Odyssey Learning Center is a private school for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ages 5 to 22. Odyssey is committed to enhancing the lives of children with autism, using a collaborative approach to educate and nurture them in their journey towards independence with integrity and dignity.
Odyssey provides an intensive, individualized educational program developed for each student based on assessments to determine skill deficits, behaviors interfering with learning, and general adaptive functioning. Our program has a strong behavioral basis and uses a multi-dimensional approach to enhance the learning of all students. Some of the components of the program include: community-based instruction, independent living skills training, vocational skills training, academics and a transition program. Odyssey Learning Center is dedicated to the principles of Least Restrictive Environment for all students and works with school district personnel, parents and family members towards that goal.
Our program structure is unique in the fact that we treat the whole child, taking into consideration physical needs, relational and social-emotional skills, formal communication skills, prerequisite and advanced learning, and academic skills. Our overall educational goals for children diagnosed with autism are essentially the same as educational goals for all children: Opportunities to learn greater independence, age appropriate social participation and academic achievement. Various assessments, curriculum and teaching methodologies are combined to determine current levels of student functioning and to develop individualized goals and objectives for meeting unique areas of student need. In developing an individualized education program for each student, Odyssey adheres to both California State Standards and the Special Education Administrators County Offices (SEACO) adapted standards for learners with challenges. To ensure the highest standards in the implementation our program, we provide a low ratio of student to staff.
Instruction in the community is an important facet of the educational plan for each student. Appropriate skills are taught and reinforced in a multitude of environments. They are carefully selected to provide opportunities for learning new skills and generalizing previously mastered skills.
Additionally, this provides an opportunity for the students to practice appropriate social skills with members of the community in a variety of situations. There are a variety of community based activities that the students currently participate in, which include but are not limited to: shopping at the local grocery store, visiting and enjoying the local parks, picking out/returning books to the library, and utilizing the recycling center. There are seasonal special outings like Apple Hill and Bishop’s Pumpkin Patch as well.
Independent Living Skills Training
Our program is uniquely suited to develop independent living skills including; cooking, self-help and self-care skills. Specific goals are identified in these areas for each student. Our highly structured program provides a systematic way of teaching these functional skills.
Vocational Training / Transition Program
All classrooms at Odyssey Learning Center teach age-appropriate vocational skills. We begin with small, simple assembly tasks, and then move into more complex tasks that increase in difficulty. These skills culminate with vocational tasks in the school, as well as jobs in the community. Our vocational program is an integral part of the student’s transition from school to adult programs. Skills important in the successful transition to adult programs and jobs are taught and reinforced within the program.
Odyssey feels that communication is the key to opening doors. We utilize a variety of modalities to support our students’ efforts in communication. Our students’ express themselves through the use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), sign language, AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices, and verbal communication for those that have the ability. Communication is taught across all environments throughout the day.
Odyssey offers a variety of gross motor activities including swimming and sports programs. Each is adapted to the unique needs of each individual student. Activities are based on observations, formal assessments and planning with the IEP team. Some of the unique programs utilized are yoga, Swiss ball exercises and various exercise equipment: treadmill, trampoline, bikes, skates, etc.
Activities to develop fine motor skills are incorporated into our program on a daily basis. This global skill, if under developed, can affect all areas of a student’s daily activities. It incorporates everything from picking up items with the appropriate grasp, to writing and tying shoes. We utilize a variety of methodology to enhance each individual student’s success, such as Handwriting Without Tears. Additionally, the Occupational Therapist collaborates with Teachers regarding the integration of fine motor skill development in the classroom.
Many students at Odyssey Learning Center exhibit some challenging behaviors. To assist with this, Odyssey has full time Behavior Specialists on staff. Utilizing a collaborative approach, behavior plans are developed for each student. The Behavior Specialist continues to do regular observations to ensure that behavior plans are always up to date and appropriate for each student. The Behavior Specialist attends all IEP meetings and assists in the training of new staff.
Our goal at Odyssey is to reduce inappropriate or excessive behaviors and replace them with more appropriate behaviors. This is accomplished in a variety of ways using individualized behavior management techniques as specified in each child’s behavior plan. Relevant data is maintained, reviewed with the behavior specialist and used to modify the behavior plan as needed.
All staff participate in behavior management workshops to enable them to modify environments and provide support necessary to develop appropriate behaviors in the students. All staff are Safety-Care trained and certified.
Odyssey Learning Center’s philosophy on reinforcement for appropriate behaviors does not include edibles. We have found that there are many other reinforcers that our students find more rewarding than food.
As with any student who reaches the end of their public school education, our students do so with a graduation ceremony. The ceremony is complete with cap and gown, pomp and circumstance and the whole school cheering them on to the next level of their journey. Often the student has been with us for many years and it is a bittersweet event; knowing we may never see them again, but taking comfort in knowing they are prepared for their next step as an adult. There are many tears of joy and sorrow among the staff, student and family members.