Colorado Autism and Significant Support Needs Model Programs Announced By Colorado Special Education Department
The Special Education Department of the Colorado Department of Education recently announced an opportunity for select school districts in Colorado to create and then showcase their Model Autism and/or Significant Support Needs Program with the financial and professional assistance of the Colorado Department of Education, Institutes of Higher Education and other agencies. The initiative is called the Colorado Autism and Significant Support Needs Program Project (COMASP) and was developed by the Colorado Department of Education, the Significant Support Needs Advisory Council, and the Colorado Autism Task Force in collaboration with the State Professional Development Grant.
COMASP is seeking to establish one Autism model site and one SSN model site at every level (preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school and transition) in eight regions of the state. The COMASP project requires that the school district complete an involved application process and meet certain minimum requirements in order to be considered.
Once the school district has been chosen, an Instructional Coach is assigned and an intensive evaluation is completed by the project staff. An implementation plan is developed and a schedule is determined as to when coaching visits and professional development occurs. When the schedule is set, Instructional Coaching, which includes on the job training of staff, begins. Once the site has implemented 80% of the Quality Indicators, the site will be deemed a Model Site. Staff from the model sites may then be used to assist with setting up future sites, provide feedback to the project, and potentially train new teams.
According to the CDE, there will be a focus on literacy for students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities using the RtI model and improving social-emotional skills using strategies from the Positive Behavior Support framework and other evidence based practices. The training and ongoing coaching will be individualized to meet the needs of each school.
This appears to be a wonderful opportunity for your school district to participate in a project that will greatly benefit students with autism and significant support needs throughout the state. However, it requires your school district to first, know about this opportunity, and second, to take the time to apply (and eventually qualify) to become a model site. This requires you, as parents of children with significant support needs, to bring COMASP to your school district’s attention and demand that they become involved in COMASP. Every parent in every school district should want to have their neighberhood school have a model site.
To learn more about COMASP, contact Gina Graham, CDE Senior Consultant, at 303-866-6605 (SSN Model Programs) and Brooke Young, CDE Autism Specialist, at 303-866-6691 (Autism Model Programs).
By Jack Robinson