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 where they are only taught functional skills, nothing academic and no learning. The professionals only fixate on behaviors and not on teaching as they believe that you cannot teach unless you have controlled the behaviors. We believe that once you teach the child to communicate, the behaviors subside.
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.
All our therapists are taught that the success of the child is paramount. In order to determine a child’s current level, we begin teaching and monitor if the child is learning and how much information the child retains. 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.
When your child is first diagnosed with autism, the professionals tell you to leave it up to them, they know what to do. They effectively disable the parents. We believe in taking the power back. We need to be responsible as parents. We need to “undisable” the parents.