Emotional disturbances can affect many different aspects central to student learning, including (but not limited to): concentration, stamina, time and task management, social interactions, response to feedback, response to change, and response to stress. Many of the medications prescribed to address emotional disturbance also have side effects that can impact student learning. To address these issues, Aseltine offers intensive, individualized behavioral services and a school-wide Conflict Resolution/Counseling Program to meet each student’s specific needs.
Through the Conflict Resolution/Counseling Program, students develop self-awareness, personal and social coping skills, communication skills, and, most importantly, problem-solving skills. Students learn to apply these skills to their issues in the classroom and to their struggles in the real world. This model fosters respectful and caring staff/student interactions, which are based on the mutual understanding that leads to increased self-control and self-esteem. It also represents a distinct departure from traditional school methods to address discipline and deal with student behavior – rather than simply react to students’ inappropriate behavior with punishment and isolation, Aseltine staff engage students in a discussion about their issues so they can examine their motives; understand their behaviors’ effects – on themselves and others – and learn to effectively resolve future issues.
Aseltine also works with students outside the school setting to address their deficits. Staff and students bond during enriching community experiences in the Outreach Program, which gives students opportunities to use their new life skills outside the classroom. When requested, staff members provide counseling and intervention to help families resolve issues and conflicts.
Each student receives designated instructional services and accommodations as indicated on his/her Individual Education Plan (IEP) and beyond. Our entire curriculum meets California Common Core State Standards. Students over 14 years of age receive Transition Education and Career Development.
Attention Disorders/Other Health Impairments
Most people imagine students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders (ADD/ADHD) as out-of-control kids in constant motion, bouncing off the walls and disrupting everyone around them. However, this is not the only picture. Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, while others sit quietly with their attention miles away; some focus strongly on a task and have trouble shifting focus; others are only mildly inattentive, but overly impulsive. Aseltine works collaboratively with students regardless of where they fall on the spectrum.
Aseltine staff recognize that, for students with ADD/ADHD, the problem is not necessarily that they cannot pay attention, but that they quickly tune out when they perceive content as repetitive and/or boring. With this in mind, Aseltine provides an engaging academic program that considers students’ interests and focuses on their unique learning style. Our highly trained and experienced classroom staff implement several strategies to engage each learner and provide opportunities for them to become active participants in their learning experience. The process of learning occurs beyond Aseltine’s classroom walls and school day; we provide clubs, electives, and community outreach opportunities that capture our students’ attention and imagination.
Specific Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities (LDs) are actually a group of disorders, not a single disorder, which affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, respond to and communicate information. Learning disabilities impact students in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, and mathematics. Aseltine teachers understand the challenges of teaching a group of students while keeping in mind individual learner’s needs. However, there are effective techniques and strategies that can be used to help support students of all abilities – including those with learning disabilities.
Students receive instruction in small groups and 1:1 based on their needs and strengths. We use both heterogeneous and homogeneous groups to address their various needs. Aseltine teachers utilize intervention programs in reading and math and design interactive, hands-on lessons to address multiple learning styles. Students learn to develop metacognitive and task-based strategies that allow them to develop learning tools to access the curriculum. Students may also use adaptive technology (e.g. AlphaSmarts, laptops, etc.) as needed.
Aseltine’s licensed Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist provide services to address deficits in basic skills like reading and pronunciation, typing, hand-eye coordination, and relaxation techniques.
Foster Youth with Disabilities
Young people in the foster system who also struggle with emotional disturbances and learning disabilities are some of the most vulnerable students served in our schools today. However, the school system is not set up to address their serious needs or the unique challenges they face in negotiating the multiple, complex systems serving these “at-risk” youth. These systems – family courts, child welfare, juvenile justice, physical and mental health, education, etc. – can be disjointed and disconnected; sometimes their agendas are even at odds with one other. It is easy for these young people to slip through the cracks.
At Aseltine, we believe much more can – and should – be done to guarantee youth with disabilities who also live in foster care receive the comprehensive support, encouragement, and assistance they need to ensure their sense of safety, stability, and well-being – as well as their academic success. We not only focus on re-engaging students in their academic studies; we ensure we provide an environment that nurtures their emotional well-being as well. Aseltine’s dedicated staff and Family/Student Services Team work hard to collaborate with other agencies serving these young people to facilitate a seamless transition between home, school, and community life. Aseltine advocates for students whenever possible; we also help them learn to advocate for themselves so they can be in control of their own lives and ensure their voice is heard and their needs are met as they negotiate the various systems with influence over their lives.