START Connecting Articles



Preschool Life Skills (PLS): Teaching Foundational Behaviors for School Success

Do your preschoolers share with other children? Do they consistently look when a teacher calls their name? What about asking for help or following directions? Many children need explicit instruction and multiple practice opportunities to learn these skills, especially as they prepare for kindergarten. To teach these skills and set up a successful classroom environment, it is useful to have a systematic program for teaching, modeling, practicing, and reinforcing these foundational skills...

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Peer to Peer and Unified Champion Schools Collaboration

How do you create a culture in your school that promotes friendships and inclusiveness for all students 365 days a year? A collaboration between START’s Peer to Peer and Special Olympics’ Unified Champion Schools (UCS) is a powerful resource that accomplishes all of those goals. While the strategy of the two evidence-based programs varies, the outcomes of the programs are the same.

Read more about a collaboration between Peer to Peer and UCS...

Transition Planning for Autistic Adolescents and Young Adults

Intentional planning and preparation for the future can result in more positive outcomes for autistic youth transitioning to adulthood (Test et al., 2020). This is a multi-faceted process that takes place over time versus discrete events and involves the student, family, educational IEP team, community agencies, and other professionals. 

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Inclusion and Advocacy Resources for April and Beyond

April is Autism month when we focus on Acceptance, Advocacy, and Action. In anticipation of April and the various activities acknowledging autism, we asked colleagues, friends, and community partners from across the state to share their favorite books, podcasts, websites, and videos about autism, specifically by, about, and for people with autism... 

Read more about inclusion and advocacy resources


Behavioral Expectations for Early Childhood Classrooms

What if we told you there is a universal strategy that is beneficial for all children in an early childhood setting that is relatively simple to implement and we have a set of materials available to get started? This approach has plenty of research to support its effectiveness, and by using this approach, children will learn routines and rules that will follow them into their school years...

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Behavioral Skills Training (BST): A Strategy for Training and Coaching

Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is an evidence-based package to systematically train and coach a wide range of skills. The literature on this evidence-based strategy is quite broad and demonstrates effectiveness for children and adults across many skills, and may be used individually or in a group format. What are the components of BST? While simple in concept, there is planning involved along with decisions at each step of BST that will make it more or less effective...

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Peer to Peer Support is a Participation Model

Whether you’ve supported a Peer to Peer program for one semester, or for multiple years, you have undoubtedly seen the powerful impact on relationships, school culture and lived experiences. As we approach the new semester, this might be an opportunity for school teams to reflect on their Peer to Peer programs and move toward a stronger participation model. The participation model shifts from a helping approach...

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Introducing Holly Miller: Autistic Self-Advocate

Hello, my name is Holly Miller. I am an autistic self-advocate from Grand Rapids and consultant for the START ASD 365 campaign. Here is my story. In May 1997, the moment my parents were told by the doctor that I was autistic, my mother was in disbelief. They told her I may graduate from high school, but I would never go to college. Furthermore, they said, “She will also never fall in love, get married, or have kids of her own, and she would most likely live in a group home for the rest of her life...”

Read more about Holly Miller.


Girls with Autism: We have so much to learn

Girls with autism are amazing and unique in their own ways, just like boys with autism. They have strengths and challenges, just like boys. However, their autism manifests in ways that can be quite different from boys. Much of the research on autism has focused on boys, and therefore the criteria used for diagnosis is based primarily on that research. Since the diagnostic criteria does not include traits and behaviors...

Read more about girls with autism.

ASD 365: Inclusion & Equity Every Day 

The START ASD 365: Inclusion and Equity Every Day campaign was formed in the spring of 2021 in response to the need for greater intention regarding neurodiversity, inclusivity, equality, and acceptance of autistic individuals as part of our society. Individuals with disabilities, including ASD, have often been marginalized and face barriers with some of the most basic human rights...

Read more about the ASD 365 campaign.

Welcome Back!

We hope your return to school has been smooth and filled with many positive moments, even amidst this complex transition for school staff, students, and families. We know some of you spent last year in your school building teaching face-to-face, while others had frequent vacillations between face-to-face and remote learning, and still others taught virtually for the entire academic year...

Read more about START's welcome back

START-isms: Values to Guide our Work

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we are debuting our updated START-isms. What are “-isms”? They are “concise and forcefully expressive phrases” (Oxford Languages online dictionary). So, what are START-isms? They are pithy phrases that represent the values that guide our work. As you explore the START-isms on our website, you will see classics that you have heard many times while others are new or refreshed... 

Read more about the START-isms


When Words Matter

Beginning in the 1970s, Autism Awareness week was a way to raise awareness about autism at a time when the known prevalence of autism was 1 in 2,500 and it was considered an uncommon childhood disorder. Eventually, Autism Awareness month and World Autism Day were established to continue the effort to increase awareness. Fast forward to 2021, and so much has changed about our understanding of autism...

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Empower One, Empower ALL: Creating a Peer to Peer Culture One Classroom at a Time

For the past twenty years, START has supported the development of Peer to Peer programs around the state. We have observed the magic that results when peers are together building authentic friendships in classrooms and schools, and we have seen firsthand the benefits of these programs for both students with ASD and their peers when programs...

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We can't say it enough - Use evidence-based practices!

For students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the research literature is clear about the importance of using evidence-based practices and professional judgement to systematically address learning and behavior support needs, while also respecting the strengths and preferences of the individual and the family. Collecting and evaluating data assures interventions are effective in developing social...

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Supporting Families at Home with PBIS

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many public schools across Michigan were not able to offer a full-time return to face-to-face learning in the fall. Depending on each district’s circumstances various models or a combination of models were offered including all face-to-face learning, all online learning, or a hybrid approach. In an effort to assist families supporting their children with learning at home...

Read more about supporting families at home with PBIS




Page last modified September 19, 2022