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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Logan River Academy is a leading  school with programs for teens on the autism spectrum.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is defined by the following criteria:

(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g.. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  • a lack of social or emotional reciprocity

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

(III) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

(IV) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (E.G. single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

(V) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

(VI) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.

Some other symptoms we see with our students on the autism spectrum are the following: Slow processing speed; poor memory; auditory processing weaknesses; poor sense of cause and effect; black and white thinking; lack of cognitive and behavioral flexibility; weak executive functioning skills; weakness in reading social cues, poor visual spatial skills, large or small motor deficiencies; struggle to see the big picture, sensory sensitivity; hygiene problems and lack of maturity.

At Logan River Academy, we have two dorms with a program called ESSENCE that is designated for adolescents on the autism spectrum. We have therapists with years of experience working with students on the autism spectrum. Our specific, well thought out approach, has helped many adolescents gain the skills necessary to live a more productive life.

The two ESSENCE dorms are designated for children with spectrum disorders. These dorms are spacious and comfortable. We have well trained staff that is equipped with the skills to work with students fitting this profile. Staff focuses on helping the students learn skills to be productive citizens. Our staff patiently works with, coaches, and mentors our students.The approach is to focus on teaching, coaching, practicing, and listening in order to help our students succeed. Our goal is to help our students feels safe and cared about. Students on the autism spectrum tend to need a lot of time and patience from the adults around them. We are very well aware of this fact and embrace it. We have at least two staff on the dorm with the boys at all times. The staff to student ratio is high, affording the attention needed to support and coach our students. The staff members are there to listen, process, coach, assist, help, problem-solve, and teach.We focus a lot of attention on helping our students learn, develop, and apply effective social skills. Good social skills are difficult for students on the autism spectrum to develop. However, each moment presents new opportunities for our students to learn how to talk with someone such as how close to stand to someone when carrying on a conversation, what voice tone to use, and how to show interest in others.

Our students have a daily phase sheet that helps them to focus on their goals. This sheet addresses specific areas where students tend to struggle such as hygiene, social skills, organization, and learning cause and effect. Our staff sits down and works with each student daily on these goals.

We want to keep our students busy. They have a daily schedule that provides structure, consistency and predictability.Our students attend school each day from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. We have structured activities for the boys after school. Our boys volunteer at various community services such as a homeless shelter and the Humane Society. They walk and play with the dogs and cats. They help clean the shelter as well as provide any kind of help the shelter may need. They serve meals at the homeless shelter. Our boys love these opportunities. We have found that our boys on the autism spectrum can connect well with dogs. These opportunities provide chances to learn to serve others.

Our ESSENCE boys also have two off campus activities each week that they do as a dorm. These activities include going to movies, out to eat, to plays, to concerts, sledding, fishing, the theater, playing at the park, and so on. These activities are earned by working hard in school, with peers, and on treatment goals. Students also have the opportunity to participate in phase activities and recreational activities each week that include: skiing, rock climbing, working out at the gym, hiking, etc.

We have a focused clinical approach with our students on the autism spectrum and our therapists are dedicated and qualified to work with these students. We provide individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy to aid in the treatment process. We also have a psychiatrist who works with the students who may need medication.

We have found that our ESSENCE approach to working with students with students on the autism spectrum is very effective. Through a balanced approach of therapy, a well thought-out academic program, and dedicated residential staff, we help our students to reach their goals and learn to succeed in life.