A group of interventions that prevent challenging behaviors is called "universal supports" (i.e. "frontloading the environment). For students with ASD, these supports include visual schedules and supports, peer to peer support, functional communication training, positive behavioral interventions, utilizing student interests in activities and academics, and academic differentiation. Implementing these supports with fidelity reduces or eliminates the majority of challenging behaviors for students with ASD and prevents the need for crisis intervention.
Age-appropriate social skills develop with social opportunities and participation in integrated environments. Social interaction occurs in a context, not as isolated skills. Learning social skills in integrated settings with peers leads to natural experiences, real world feedback, and, most of all, friendships.
This START-ism ensures that information and decisions are founded in the requirements set forth by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), the research literature on evidence-based practices, and individual student or system data.
When students have an intense interest or fascination, we use it to their advantage. Rather than viewing it as an obsession or a hindrance, it is understood that it drives motivation. Interests are integrated into learning and self-management systems and students learn where and when they can access preferred interests and activities.
New research and learning opportunities are ongoing, so we are continually discovering new ways to work with students and families. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for what we did in the past with good intentions. However once we know different, it is our responsibility to make changes that reflect what is evidence-based and best practice.