Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Idaho classroom a state-of-the-art aid for students with autism


It's estimated 1 in 150 children will be diagnosed with autism. One East Idaho school district has dedicated a state-of-the-art classroom to those students, allowing them an unusual approach to education.

Discover Elementary School in District 93 has come up with a totally new and innovative way to teach their students with autism by getting them above a classroom rather than in a classroom. It may look like a gym class to some, but for students with autism, it's a state-of-the-art way to learn, in a state-of-the-art classroom.

Wendy Landon, School Psychologist: "Students with disabilities require more multi-sensory activities."

That's why educators within this specially-made classroom are ditching the pencil and paper and instead grabbing helmets and ropes.

Brian Olson, Occupational Therapist: "The idea behind it was to think out of the box." The 40-foot climbing wall, which is the only one of its kind in Eastern Idaho, engages students in a number of different ways, allowing the students to not only learn to trust the person on the other end of the rope, but also work on fine motor skills.

Brian Olson, Occupational Therapist: "We're using their vision; we're using their auditory senses to follow directions, motor planning skills."

Lindsay Stauffer, Teacher: "They have this sense of trust with us. That they know we'll be there to hold them and to guide them and that has carried over to the rest of the environment."

The wall is multi-faceted teaching tool, meaning teachers are able to integrate the wall into daily teaching, be it spelling or even math, giving these students a literal leg-up on their education.

The school district has submitted a grant to the CHC Foundation which will more than likely cover the cost of that wall. The installation was done by a volunteer contractor.