The ASD Nest Program is an inclusive New York City public school program that provides a therapeutic environment utilizing a transdisciplinary team of therapists and educators to educate children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders).
2002 : The New York City Department of Education began to develop the ASD Nest Program.
2003 : ASD Nest Program was launched. The initial setting was a school in Brooklyn—Public School 32.
The ASD Nest Program was developed and implemented by public school educators: Led by District 15 Superintendent Carmen Farina, guided by Hunter College Professor Shirley Cohen, and facilitated by Dorothy Siegel, Project Director, New York University Steinhardt School of Education.
Presently, the ASD Nest Program has been replicated in 15 supportive neighborhood schools (14 elementary and one middle) throughout New York City and serves approximately 235 high functioning ASD students. There are 59 ASD Nest Program classrooms, ranging from Kindergarten through 8 th Grade.
To assist high functioning children with autistic spectrum disorders function well academically, behaviorally, and socially in school and in their community.
To help teachers and therapists form a collaborative team—each on the same page, speaking the same language, and providing programmatic continuity from year to year to all students in the program.
To address sensory processing and self-regulation needs.
To encourage social participation and inclusion.
To create a therapeutic environment that provides support within a grade-appropriate academic framework. There is a combination of special education supports with the academic rigor of a general education program.
Language development, sensory/motor skill development, collaborative problem-solving, and a strong home/school component.
ASD Nest classrooms are modeled similarly to Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) classes.
There are two teachers with training in specialized curricula and instructional strategies in each classroom—no paraprofessionals.
Intensive K classes contain six students and are not inclusive.
Kindergarten classes contain 12 students: 4 ASD students and 8 general education students.
Grades 1 st , 2 nd , and 3 rd contain 16 students: 4 ASD students and 12 general education students.
Slightly larger class size after grade 3.
ASD Nest Program: Social Development Intervention (SDI)
Conversation building—learning the rules and logistics of conversation, initiating, and maintaining conversations.
Understanding the rules of verbal participation and active listening.
Asking and answering questions.
Relationship development—understanding and wanting to have social relationships.
ASD Nest Program: Support to Students, Parents, and Staff
Weekly meetings/case conferences, professional development, and time for co-planning and collaboration for all staff are integrated into the program. Progress made by students is assessed and strategies are discussed and agreed upon.
Staff receive specialized training.
Provides intensive pre- and in-service training for all ASD teachers and specialists on specialized curricula and instructional strategies in socialization, adaptive skills, language and communication, and reduction of problem behaviors.
Pull-outs and disruptions are kept to a minimum.
Strong home/school collaboration.
Staff focuses on verbal and non-verbal communication, reciprocal social interaction, self-regulation, and the skills and knowledge to participate in general education settings.