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Structured Teaching is the implementation of four structural strategies used to improve independence, increase engagement and enhance receptive communication skills in the classroom. The use of these visually based structural strategies capitalizes on the strengths of students diagnosed with autism and relies on an extensive understanding and appreciation of the characteristics of ASD. All of our classrooms implement, with fidelity, these structural strategies. This ensures the learning environment is more comprehensible, promotes active learning, motivates students, encourages productive work habits, and supports the generalization of skills. The structured classroom environment allows our teachers to transform individualized curriculums, instructional activities and independent tasks into concrete teaching tools. In return, these tools will support the executive functioning skills of our students. The long term goal is to develop learners who are as independent as possible when they leave The Timothy School.
Our classrooms are physically designed to visually clarify the behavioral expectations for the students. The classroom setup minimizes competing visual and auditory distractions and assists our students to look for pertinent information, rather than irrelevant details. The environment visually communicates both the expectations of the student and what the student can expect from the instructional staff in each instructional area. This highly structured environment leads to more “on-task” behavior and overall achievement.
The use of a visual schedule clarifies “when” and “where” the student should be at any given time of the school day. It visually communicates the sequence of events and where these events will take place. The schedule teaches the students flexibility by creating a consistent routine, by which the student receives pertinent information. In turn, this will make any impending changes during the day more predictable.
Once individualized schedules provide the students the information of “when” and “where” they should be, the work system provides the “what to do” when they arrive at the specific destination. This system visually clarifies the work expectations and the instructions necessary to independently complete assigned activities. Using the work system, our students learn to independently complete a sequence of tasks and then move on to the next activity. Once the student learns to use the work system independently, our staff will use this strategy to generalize skills to a variety of learning environments, including the home and community.
Visual Structure/Visual Highlighting
The highly structured classroom environment uses visual structure and visual highlighting to clarify and highlight pertinent information while teaching daily functional routines. Once the student learns these routines, this visual support is then blended into the natural environment. The goal is to ensure independence of skills.
The Timothy School serves students with autism spectrum disorders, ages 5-21. Students come from school districts in Berks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.
Our class sizes range from 3-6 students and typically have a 2:1 student to staff ratio.
Parents who are Pennsylvania residents do not pay tuition for their child to attend The Timothy School. A child’s placement in our school meets state and federal requirements for a “free and appropriate public school education” (FAPE). The responsibility for tuition costs are assumed by the student’s resident school district with state funding provided to the district when available.
Students are transported to and from Timothy School by their school district of residence via bus, van, or cab.
The Timothy School accepts referrals throughout the school year on a rolling admissions basis. If there is an appropriate opening that may meet the needs of the student, the intake team will proceed with the process. If there are no openings, the school district and parents may request the school contact them should openings become available; however, a formal waiting list is not kept due to the age range openings that may or may not occur.