One major deficit that children on the autism spectrum (or other related disorders) have is inappropriate or lack of skills to interact and behave appropriately in social settings. For most children, school is one social setting that occupies a majority of their daily life, and hence producing a huge amount of opportunities for them to learn appropriate interactive and social skills through imitation, modeling, trial and error, etc. Therefore, it is of primary concern for these children to be able to learn these skills in the school setting. Since children on the autism spectrum, on most occasions, fail to learn through the usual self-learning techniques (e.g. imitation, modeling, trial and error, etc.), it is of primary importance that it is taught to them with the help of those surrounding them.

Amongst the high quality services provided by Stepping Stones, we also offer school shadowing and inclusion support in the school setting. Stepping Stones can provide such services to a student in order to provide him/her with the extra support in order to enable the student to fully and successfully participate in the classroom setting. In addition, we can provide an inclusion specialist to support inclusion and mainstream in a school setting.

Major Areas of Focus Include:

Social Skills

Most general, this encompasses all social interactions with the child’s peers, his/her teachers, the teacher’s aide, and any other person in the child’s school environment. Any behavior that the shadow observes that is inappropriate and not age appropriate is targeted and worked upon.

Play Skills

These are skills that are involved in peer interactions either in the classroom during free-play or on the playground during recess. The child is not expected to play with his/her peers at all times. Therefore, he/she is taught how to play by him/herself appropriately while not being disruptive to the rest of the class.

Appropriate In-Class Behavior

The child is expected to behave when the teacher is teaching a lesson, reading a book, or giving instructions on the proceedings of the day, etc. Thus, these additional behaviors that are focused upon that the child is able to adapt and practice efficiently.

Listening Skills

This involves listening to instructions given by the teacher or even listening to the other children in conversations, which requires a great deal of attention and focus. Helping the child learn to pay attention to verbal exchanges in the classroom or on the playground is one of the key focus areas when addressing such skills.

Academic Skills

At first, the child may need assistance with in-class activities in either performing those activities or acquiring the speech in those activities to keep up with the rest of the class. This also overlaps with the listening skills in that the child needs to be focused and attend to the activities to be able to perform them. Examples of academic skills the child may require assistance with include: writing, reading, mathematics, etc. The shadow does not do the work for the child, but rather uses incentives and positive reinforcement to keep the child focused and by using prompting to help the child do as much of the activities by him/herself.

Listening General Techniques

The basic approach we use when shadowing a child in the school setting is to be “one with the child.” What that means is that the person who is with the child, the “shadow”, becomes that child’s eyes, mouth, and any other senses that aid the child in reading his/her environmental cues that will lead them to respond and react appropriately.