Anyone use the STAR program?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by SpecialPreskoo, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jul 16, 2010

    I just finished 2 days of training for the STAR program...
    http://www.starautismprogram.com/

    Anyone use this in your school? We just got the stuff at the end of school. After training, I'm ready to go set up my room differently and get on the ball with this once school starts! I'm really excited. I feel like I've really been trained this time!!! I've been to different autism training sessions/workshops/etc. over the past few years but this time, I think I went to the RIGHT THING!!! Woooohoooo!! I even talked my SPE coordinator into sending my paras with me! :D YEAH BUDDY!!!! We learned soooooooooo much! A lot of it, we were doing anyway but just didn't know it. :D
     
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  3. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Jul 16, 2010

    I have 10 students... 5 of whom have Autism. I'm planning on using the STAR Program curriculum with three of those five (the youngest three) this fall and using some modified stuff with a couple of my other students (one on the spectrum and one not).

    I have not yet used it but am excited about the program and the manual is AMAZING! I find that it did a great job of explaining things that I sort of understood before but have a much better understanding of now (pivotal response training in particular). I have not done any training sessions on the program though. Sounds like they do an amazing job.

    I haven't used it but would love to compare notes as we get going using it this fall (even though I will have to modify the use as I won't be using it with a whole class).
     
  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jul 16, 2010

    Hey, PM!
     
  5. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2010

    I was STAR trained 4 summer ago, and have been using parts of the STAR program for 3 years in my kindergarten autism classroom. I do really like certain components of the program, and have found it a valuable starting point, especially for brand-new, never-been-in-program-before students. How cool that your paras got to go with you!

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    FUNCTIONAL ROUTINES:
    This has probably been the most valuable part of the curriculum to me. I love the breakdown of routines provided and it is a great tool to explain to others the many steps involved in something simple like handwashing. Also, keeps everyone on the same page when it comes to coaching the kids and data collection. I have scanned the data sheets into my computer and modified them for certain students (added social components for my higher kids, what verbal visual cue to give a kid, different steps to certain routines to reflect our school environment, etc.) Wednesday is our routine data day and it is so easy to be consistent about it. Foolproof!

    PRT:
    This is where I think you will have a big advantage that your paras got to go with you. PRT is sometimes REALLY hard to do - you know, with those kids who are difficult to engage? The ones where you are always looking, watching, thinking, sometimes chasing, trying to be creative and get them to even look at you? I think it is really hard to teach someone else how to do!!

    I dunno, this is the part of STAR I struggle with the most. I totally get PRT from a theoretical standpoint (follow child's lead, use what kids are motivated by, use that to help structure communication and social interaction). I think a PRT session, as shown in the training, is a GREAT jumping off point to establish a relationship with the child, assess likes/dislikes, enjoy each other and have fun. However, I think it has some major shortcomings. I don't think it is always practical for each kid to have 20 minutes of 1:1 PRT daily (unless you have WAY more aides than I do!!) I think some kids need PECS or other functional communication incorporated - verbally, they may be on the babbling stage forever, and the time would be best spent teaching them to initiate and communicate functionally.

    I also wish that there were an actual curriculum progression/breakdown of play SKILLS, because I don't think PRT alone helps a severely impacted child learn to expand play and leisure repertoire to interact, even minimally, successfully with another child. I have basically made up my own using Structured Teaching and toys and games I have modified myself. I call this period "Social Skills" for my lowest kids, I do it in groups of 2, and we alternate between doing a "Play Schedule" of 3 play boxes with toys I am working on teaching, and then "Free Play," with is like 5 minutes of PRT. For some kids I add a step of asking a third peer to play and try to coach the peer on how to coach the children.

    I also don't bother with the data collection as presented by the Star Program. I made my own data sheets for keeping track of what toys child plays with independently, with adult, with peer coaching, and with peer independently. And I have a list of target words/PECS for some kids, but I don't write down every single noise they make every day.

    DISCRETE TRIAL:
    I liked the training for this, and, again, think it will be very valuable that your paras got to go with you!

    I think the curriculum, as it is laid out, is a GREAT place to start with kids who are just entering a program. Love how the folders are laid out with exactly what to do/say. I have a page on the kids' PECS book or choice board with their specific reinforcer choices. We use it with the token board and it works wonderfully! I also made a "work schedule" for the kids to show how many "folders" (programs) they need to do with me.

    Academic skills wise, I have used almost all of Level 1 and parts of Level 2 and 3. I don't think the materials are particularly engaging, and have had more success using the basic program, but tracking down motivating materials (like the coloring sheets in the coloring program, for example).

    Then, I have had at least one kid every year that gets to the auditory comprehension part of Level 1 and just bombs. The kid that can imitate actions, imitate action with object, match obj/obj, pic/pic, pic/obj, but just CANNOT seem to understand "give me cup," etc. Two things I found that really help with this:

    1. scrap the cards that come with the kit for the time being and use pictures of things the kid is really interested in (Thomas the tank engine and friends pictures worked really well for one kid!) Then, as they learn the process of listening to words, slowly introduce the kit cards back in

    OR

    2. Use teachersk's match card system. I kid you not. It is amazing. I had a kid learn to match to picture, then read over 100 words in 2 months this way after we had spent the previous 7 months struggling with the auditory comp. business.

    I also made my own data sheets. I used to keep track, like they teach you in training, of every trial, every prompt level, etc. Now I just keep track once a week of each program we are working on, doing a cold read of sets of 10 and give them a percentage. That's how I write most of my IEP goals anyway, and I find that keeping track of everything gives me pages and pages of kind of useless data.

    Sorry for the novel! I guess in summary, I think that the program is a very good start, but, like anything else, you will definitely have to modify it to suit your program and students, and I don't think every step or every component is necessary for everybody. Good luck and have fun with it this year!
     
  6. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Jul 17, 2010

    Thanks for all the great information :). Much appreciated as its nice to have these thoughts going in.
     
  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jul 17, 2010

    YEAH! Thanks for the info and insight!

    Now we know who to come to when we have questions! :D
     

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