PA Teachers - Differences Between SPED Classrooms?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by teachersk, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

    Jun 1, 2007
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    Apr 30, 2012


    I just moved to PA and I am trying to find my way around the PA Education System. As I apply to jobs, I am coming across terms that are much different in definition than what I've come across in the past.

    Now... in PA...

    Everything is "Support."

    So, I understand "Emotional Support" = ED class, "Autistic Support"= ASD class, etc.

    Here's where my question is:

    What is the difference between "Life Skills Support" and "Multiple Disabilities Support?" What would make a student qualify for one class over the other? Do most districts serve students with severe disabilities in their public school programs, or are they sent to out of district special programs?

    Also, do the "Support" teachers support students in the general ed setting? If I were the "Autistic Support" teacher would I only have my 8 kids in my self-contained classroom, or would I have additional kids with autism who were in regular ed/resource/etc. to "support" on my caseload?
  3. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

    Nov 1, 2009
    Likes Received:

    Apr 30, 2012

    Haha, yes, everything is support in PA! Don't know where that came from. :)

    In my area (suburban Philly), life skills is usually a class for students with MR. They might have some concurrent disabilities, but the life skills need is the primary one. For instance, I've seen many kids who are autistic in life skills classrooms, but they tend to be on the higher-functioning side and usually have better communication skills. MDS is usually a class for students with either only severe MR or MR with significant physical disabilities. When I worked in MDS over the summer, we had a student who was blind and had several birth defects, one who was blind and had CP, several who had CP and some kind of seizure disorder, a student with autism, and a student with Downs Syndrome. All were nonverbal and had very little expressive language (a typical goal that we worked on was "touch/look at cup".

    As for your question about inclusion, it really depends on the district. Most districts around here use inclusion settings for learning support. The rest will vary. In one of the districts around here, for instance, an Autistic Support teacher has 6 students in a self-contained classroom, in another district the kids are in and out of inclusion all day, and in the district I student taught in the Autistic Support teacher was more of a consultant and ran various social skills groups and interventions throughout the district!

    Finally, here in PA is there is this lovely entity called an intermediate unit. The IUs usually serve a county or two and often run some of the specialized special ed classrooms. Depending on the services the local IU offers, the students might receive support through the IU. That's how it is for the more severe students in my IU... MDS, AS, LSS, etc is usually handled by the IU. In our neighboring IU, the districts have those classes and IU runs early intervention programs.

    Anyway, the lesson here is... while in PA, ask about the district's method of program delivery! Otherwise you'll never know. :)

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