Student Spotlight: Matthew
When his bus doors open at the curb of the Learning Academy after an early morning ride, Matthew greets his teacher with a smile and a hand wave. To the ordinary eye, Matthew’s gesture looks like a simple greeting or hello to his teacher. If you really know Matthew, you know that he is not waving to say hello. He is waving to communicate “play”. As a non-verbal communicator, this is one of the many adaptive language signs that Matthew has learned to express, but this was not always the case.
By the time Matthew was 7 years old, he had been unsuccessful in several classrooms and schools. His only means of communication and effective expression was challenging behavior that brought him in to contact with things that he wanted or needed. By using severe self-injurious behavior and intense physical agression towards others, Matthew was able to get his needs met. His future looked grim, especially to his family who could not enjoy life experiences together due to Matthew’s challenges.
After strong advocacy from his father, Matthew started attending the Learning Academy in 2010. His teachers identified targeted behaviors, carefully chose crucial functional replacement skills, and diligently taught these to Matthew. Three years later, Matthew is a different child at both school and at home. He happily runs from his bus to school, smiling and laughing with the willingness to start his day. He communicates using sign language, picture symbols and most recently has begun to master augmentative communication. More importantly, Matthew is able to access things that he enjoys such as swimming, recreation at the park and eating at restaurants. Today Matthew is pairing good behavior and communication with access to what makes him happy, and learning some great skills along the way. The future looks bright!
About The Learning Academy
The Learning Academy is a non-public school that serves individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. The school is certified by the Department of Education for students 6 to 22 years of age. The program is designed to meet the needs of students ages 6-22 years with significant behavioral and learning challenges. Upon admission, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst conducts a Functional Assessment and develops a Behavior Intervention Plan that addresses the student’s behavioral needs. Functional communication is taught and reinforcement based programs are designed according to student need/ preference.
Each student’s schedule is specifically designed for him/her—we know from experience that no one strategy or approach works for everyone. Student’s are provided with 1:1 instruction with the ultimate goal of fading that instruction to whole- group integration. The program includes instruction in academics, applied academics, communication, vocational, social and daily living skills; designed and implemented by highly-qualified certified teachers. Services in Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy are provided in accordance with the student’s IEP. Enrichment activities include music therapy, equestrian therapy, relaxation therapy and staff run clubs that promote student interaction based on like interests. Students at the Learning Academy are on track for a Certificate of Completion.
- Students receive an individualized Behavior Intervention (Plan that addresses the student’s behavioral needs)
- Functional Assessment/Behavior Intervention plan conducted by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst
- Strong empasis on Communication/Augmentative Communication
- Rich staffing ratio/Highly qualified teachers
- Community integration/Access to community
- Programs to support transition
Learning Academy Director
Pat Friedman first became interested in Special Education during college when she started working at a group home for children with developmental disabilities. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. She moved to San Diego in 1988 and worked for the Arc of San Diego for 19 years. At Arc, Pat served as Director of ICF/DD-H Operations, overseeing 13 group homes, with 78 residents and 120 staff. In 2007, Pat was hired by Area Board XIII, the Office of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities and worked on the Life Quality Assesment project. Pat joined the Teri team in 2010 as the Director of the Learning Academy. As Director, Pat is amazed at the progress she sees on a daily basis with the students. Pat values greatly the importance of listening to individuals and families to determine the best way to provide quality services.
The Learning Academy Address:
3225 Roymar Road
Oceanside, CA 92058
Fax (760) 231-5574