Strategies for Achieving Independent Lives for Students (SAILS)

The SAILS program has been assisting young children and their families for the past 10 years. Its scope has evolved to more than just a classroom. The teacher(s), therapists, and program supervisor provide services to schools and families also. This may be in the form of a transition plan for when a student is ready to attend their home school, or go to a child care provider. It may include on-site observations, coaching techniques, and home visits to families. Extended school year services extend beyond the classroom walls where every week the students, and family members too, go on outings. Shopping, fishing, visiting the Miller Park Zoo or Shedd Aquarium all provide life and leisure family adventures.

PlayroomSome students who may be included in the SAILS program are those who have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and are in need of establishing a communication system. These systems may include picture exchange, simple switches, Intellitools software, voice output devices, and computers. Some of the appropriate students for this program may include those diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Executive Functioning Disorder, Non-Verbal Learning Disability, and Communication Disorder. Along with establishing a system of communication, the program also works with students who may be verbal but whose language is difficult to understand, or who may not be able to “begin” a conversation. Students attend 1/2 day or full day sessions, Monday-Friday. They may also be dually enrolled in their local district’s ECSE/Pre-K classess.

Related services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy etc. are provided to each student as determined by the IEP team. A collaborative effort is employed by the staff as these services will be offered individually or in small groups, and either in the classroom or therapy room as appropriate.

This program is also designed to be a model diagnostic and instructional classroom that serves as a training site for educators and parents. The LCSSU Regional Autism Team provides support to this program . Training sessions for teachers and staff can be provided to assist these students receive optimal benefits through home- school instruction.

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