Planning for a Successful Day: The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (page 3)
Multidisciplinary teams, including parents, spend a significant amount of time on students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), identifying their present level of performance as well as goals and objectives that will help them to be successful in school. However, even though student outcomes are delineated, transfer to a student’s daily program is often challenging. For example, if a student’s IEP indicates that she needs sensory input, educators, in particular general educators, often do not know what type of support should be provided and when it should occur. The same child may also need a choice board or visual schedule to enhance performance and daily functioning. Even though they may be integral to a child’s success, these accommodations may not be listed on the IEP. Failure to use them can result in frustration for both the teacher and the child, limitations in accessing the general education curriculum or severe behavior challenges.
When planning programs for children and youth, it is essential that all education professionals understand how and when to implement instructional recommendations and supports. This is particularly important for students with Asperger Syndrome (AS) because they require consistency, preparation for events prior to their occurrence and supports that match their learning style (typically visual).
There is another important consideration that is often not addressed: Supports must be created so that they are compatible not only with the child’s needs, but also with the environment. For example, if a child sits at a desk most of the time during a class, a visual support that is Velcroed® to the desk or to a notebook may be useful. But if the child moves frequently during class, she may need a visual support that moves with her or is accessible from all parts of the classroom.
It is critical that supports be planned by and communicated to all teachers who work with students with AS. This will ensure that the supports match the student’s environment and that education professionals know when and where they are to be used during the school day.
The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS)
To date, few models have been available to accomplish these challenging yet critical tasks. Even fewer are easily developed and implemented. However, a new model, the Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS) (Henry & Myles, 2007), meets all the above criteria. Simple to develop and use, the CAPS provides an overview of a student’s daily schedule by time and activity, with a specification of supports that he needs during each period. Following the development of the student’s IEP, all education professionals who work with the student develop the CAPS. Thus, the CAPS enables professionals and parents to answer the fundamental question: What supports does the student need for each activity?
As shown in Figure 1 below, the CAPS is a list of a student’s tasks and activities, and the times they occur, along with a delineation of the supports needed for student success. In addition, the CAPS includes a place for recording data collection and consideration of how skills are to be generalized to other settings.
Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS)
Time Activity Targeted Skills to Teach Structure/Modifications Reinforcement Sensory Strategies Communication/Social Skills Data Collection Generalization Plan
Targeted Skills to Teach
Components of CAPS. Specifically, the CAPS contains the following components:
- Time. This section indicates the clock time of each activity that the student engages in throughout the day.
- Activity. Activities include all tasks and activities throughout the day in which the student requires support. Academic periods (e.g., reading), nonacademic times (e.g., recess, lunch) and transitions between classes would all be considered activities.
- Targeted Skills to Teach. These may include IEP goals, state standards and/or skills that lead to school success for a given student.
- Structure/Modifications. Structure/modifications can encompass a wide variety of supports, including placement in the classroom, visual supports (e.g., choice boards, visual schedules), peer supports (e.g., Circle of Friends, peer buddies) and instructional strategies (e.g., priming, self-monitoring).
- Reinforcement. Student access to specific types of reinforcement as well as reinforcement schedules are listed here.
- Sensory Strategies. Sensory supports and strategies identified by an occupational therapist or others are listed in this area.
- Communication/Social Skills. Specific communication goals or activities as well as supports are delineated in this section. Goals or activities may include (a) requesting help, (b) taking turns in conversation or (c) protesting appropriately. Supports may encompass (a) language boards, (b) a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) book or (c) some other augmentative communication system.
- Data Collection. This space is for recording the type of data as well as the behavior to be documented during a specific activity. Typically, this section relates directly to IEP goals and objectives.
- Generalization Plan. Because individuals with AS often have problems generalizing information across settings, this section of the CAPS was developed to ensure that generalization of skills is built into the child’s program.
The CAPS is a multifaceted program that allows education professionals to know at a glance a student’s goals for an activity and what she needs to be successful for each task. Completed by a team, the CAPS can facilitate student independence across settings, activities and people. The structure of this programming tool gives it broad applicability for children and youth with AS. Best of all, it is simple to develop and use.
Henry, S., & Myles, B.S. (2007). The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS). Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
Shawn Henry, M.S., is [bio & photo forthcoming]
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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