The CREST Experience
CREST carries on a tradition and successful methodology created by two pioneers in the field of special education. Over 60 years ago, long before the term autism was widely used, Aleen Agranowitz and Gladys Gleason started working with children who had speech and language difficulties. They pioneered therapeutic approaches based on individual needs while maintaining respect for every student. The founders of CREST spent over 50 years working side by side with Aleen and Gladys in developing strategies to best meet the unique needs of their students. CREST continues to embody the legacy of that work.
CREST’s school program is designed to provide special education and therapies for students whose needs cannot, or are not, being met in their local school district. Students who attend CREST Education Center are provided an environment that allows them to maximize their potential and become productive members of society. The classroom programs are created to provide intensive, individualized instruction in all academic areas, making use of strengths while remediating areas of need. Strategies that are developed to mediate behavioral issues and promote socialization are embedded within the classroom. Individual or small group therapies in the areas of speech, language, behavior and motor skills focus on further individualizing and intensifying their educational experience.
CREST does not rely upon a specific approach but rather uses a diverse approach that allows each student to demonstrate their true ability and areas of interest rather than being defined by either their diagnosis or their symptomology. As each student is unique, the approach to their educational experiences must be equally unique – this is a hallmark of CREST Education Center.
Classrooms are arranged to meet the individual needs of students with designated learning centers. Classroom assistants are utilized as needed to provide reinforcement, repetition, and behavioral support. Therapies may be delivered in separate “offices” designed for the purpose of the specific therapy, in the classroom environment, or in a natural environment. In all activities, collaboration between the special education teacher, the therapists, parents and any other supporting personnel is of utmost importance. Integration into a natural environment is also utilized for community integration, whether for social or vocational activities.
Individual and/or group therapies are provided as defined in student IEPs. CREST does acknowledge that skills emphasized in the therapy setting must be generalized in all environments.
Communication skills are fundamental to all activities throughout the day. Students are encouraged to use whatever means of communication they have to interact, ask and answer questions, make comments, establish social relationships and express opinions. Communication can take the form of verbal language, written language, sign language, technology incorporated in communication devices, gestures, pictures or whatever other form or combination of forms that are effective for the individual student.
Appropriate behaviors and social skills are incorporated in all aspects of the day as students learn about turn taking and understanding their own emotional reactions; as well as the emotions of others. Students are taught to recognize non-verbal cues through feed-back and modeling of classroom staff and peers.
Physical activities are included inside the classroom as well as in specially designed areas. Emphasis is on building gross motor skills that allow students to participate in individual or group games and activities.