Special Needs

Reverse Mainstreaming...Pros and Cons?

Hi Ladies I am hoping someone can help understanding the pros and cons of the reverse mainstreaming concept. A little background DS was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (mild to moderate range). He was diagnosed about a month ago. He will turn 3 next Monday and so we are leaving the early intervention world and entering the 3 to 5 program. Today at our IEP review they offered him a classroom that is a reverse mainstream program which will contain 8 typically developing kids and 8 kids with IEP's. There will be 2 teachers and specialized therapists that work in. They offered no behavior support or ABA. Through my health insurance he will have access to about 15 hours per week of ABA at a location that offers what they call '1:1' preschool mixed in with group activities or at home if we choose. 

Our county basically believes his communication skills, social skills, pretend play skills etc are at a level that do not require that level of 1 on 1 assistance. I understand the concept that children learn best from other kids as models and learn the correct behaviors etc. Their feeling is that if he's placed in the autistic support classroom he'd be the highest level in that class and that he can actually achieve more if he were in this type of classroom. I understand they are basically working with a finite set of resources to allocate to all of the kids in their program. So I am trying to just assess what is truly best for my son given the options available. What are the arguments/ experiences regarding this type of classroom versus time being spent more 1 on 1 ABA type therapy. Any help or advice or questions we should ask are most helpful! We have not signed the IEP yet. 

Re: Reverse Mainstreaming...Pros and Cons?

  • That's a typical approach in a lot of places. An integrated classroom with kids who have IEPs for a range of delays/conditions and some typical peers.

    This can be a good fit for a kid who doesn't have a lot of adaptive delays or disruptive behaviors and who is reasonably social. Many high functioning kids on spectrum aren't even identified at this age and do fairly well in traditional preschool settings with no special supports. The notion of learning from typical peers is appealing but a little misguided for very young kids on spectrum who don't intuit things like social rules and appropriate behavior from mere exposure. I mean, if they could do what their well developing peers did by watching they wouldn't meet the criteria for autism.

    Some parents choose this sort of setting as an adjunct to an ABA classroom or one:one ABA instruction. If you son has a lot of delays or dysfunctional behavior, more ABA now could make the transition to mainstream for kindie more likely. 

    I wouldn't get overly worked up about where in the pecking order your kid sits in a classroom when he's 3. It's unimportant especially since he has a twin. What is important is that he gets intensive and targeted help to learn the skills he'll need to be successful in the next 5 years. My kid has been smartest, dumbest, weirdest, most social, middle of the pack at any given time in his educational career. 

    Can you go and observe both situations in session? Sometimes seeing the options makes it easier to imagine your child in them. 

  • image -auntie-:

    That's a typical approach in a lot of places. An integrated classroom with kids who have IEPs for a range of delays/conditions and some typical peers.

    This can be a good fit for a kid who doesn't have a lot of adaptive delays or disruptive behaviors and who is reasonably social. Many high functioning kids on spectrum aren't even identified at this age and do fairly well in traditional preschool settings with no special supports. The notion of learning from typical peers is appealing but a little misguided for very young kids on spectrum who don't intuit things like social rules and appropriate behavior from mere exposure. I mean, if they could do what their well developing peers did by watching they wouldn't meet the criteria for autism.

    Some parents choose this sort of setting as an adjunct to an ABA classroom or one:one ABA instruction. If you son has a lot of delays or dysfunctional behavior, more ABA now could make the transition to mainstream for kindie more likely. 

    I wouldn't get overly worked up about where in the pecking order your kid sits in a classroom when he's 3. It's unimportant especially since he has a twin. What is important is that he gets intensive and targeted help to learn the skills he'll need to be successful in the next 5 years. My kid has been smartest, dumbest, weirdest, most social, middle of the pack at any given time in his educational career. 

    Can you go and observe both situations in session? Sometimes seeing the options makes it easier to imagine your child in them. 

     

    Thanks for the insight. We are going to observe the reverse mainstream this week and have observed the ABA classroom. I agree with what you are saying 100%. I do want him to get the support he needs. We have been through two typical preschool evaluations with him (pre asd diagnosis) and it was clear to us he could not handle that. Both preschools said they could not meet his needs and so I know what he really needs is that one on one prompting because he does do very well with that and not as well in group...which is what they of course have not observed in the IU screening process. 

  • My DD1 spent her first year of preschool in an environment very much like what you're describing in the reverse mainstream room -- a near-even mix of kids with various SN (ASD, speech delays, Down, etc.) and typical kids. Three teachers, the lead teacher has a SpEd background, plus therapists. My district calls it their co-taught class. The curriculum is called Tools of the Mind (same for all preschool classes) and is actually based on some of the same psychological principles as RDI, which is an autism therapy program. 

    It was a wonderful fit for her, and enabled her to progress to the point that she was mainstreamed for her second year of preschool and will be heading to full-day, mainstream kindergarten this fall.

    Just to give you an idea, my DD1's struggles are mostly with social skills and communication. She is very adaptable, relatively passive, and isn't prone to tantrums or behavioral issues. She is on-target academically (no significant cognitive impairment). She needed the extra support of the co-taught class the first year, definitely, but by the second year, the challenges and the peers she needed to be around were in the regular classroom.  We actually initially wrote her second IEP for her to stay in the co-taught room a second year, but she made such rapid progress towards the end of the year that we changed it in the last week of class on the recommendation of her therapists and that was totally the right decision to make. 

    I think the choice between the two is really dependent on your kid. It sounds like you're really leaning toward the ABA. Give the reverse mainstream a fair shot, when you visit, though --  for us it was absolutely the right choice for a solid foundation.  

    ETA: And I do think the "pecking order" of the class played a role in our choice as well. I don't want my kid to be the highest functioning or the lowest functioning kid in a given room, if I have a choice -- I do want to aim for middle of the pack, and so far we've been able to do that.  

    image

    DD1, 1/5/2008 ~~~ DD2, 3/17/2010
  • image lite-bright:

    My DD1 spent her first year of preschool in an environment very much like what you're describing in the reverse mainstream room -- a near-even mix of kids with various SN (ASD, speech delays, Down, etc.) and typical kids. Three teachers, the lead teacher has a SpEd background, plus therapists. My district calls it their co-taught class. The curriculum is called Tools of the Mind (same for all preschool classes) and is actually based on some of the same psychological principles as RDI, which is an autism therapy program. 

    It was a wonderful fit for her, and enabled her to progress to the point that she was mainstreamed for her second year of preschool and will be heading to full-day, mainstream kindergarten this fall.

    Just to give you an idea, my DD1's struggles are mostly with social skills and communication. She is very adaptable, relatively passive, and isn't prone to tantrums or behavioral issues. She is on-target academically (no significant cognitive impairment). She needed the extra support of the co-taught class the first year, definitely, but by the second year, the challenges and the peers she needed to be around were in the regular classroom.  We actually initially wrote her second IEP for her to stay in the co-taught room a second year, but she made such rapid progress towards the end of the year that we changed it in the last week of class on the recommendation of her therapists and that was totally the right decision to make. 

    I think the choice between the two is really dependent on your kid. It sounds like you're really leaning toward the ABA. Give the reverse mainstream a fair shot, when you visit, though --  for us it was absolutely the right choice for a solid foundation.  

    ETA: And I do think the "pecking order" of the class played a role in our choice as well. I don't want my kid to be the highest functioning or the lowest functioning kid in a given room, if I have a choice -- I do want to aim for middle of the pack, and so far we've been able to do that.  

     

    Thank you for the information and for sharing your experience! That's great that your DD made such immense progress! I will definitely have an open mind when we visit this week. 

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