Katherine Szidon, Andrea Ruppar, and Leann Smith
Lakeview High School is a medium-sized high school in a rural farming community. The staff at Lakeview meets at the beginning of each school year to discuss building-level professional development plans. This year, Lakeview’s special education team has requested to focus its professional development time on improving special education services for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The team is seeing an increasing number of students with ASD who are highly skilled academically yet have complex needs around social behavior, self-management, and independent living—skills necessary for success in postsecondary environments. The team recognizes that this type of instruction does not seem to fit easily in the existing high school schedule, and the goals that the teachers write to increase student self-management skills and develop social awareness are difficult to implement. Yet, given the importance of these social, emotional, and communication skills, the team plans to work together to develop better programming for its students with ASD.