Exceptional Student Education


4204 Okeechobee Road
Fort Pierce, Fl. 34947

Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Phone: (772)429-4570
Fax: (772)429-4589

Questions or Comments?
Contact Us


What Autism is:

    • Neurological disorder affecting the brain
    • No single cause identified
    • Typically appears by age 3
    • Exhibit serious impairments in Communication
    • Restrictive, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities

    What Autism is NOT:

    • Psychosis (e.g., Schizophrenia, Multiple Personalities)
    • A person without feelings or emotions
    • A result of poor parenting

    Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders:

    • Asperger'sDisorder - Primarily characterized by impairment in social behavior and social communication, eccentric or exclusive interests
    • Rett's Syndrome - Primarily affects females: includes loss of previously acquired motor skills, usually severe profound impactment
    • PDD-NOS - Atypical autism due to late age at onset, atypical symptoms and/or sub-threshold symptoms
    • Range from very high functioning to profoundly impaired
    • Frequently have uneven development of skills
    • May have co-existing disorders (e.g., seizure disorder, mental retardation, Fragile X syndrome and affective disorders including anxiety and mood disorders)

    Common Characteristics

    • Self-stimulatory behaviors
    • Echolalia/Unusual speech patterns
    • Aloofness from others
    • Insistence on sameness
    • Difficulty expressing needs
    • Outbursts for no apparent reason
    • Sensitive to touch (over- or under-)
    • Not responsive to auditory cues
    • Inability to focus on critical stimuli
    • Uneven gross and fine motor development
    • Unusual play

    Prevalence in USA

    • 1 in every 150 births
    • Rate of diagnosis increasing by 10-17% each year
    • 4 times more prevalent in boys than girls

    Prevalence in St. Lucie County

    • Over 200 students enrolled in St. Lucie Public Schools
    • 85% boys
    • 59 %Pre-K / Elementary age
    • 20% Middle School age
    • 21% High School age
    • Less than half served in autism cluster units

    Educational Placement: Benefits of Inclusion

    For Students with ASDs

  1. Exposure to positive role models
  • Enhances communication
  • Enhances social development

    For Neuro-Typical Children

    • Develop compassion, understanding and tolerance for differences
    • Self-esteem from being a positive role model

    Educational Placement: Referral Process

    Student Support (SST)/Problem Solving Intervention (PSI)Team Problem-Solving ProcessAcademic/Behavioral/Social Concern Procedures (Summary)*

    • Teacher/parent conference to develop initial interventions
    • Teacher implements intervention/collects data to monitor progress
    • If intervention unsuccessful, teacher consults with grade level team to revise interventions
    • Teacher implements revised intervention, collects data to monitor progress
    • If intervention unsuccessful, teacher completes SST/PSI initiation paperwork
    • SST/PSI Team meets to review data and identify primary concerns (include Behavior Analyst in meeting)
    • SST/PSI Team develops interventions, teacher implements and collects data to monitor progress
    • SST/PSI Team meets to review and discuss progress
    • If intervention is not successful, SST/PSI Team revisits interventions, makes changes, then teacher continues with data collection/progress monitoring
    • If intervention is not successful, revise interventions and proceed with ESE referral

    *Consult with SST/PSI facilitator for the detailed chart of this process

    Interacting with Students with Autism- Expectations

    • Learn about the student and his/her abilities
    • Don't assume what he/she can or cannot do
    • Set realistic expectations

    Interacting with Students with Autism- Giving Directions

    • Speak in a calm but firm voice
    • Keep directions short and to the point
    • Avoid using a loud or emotional tone of voice
    • Avoid abrupt movements or unnecessary touching
    • Limit your use of questions
    • Model what you want the student to do
    • Maintain a calm demeanor
    • Reduce the stimulation in the environment
    • Avoid physical contact if possible
    • Avoid multiple people talking to student
    • Refrain from commenting on student behavior
    • Call for assistance from person with CPI training

    Interacting with Students with Autism- Crisis Situations

    If you witness a crisis, ask staff working with student if they need assistance.

    You might assist by:

    • Calling administration/crisis management team
    • Moving physical items out of way
    • Removing other students from area
    • Supervising other students
    • Serving as a witness to the crisis

    Working with Students with Autism- Requesting Assistance

    • District Behavior Analysts
    • District School Psychologists>
    • District Speech and Language Therapists
    • District Occupational and Physical Therapists


  1. Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) www.coe.fau.edu/CARD
  2. Autism Speaks www.autismspeaks.org
  3. Autism Society www.autismsociety.org