So now What?
We had a new baby but what is the next step? The Engage program was not only a new baby to us, but a new baby in the world. As long-time teachers and consultants in Special Ed, specifically Autism, we knew there was nothing quite like this out there. There are excellent programs for all different parts of a person with Autism's life (RDI for parents, Social Thinking for speech, ABA for behavioral concerns, TEACCH for independent work, or a host of medical interventions for physical issues) but notice that we don't have a lot of group activities represented in this list. Humans function in groups but if you have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, where among other things your mind has trouble generalizing knowledge across scenarios, you are taught 1:1 most of the time and then dropped into groups with a pat on the back and a "good luck". This is just unfair! Engage says we can do better as instructors. We can do small things differently and have a big impact. We can stop prompting and start trusting that people with ASD will figure out a way. We can stop telling the Autism that it needs support and attention and start telling the PERSON that they are smart and capable. But how do we get it out there?
Mundopato Inc. was our new baby's first advocate. Ricardo and his brilliant team recognized the uniqueness of Engage and gave us the platform to share it with el mundo. Partnering with Mundopato gives Engage a worldwide platform. We know that there are other Mrs. Banks out there holding up the pictures each time a cannon blows. They are amazing instructors and have incredible staff to help but it is a tiring and thankless way to teach. It is also not a long term solution for people with ASD. Prompting behavior, scripting language, and orchestrating relationships does not teach the learner that they are a person who can BE in the world. Like most parents, we love talking about our baby. We think Engage is the smartest, most in tune, and most affordable way to help special education learners.
*When I refer to "we" I am referring to the co-creator of Engage, Karen Harrison. Karen will be a guest blogger along the way.