In Ontario, Canada, Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) is an intensive application of applied behaviour analysis (ABA) delivered through the Autism Intervention Program funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. IBI uses the principles of ABA, in a one-on-one setting, to teach new skills in an intensive format (20-40 hours per week). ABA is provided in all of Ontario’s publicly-funded schools to students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and is supported through Ministry of Education policy requirements on the use of ABA instructional practices, where appropriate, and in accordance with students’ individual education plans.
The Connections for Students model was developed by the Ministries of Children and Youth Services and Education to support school-aged children transitioning from IBI therapy services to ABA instructional methods in schools. Through the model, each child is supported by a multidisciplinary transition team that includes the parent(s), teacher, principal, an ASD consultant and other professionals as required. Teams are established approximately six months prior to the child leaving the Autism Intervention Program and continue to support the child for at least six months after entry into or continuing ABA instructional methods in school.
To determine the effectiveness of the Connections for Students model in supporting school-aged children transitioning from IBI therapy services to ABA instructional methods in publicly-funded schools.
The model was piloted in 2009-10 in 16 school boards. 477 children transitioned through the Connections for Students model. A mixed-method approach of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis was utilized including:
- Model Compliance Checklists;
- Surveys of parents and transition team members;
- Reports from local school board and community service provider partnerships; and,
- Assessments of student outcomes, including percentage of children who met individual expectations for demonstrating generalization/transfer of skills and knowledge; following classroom routines; demonstrating school-appropriate behaviour; and daily attendance.
Parents were predominately satisfied with the model implementation. 80% were satisfied with the manner in which transition teams worked with their child, and 73% agreed that transition teams benefited their child after discharge from the AIP. Transition teams’ level of collaboration in the areas of respecting team expertise, promoting open communication, and supporting parent engagement were regarded as exceptionally high. Students who participated in the model achieved positive results in meeting the expectations for school attendance, skill transfer/generalization and following school routines. Data regarding student performance in the AIP was shared with school boards in advance, improving programming for children transitioning to school.
The Connections for Students model was effective in supporting school-aged children transitioning from IBI therapy services to ABA instructional methods in schools. School boards have begun to generalize the multi-disciplinary, team-based model to other transitions (e.g., grade-to-grade, primary to secondary school, etc.) for students with ASD and/or other exceptionalities. The model was fully implemented in all 72 school boards in Ontario in 2010-11. 1,221 children received transition supports through the Connections for Students model in 2011-12.