CLARION (March2011) – Riverview Intermediate Unit #6 (RIU6) in Clarion, PA has been awarded accreditation for their implementation of the Competent Learner Model (CLM) for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and will be featured in a video to be used to disseminate the model worldwide.

On March 27, 2011, Vicci Tucci, president of Tucci Learning Solutions, presented RIU6 Board President, Julie Hartley (Clarion Area School District), with the accreditation plaque. “RIU6 made the investment in CLM and in the education of learners with ASD and it’s proven to be worthwhile,” said Tucci. “There are 24 out of 29 intermediate units in Pennsylvania currently participating in the CLM, but RIU6 is the first to be accredited and only the third organization worldwide to receive this honor.”

The CLM accreditation is the highest honor an organization can achieve for its implementation efforts. According to Executive Director, Dr. John Cornish, “We’re thrilled to bring this quality program to our rural area. The accreditation will allow us to extend this model outside of our area and train others because we’ve proven that we’re modeling the top standards of learning.”

The CLM offers behavior analytic instructional practices to teams serving learners with significant challenges. By emphasizing a team approach to learning, students benefit from professionals and paraprofessionals in the classroom all using the same methods aimed at increasing student achievement. RIU6 first began an Autism Support Classroom using the CLM in conjunction with other proven instructional methods in 2008. Since that time, the program has expanded to include eight classrooms located in Clarion-Limestone, Clarion, Cranberry, Titusville, and Union School Districts and support services to Punxsutawney Area School District’s classroom.

“RIU6 continues to show improvement and innovation in their Autism Support classrooms,” said Tucci. “It’s wonderful to see how the classroom staff, speech therapists, occupational therapists and administration work to support this program.”

The RIU6 Autism Support staff also provides training for teachers and paraprofessionals and offers consultation services and recommendations to districts on how to best support students diagnosed with ASD so that they can be educated with their academic peers.

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition,” said Cornish. “The Autism Support staff had done a wonderful job implementing this program and this accreditation reinforces the hard work that has gone into developing and expanding our classrooms.”

Autism affects an estimated 1 in 150 births. It is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. It is important to keep in mind that autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees – this is why early diagnosis is so crucial. By learning the signs, a child can begin benefiting from one of the many specialized intervention programs.

For more information on the RIU6 Autism Support program or any of the RIU6 services, call Riverview Intermediate Unit at 814-226-7103 or visit the website at www.riu6.org.

RIU6 Autism Support staff (L to R): Natasha Cochran, Beth McNamara, Lisa Saxton, Angie Schultz, Cristin Leahy, Cybill Swab, Vicci Tucci, Lori Mathieson, Kayla Simpson, Lacretia Lachnicht, Roni Wescoat, Tina Moon. Not pictured: Shannon Gallagher, Julie Hovis, Jill Shull, Greta Tanner, Brad Seybert, Jim Masquelier, Jason Edmonds, Geri Nasser, Mary Ann Jordan, Jennifer Billingsley, Hope McGee, Lori Ditrich, Kathy Walton, Toni Riskus, and Sally Flaherty.

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