BEND, OR -- A Bend-based program aimed at helping kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other development disabilities is now also providing unique opportunities for special education teachers.
High Desert ESD runs the Bridges program at Lava Ridge Elementary for Kindergarten through third graders. HDESD's Sara Ausman says these kids often need extra help learning how to be students, "The transitions, being able to share, line-up, participate, regulate." She says, "Giving the visual and the physical and verbal prompting for students on the spectrum, to help them gain skills and become learning ready." The goal is to prepare students for learning in school. "We have an Autism specialist who spends one full day a week in the program, we have Occupational Therapists."
Now, Bridges is one of 40 designated Autism Training Sites in the state and the only one in Central Oregon, helping teachers who work with these special kids. "I just got a text this morning from a Special Ed Director from one of our neighboring districts," Ausman tells KBND News, "And she said, ‘is it possible for my elementary SpEd teacher to come and observe for a day? We are getting several kinders coming in on the spectrum and we need ideas; we need strategies’."
High Desert ESD serves seven counties but teachers from any district in Oregon can train at Bridges.