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ABA Program Expands in Third Year with More on Horizon

Valley Echo Banner.  Jill Caltagirone '18
2 March 2018

In a partnership between Bergen County Special Services (BCSS) and Passaic Valley, the Applied Behavior Analysis Program (ABA) helps to work with students with autism. The partnership has been going strong for three years running and continues to expand. This year, the program and PV have scheduled their Annual Autism Walk for Sunday, April 15. Classroom projects from ABA students.

Through BCSS, Ms. Abby Rodgers, the program’s Behavior Consultant, explained the details of the program. “We offer a comprehensive program designed to meet the academic, social, behavioral, and vocational needs for high school students who have special needs,” Rodgers said. “The program is highly individualized and based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis.”

The ABA program has expanded from two to three classrooms this year. Furthermore, the students are now able to partake in more openings in mainstream areas and partner with the other PV self-contained classrooms. 

Any students interested in volunteering their time, or wishing to gain experience if they are interested in the field, could do so. The program offers the “Peer Participation Program” that allows students to come to the classrooms and work on different skill sets within the program. “While working with our students, PV students receive training and great experience,” said Rodgers.Teamwork bulletin board of the ABA classroom.

Within the program, students are may stay until they are 21 years old. BCSS also offers two schools, located in Paramus, for students as young as 3 years old and as old as 21 years old. The students in the program are given many of the same opportunities as their peers in a mainstream environment, such as elective classes like art, choir, gardening and culinary. In addition to electives, students are able to participate in winter and spring sports.

Students are also taught life-skills and work-skills in the program, such as cooking, laundry, and personal hygiene. “We offer community based instruction,” Rodgers explained. “Meaning we teach individualized skills in the natural environment to provide real life experiences for our students.” ABA classroom.

For example, teachers work with students to create a grocery list and go to Shoprite, or go to Wendy’s to place an order. Within the community, local business also help students to gain work-skills. Applebee’s, Marshall’s, the local library, Aquila Pizza, and Mr. Cupcake give students the opportunity to receive work experiences.

Rodgers has personally been in the field for 15 years. In college, she worked in a school that specializes in ABA. “I was assigned to a student who was 4 years old and recently diagnosed with autism. We formed a very special bond and I knew then, that this was the field I wanted to pursue for my career.”

Lookout on the Valley Echo for an article featuring the MDA program.