Academics and Curriculum

Behavior & Evidence-Based Instruction

Verbal Behavior is an element of Applied Behavior Analysis which is an evidence based science 
with over 60 years of peer-reviewed technologies. Verbal Behavior is often used to teach language to individuals with disabilities a systematic way to help the individual achieve functional communication with a variety of modalities (vocal, sign, PECS, etc). At Crossroads School the Verbal Behavior Milestone Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP; http://www.marksundberg.com) is utilized to help guide the practice of the Board Certified Behavior Analyst in assessing, implementing and tracking of the student’s skill acquisition including language development. ‚ÄčEach verbal operant is systematically taught and tracked to ensure that the student progressing as well as addressing an barriers that may impede language and skill acquisition. Often we see interfering behaviors that function as “language” for many students, these behaviors are often decreased by teaching language in a functional way. VB methodology not only works on developing communication skills, including receptive and expressive language across various environments (i.e., requesting, labeling, vocal imitation and conversational skills) but also includes working on gross and fine motor imitation, textual (writing) and listening (following instructions) skills, just to name a few.

Common Terminology:

  • Mand-requests (“I want ____)

  • Tact-labels (“This is a ____)

  • Echoic-repeating what was said

  • Interverbal- “fill in the blank” statements

  • Extinction- removing the reinforcement

  • Reinforcement-something that makes that behavior more likely to happen again

  • Errorless teaching- providing immediate assistance when teaching so the child does not practice errors

  • Interspersal- using easier tasks before and after a new or harder task to ensure the child is successful

  • Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)- BCBA’s tool to find out “why” the child is engaging in a behavior (wanted or unwanted)

  • Generalization-make sure the child is using skills in other places or with other people

  • Task Analysis-breaking down a more complex behavior into smaller pieces

  • Skill acquisition-learning something new

  • Behavioral momentum- way to get the ball rolling to help the child be more successful (rapid pace of instruction)

The Miller Method 

The Miller Method is an action-oriented program based on the theory that children learn best when they can move and have physical interactions with the people and objects in their environment.  

classThe Miller Method is guided by the child’s initiatives and specific organized interventions introduced by teachers and therapists. This semi-structured approach was developed to help children expand their stereotypical, repetitive behaviors into functional skills.

Children with autism often lack body awareness and motor planning skills. An important tool employed at Crossroads School is the Elevated Square. Developed by Dr. Miller, the square is a multi-sensory platform system elevated three feet off the floor. Students working on the Elevated Square develop a “heightened sense of awareness” as they work with therapists and teachers to reorganize themselves, increase their awareness of where their bodies are in space and reinforce academic concepts taught in the classroom.

Weekly video-conferencing provides the opportunity for Miller Method Specialist and Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist, Dr. Paul Callahan to observe faculty members at Crossroads School working with students on the Elevated Square and offer recommendations for changes in treatment.

Curriculum

Crossroads school's curriculum is comprehensive and multifaceted focusing on the acquisition of the academic, social-emotional and communication skills necessary for students to become active, contributing members of their communities. All academic subjects are aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

At Crossroads, our instructional programs are specifically tailored to each child based on initial and ongoing assessments while utilizing both one-to-one and small group settings; multisensory strategies, natural environment teaching, Verbal Behavior and the Miller Method. Some examples of our programs include: Attainment Curriculum, Circles, Miller Reading Program, Edmark Reading Program, Reading Milestones, Explode the Code, Handwriting Without Tears and Touchmath. Students also receive instruction in art and physical education by properly certified teachers.

Preschool Program

The preschool curriculum implemented at Crossroads School is aligned to the New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality. The goal of the curriculum is to prepare each child for the next developmentally appropriate step in his or her educational experience. The curriculum fosters a structured, nurturing environment in which each child is challenged to grow toward his or her potential. The curriculum also facilitates readiness skills while focusing on self-awareness, social competence, sensory processing, functional communication, self care and independence with an emphasis on generalization across school, home and community settings.

Elementary Program

Crossroads School provides a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum focused on the development of cognitive, functional communication, sensory integration and social skills. Instructional programs are highly individualized and all academic subjects are aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

All academic content is taught by certified special education teachers in both individual and small group settings using a variety of multi-sensory strategies. Examples of the instructional programs utilized at Crossroads include Miller Reading Program, Edmark Reading Program, Explode the Code, Handwriting Without Tears, and TOUCHMATH. Students also receive instruction in art, physical education and music by appropriately certified teachers.

Middle School Program

The goals of this program are to assist students in making a successful transition from primary instruction while building a solid foundation of the academic, communication, pre-vocational, social and adaptive skills needed for future employment and community integration.

Community Based Instruction

Each classroom participates in monthly trips into the community to such places as the local supermarket, firehouse, pet store, bowling alley, park or library. The goal of community based instruction is to improve the students’ ability to transition to new and unfamiliar places as well as provide them with opportunities to generalize skills learned in the classroom to functional and authentic settings.