal) support for all learners in a school, and 2) Tier II (targeted) and Tier III (intensive) behavior change strategies for specific learner needs.

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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in Schools:  Understanding the Fundamentals to Effectively Use ABA

Fundamentally, evidence-based instruction and behavior support have a basis in ABA. Using behavior analysis involves systematically planning and delivering interventions while collecting and visually analyzing data to make decisions about the effectiveness of the interventions being implemented. 

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Be There For Each Other Through Coaching

What is the key to high-performing teams, especially during times of physical and emotional exhaustion? According to Simon Sinek, “It’s their willingness to be there for each other.” At START, we view coaching as an important way to “be there for each other” as we work together to implement the evidence-based practices that are essential for students with autism and other support needs...

Read more about coaching.

Page last modified May 20, 2024