Adapted Physical Education Group
All students at CSM participate in a weekly 30 minute PE group with their classmates, run by CSM OT Wayne Tart. Wayne has many years of experience coaching various sports with a variety of ages and abilities, and has also completed a certified weight training program. The students engage in structured warm up activities and work on fundamental skills required to participate in various sports such as basketball, kickball, baseball, football, bowling and golf. As the students are working on these skills, they are also working to improve their level of endurance, postural control, mobility, bilateral integration, and motor planning. Successful participation requires attending to a task, learning to follow directions, and peer group interaction - all skill areas that are a crucial part of the students' experience at CSM.
The pre-vocational program at CSM was developed in collaboration with CSAAC's adult vocational program, to determine the various types of jobs most available to our clients, and the skills needed to be successful at them. It's goal is to teach students a variety of skills and determine individual strengths and job preferences, so they may be matched with a job they perform well at and enjoy after they graduate. Once our students reach the age of 10-12 years, they have a major portion of their OT services provided in the pre-vocational area, typically in a small group setting. In addition to preparing students for future adult vocational opportunities, pre-vocational tasks address specific IEP goals in several OT related skill areas including fine motor, grasp, bilateral integration, visual attention, visual motor, motor planning, sequencing, and problem-solving. The program includes various assembly/dis-assembly, sorting, shelving, and office/paper-handling tasks, at a wide range of levels from simple nuts-and-bolts to furniture assembly.
Our weekly horseback riding groups take place at Oatland Stables, conveniently located less than a mile from the CSM campus, and supervised by one of the stable's staff experienced in working with this population, as well as one of our OTs. This activity is a relatively common therapeutic method used with individuals with autism, as it facilitates the riders' vestibular and proprioceptive system by enhancing their balance, equilibrium and postural responses to movement, muscle strength, coordination, and body awareness. Being exposed to and learning to ride a large, powerful animal also offers our students a unique opportunity to develop self-confidence as they learn how to control the horse's movement.
Numerous studies have shown that music and music therapy techniques have significant, positive influences in the treatment of autism. CSM's weekly music groups were developed and are run by CSM OT Clayton Englar, who has been a professional musician in the DC area since 1980, and performed and recorded with his own jazz ensembles as well as other groups in a wide range of styles. Each class has a scheduled 30 minute session in the dedicated music room at CSM, where they have the opportunity to hear and respond to a wide range of music, with a focus on a particular part of the world and/or a specific musical genre each month. Using a large collection of percussion and string instruments, the students are encouraged to play along with the music, and work on rhythmic and dynamic concepts (slow/fast, loud/soft, etc.) as appropriate for their level. In addition to the therapeutic value, several OT-related skill areas are addressed during music group, including fine motor, grasp, bilateral integration, gross motor coordination, visual attention, sequencing, sensory modulation and self-regulation, communication, reciprocal play, and social interaction.
The dedicated multi-sensory room at CSM is available to all students, and contains several visual, auditory, tactile, and movement-based materials including suspended equipment, various size and textured balls, audio-visual devices, etc. As with all the specialty programs at our school, this area has been shown to be beneficial on multiple levels for individuals with autism. The room is used with one student and staff member at a time, as a quiet space to help them explore and appropriately use the several modalities available - for both self-regulation and as a leisure activity.
The Community School of Maryland is proud of the accomplishments of its students in this year's Montgomery County 4-H program. Select students participated in a weekly summer gardening program with the Master Gardeners of Montgomery County, where they planted, watered, and picked numerous type of vegetables. The students worked diligently to care for their crops and also learned about the many uses for them. The program culminated with several students earning ribbons at the Montgomery County Fair for the vegetable entries they submitted. CSM students are very appreciative of the time spent with the MC Master Gardeners and are already looking forward to next years program.