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Dec 22, 2016 10:12 AM EST

NYU & NYCDOE: Helping Students With Autism Through High School, College and Beyond [Video]

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Autistic boy shares heartfelt video about his life

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often affects children's emotions, confidence and the way they interact with other children and the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) is helping students by making classrooms more suitable to their learning and condition.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defined ASD as a group of mental disorders that includes a wide range, "a spectrum," of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability. Children suffering from this disorder may have communication difficulties, limited interests and repetitive behaviors and challenges in social functions, which includes learning and performance in school.

NPR reported that in response to the poor academic performance of children with autism, the city launched the ASD Nest. The program is jointly run by NYCDOE and NYU Nest Support Project.

The project aims to use the classroom and education to counter autism by having able students with ASD attend regular classes together with their non-disabled peers.

The program uses an Integrated Co-Teaching model where there is one special education teacher and one general education teacher. The class size is controlled and grow as students develop. The ratio of ASD afflicted to non-ASD students also increases gradually.

The program, just like other NYC schools follow the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). It also utilizes specialized training strategies for students with ASD like the Social Development Intervention (SDI).

SDI, according to NYU is an evidence-based tool developed by the university which educators can use to support the social and emotional development of ASD students.

The program began in 2003 and one ASD learner that have benefitted from it is Colin Ozeki, currently a high school senior at Millennium Brooklyn High School. Despite ASD, Colin have shown remarkable academic performance.

Among the first batch of learners, Colin started as a child and is very thankful with how the program have changed things for him. When he started, there were only a handful of schools and now after a few years it has grown to 39 participating schools that can develop and empower children like Colin to be more able and confident

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