ABOUT OUR ORGANIZATION
Alternative Teaching Strategy Center is a non-profit NPA (non-public agency) registered with the California Department of Education. We work directly with parents, School Districts and other State Agencies and provide one-on-one services to children and adults with autism. We also actively pursue donations and grants in order to support our mission.
The Center was started by parents of high school and adult autistic children. We were disillusioned with the way our children were being taught and resented the fact that they were relegated to the “severe” classes to be taught functional skills. What began as an experiment in 2006 has evolved into a fully-fledged curriculum and methodology for teaching visual learners. With the help of School Districts, Speech Therapists, Special Education Teachers, high functioning adults with autism and other experts we created Visual Communication Analysis, a new way to teach autistic children and adults.
Teaching children with Autism successfully requires teachers who are energetic, motivated, and ready to expect the unexpected. Until you really get to know a child, you do not know what they are capable of, their level of performance, or what type of behaviors that may come about.
A snapshot of a few hours of a child’s work during an assessment is not a true indication of the child’s capabilities. In our opinion, there are currently no valid assessments for non-verbal autistic kids. All the current tests have been normalized for speaking children and do not take in to account the abilities of autistic kids to discriminate between the most minute detail in pictures.
There is no set curriculum for kids who are not in general education. The professionals have no expectations of them completing high school and so these children are left behind. We believe that each child should be encouraged to reach their full potential and that there should be no artificial barriers placed in their way. Our kids should be afforded the same opportunity as typical children in that their curriculum ought to include the full array of academic subjects offered to any and all students regardless of their being on a graduation track or a certificate-of-completion track.
Currently, many professionals in the educational field are taught that parents of autistic kids are unstable and have psychological issues themselves. We believe in taking the power back. We know our kids best and know that they are capable. All our therapists are taught that the success of the child is paramount. In order to determine a child’s current level, we begin testing at the level the parents tell us and go from there to get a more complete picture of the level. The rest of the industry starts at “ground zero” and goes forward to find the child’s level. We do this in order to minimize the child’s frustration at having to repeat the simplest answers ad nauseam. There are many documented cases of autistic children who withdrew when faced with extreme repetition of simplistic concepts.