Students with Autism

autistic child blowing bubbles with instructor

The Sheila and Milton Fine Classrooms for Students with Autism

The Autism Support (AS) program at The Day School consists of 12 classrooms for students ages 5-17 years old. Students with autism who are about ages 18-21 years old are transitioned into our Adult Prep program. Our AS classrooms are typically comprised of six students with three educational professionals. Our classrooms are guided by technical assistance and training provided through the PA Autism Initiative. The program offers instruction based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which includes a behavioral approach to language and social skills, an environmental analysis of motivation, an operant analysis of instruction in behavior management, and a pragmatic approach to data collection and data-based decision-making. 

Evidence-Based Teaching Practices

Verbal Behavior (VB) is utilized within The Day School's Autism Support classrooms. Verbal Behavior is a form of ABA that is based on B.F. Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior and work perfectly well with students who have minimal or no speech abilities. Verbal Behavior interventions motivate students to learn language by connecting words with their purposes. With systematic planning and effective instructional practices for discreet trial training, mand training, vocal training, group instruction, social skills training, natural environment training, and a functional-based approach to behavior management procedures, students are better able to participate in meaningful ways in the educational curriculum.

Academic Programming

In the AS program, educators complete a detailed assessment of each student's skills using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) at the beginning and end of each school year. Goals for each student are developed for the school year based on this assessment and parent input. All students also receive speech and language support, occupational therapy, adapted physical education with physical therapy support, social skills instruction, and intensive behavior support as part of an integrated program. The staff provides supervision and assistance to complete activities of daily living such as feeding and toileting and community-based instruction as appropriate relative to skill development. Therapists and teachers monitor progress through detailed data collection, analysis, and reporting.

For more information, please contact The Day School Enrollment Coordinator, Ashley Harland, at 412.420.2222 or

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