Autism and SCB program nurtures students


Photo by Maya Halpern

Senior Carli Katz and Eduardo (last name withheld) spend time with one another outside of best buddies.

In the heart of Wootton (the center of the first floor, rooms 166-175) you can find a group of students you may have never met. They have their own classes, eat lunch separately from others, and might not even live in the cluster, but they enjoy being at school, maybe even more than you do. These students are in the autism and SCB program, which you might not have heard of.

The autism and SCB (school community-based) program is an opportunity for students who have different abilities to be able to experience school in a similar way to gen-ed students while getting the support they need to be able to thrive. They work on learning how to thrive in the daily world and dive deeper into working on behavior that might come as a natural result of their disabilities. Classic Autism program teacher Lisa Young said, “Seeing the progress no matter how small it is and how long you have to work to get a little bit of progress, is really cool to see kids grow and thrive and see significant changes to their behavior in order to make them be more involved in their lives.”

One way to meet and befriend these students is through the best buddies club. Participants have meetings once a month during lunch, and do activities to strengthen their bond. They are allowed to choose if they want to have a one-on-one bond with a student within the program, or if they want the opportunity to float and do the activities with several different buddies at a time. Participant in the program and senior Carli Katz said, “It’s nice to be able to become friends with people I probably never would’ve met. The best buddies program has allowed me to strengthen friendships further.”

This program is only able to accommodate a certain number of kids, so students aren’t interacting with many different people throughout the day. The buddies and friends made through the club allows for students to have more interactions, and grow significantly as a result. Teacher Mia Krawczel said, “It is great for gen-ed students to be able to come into our program and meet our kids and learn how to work with friends with different abilities. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved.”

As important as these programs are, there is a serious lack of staffing across the nation. Without adequate staffing, students within the programs aren’t able to get the support they need, and they aren’t able to grow the ways they could if they had that extra support. If interested in becoming a teacher in this program, “make sure you really love it, it can be difficult but if you really love it and love these kids it is one of the best jobs you can have,” Young said.