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Cathy

Cathy Little

Year of Award: 2018 Award State: New South Wales Education > Specialised Education
The Nancy Fairfax Churchill Fellowship to research and investigate a best practice inclusive education model for children with Autism - USA, Denmark
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Conclusions:

As a result of my fellowship, I have determined a number of ‘non-negotiables’ that are needed for successful implementation of the ASD Nest model. These factors would need to be carefully considered by policy makers and sector level decision makers when determining the feasibility of implementing Nest in Australia. None, however, are insurmountable and do not preclude the genuine discussion of Nest implementation in Australian schools.

  • Co-teaching model – one general and one special education trained teacher per class with no paraprofessional
  • Smaller class sizes (24-26 including 4-6 Nest students)
  • School-based Speech Language Pathologist on site
  • Leadership support for a whole of school initiative
  • Social Development Intervention (daily in K, 3 x per/wk following years)
  • Underpinning culture of inclusion already in existence
  • Committed staff
  • Training both initial and ongoing for all school staff
  • Support from a Nest Support Team - Funded by the education sector
  • Regular Case Conferences – dedicated time for teachers and therapists to meet and talk
  • Positive Behaviour Support framework in use within the school
  • Include parents – schools provide parent workshops on a range of topics
  • Involvement of autistic persons in program development – use their voice

Recommendations:

  • Pilot the Nest program in one school. Start with an inclusion class (ICT) with two special education trained teachers and a mix of students. Kinder class - 20 students - 16 regular, 4-5 with additional learning needs. The following year, establish a NEST stream and build from there.
  • Share the benefits of the ASD Nest Program by speaking at conferences, talking with peak bodies and stakeholders, sharing with my network and continuing to drive culture change in my current role.
  • Create an 'Agents of Change' network to drive the piloting of a Nest inspired program in New South Wales.
  • Apply for grants to support a pilot implementation of Nest in a school.
  • Maintain ongoing communication with NYU ASD Nest staff.

Keywords: Autism, ASD Nest, inclusive education, social development intervention, co-teaching autism spectrum disorder

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