Here are a number of Frequently Asked Questions and answers from TGS:
Why did you choose the name, Temple Grandin School? View answer »
We understand that some may have a limited association with the name Temple Grandin; some may only think of her as autistic. We see her as transcending that label. She is a unique individual that breaks the mold. Her autism does not define or limit her potential. Mainstream American press includes her in its list of heroes. Time magazine chose her as one (#31) of its 100 Most Influential People for 2010. Her example reminds us that each person is unique, with talents waiting to be nurtured. She is iconic, colorful, fascinating…and someone the world is interested in. Her gracious agreement to let us name a school after her has opened doors we never expected.
How is Temple Grandin involved with your school? View answer »
Dr. Grandin’s educational experiences are a primary source of guidance for our educational model. We have met with her on several occasions, and aspire to accurately represent her in the program we are developing. While not currently directly involved in program development, she is following our progress with interest as her very busy schedule allows. She has agreed to speak at the school in the fall. We are proud of our association with Temple Grandin, and hope that it will inspire many families to explore what we have to offer these unique students!
Will my student be labeled as autistic if he or she attends Temple Grandin School? View answer »
Not all of TGS students are on the Autism Spectrum. Regardless of our strengths and challenges, in our world, there are no guarantees that people won’t stereotype, pigeonhole or limit someone based on a label or diagnosis. As teachers and parents of these wonderful students, we understand how labels can be both hurtful and helpful, depending on how they are used. Here is what we can guarantee at Temple Grandin School:
- We will always see students as individuals who richly deserve our best daily.
- We will employ dedicated mentor-educators who lead with their hearts.
- We will never limit our students’ potential by “tracking,” labeling or otherwise predetermining what’s possible.
- We will teach students to be proud of their strengths and gifts, and give them the ability to maximize those strengths.
- We will help students find the courage to address their challenges by providing a supportive academic and social environment for learning.
- We will help students understand and accept themselves and each other as they are. We talk about labels, how they are used, positively and negatively, and strategies for how to deal with others when they are rude, cruel or simply don’t understand.
- Bullying is NEVER tolerated and is extremely rare amongst these students.
Why do you have behavioral criteria for admission to Temple Grandin School? Don’t all students with ASD have behavior challenges? Would Temple Grandin even be able to be accepted to your school? View answer »
Many students with ASD do exhibit challenging behaviors in the school setting. However, we believe many of these behaviors have their basis in maladaptive responses to poorly designed educational environments. At TGS, we provide an ASD-friendly environment designed to minimize behavior problems and maximize learning. In addition to our small class sizes and understanding teachers, we offer truly engaging academic work, organizational support, direct teaching in social skills and coping strategies, and sensory-sensitive classrooms and work spaces.
At this time, as a small start-up, our program does not include behavioral staff or therapy. Because we desire to serve all of our students well, we are currently unable to accept students with significant, recurring behavior concerns or co-occurring mental health diagnoses not actively managed by medication and/or therapy. If you have a question about how TGS’ behavioral criteria might apply to your student, please ask us! It is definitely not black-and-white, and we will work with you if we feel we can adequately meet your student’s needs within our current program and resources. And yes, we do think Temple Grandin would have made the cut at TGS!
My student can get upset and be unable to work for periods of time until he’s calmed down. He does better if he can get away from other students for a while and have an understanding adult to help him understand what happened so he can calm down. Can you provide for this need at Temple Grandin School? View answer »
Yes. We provide all of our teachers with specialized training to help them understand and support students with ASD. In addition, each student at TGS is assigned a staff adviser. Advisers work with their students to communicate needs of this nature to all TGS staff members. In the event that a student becomes upset and needs to leave the classroom, he or she would be encouraged to go to an agreed-upon place to calm down. A TGS support staff person will be available to support the student to engage in self-selected calming strategies and help diffuse and debrief the situation as needed so the student can reengage with his or her learning.
My student insists that rules be followed by everyone around him. He tattles on other students and they get mad at him. How might you handle this at Temple Grandin School? View answer »
We will have very clear and consistently enforced rules. We would discuss tattling directly as part of our social skills curriculum, addressing the different perspectives to be considered in this sort of situation.
My student has been enrolled in a large public school. He is very stressed at school and frequently argues or refuses to do work. I do not know how well he would do in a smaller program. How might we determine if TGS is a good match for him?
Many students come to TGS after negative experiences in large public schools, or less-flexible private settings. The best way to experience the difference TGS makes is to come and see for yourself. We invite potential students to shadow at TGS for a day…or a week. During the shadow period, the potential student is paired with one or more current TGS students to participate in the classes and activities they are most interested in. TGS teachers observe their interactions in and out of the classroom. Most students who visit find it a refreshing change, and a place where they can be accepted and feel comfortable, not stressed.
My student is extremely disorganized. He forgets his things everywhere and is unlikely to remember to write down his assignments. What are your expectations for organizational skills and how do you help students with this problem? View answer »
We provide a very clear and specific structure for supporting organizational skills. Teachers are consistent from classroom to classroom in the ways they give and collect assignments, and homework is always posted on the school’s homework blog for students or parents to check. We have high expectations for our students and a challenging curriculum, but we provide the support for learning to meet those high expectations. Everyone has to start somewhere. Often we find that because of other issues (e.g. social non-compliance) students with AS are taken out of the exciting, higher level courses that excite and motivate them. TGS’ strength based learning approach redirects that motivation such that often these issues are diminished.
Does Temple Grandin School accept part-time students? View answer »
We will consider part-time students on a case-by-case basis. We understand that for some students, attending full-time classes is too stressful. For others, a part-time schedule at Temple Grandin may be needed in order to accommodate advanced classes taken at the college level. We believe it is important for students to feel a sense of belonging in our school community, so it is our goal to have students enrolled as close to full-time as is manageable for them.
Does Temple Grandin School accept students who are not on the autism spectrum? View answer »
Absolutely! We believe our small classes, nurturing mentor-teachers, organizational and social skills support, individualized strength-based learning and opportunities for community involvement are beneficial educational components for many students. Our program is especially well suited for students with Asperger’s Syndrome, but this kind of learning environment works exceptionally well (often better than even “high performing” traditional schools) for most students.
How much help or guidance the students will get for their PLUS ONE day? View answer »
TGS will ensure that this happens well and appropriately. There will be responsibility that the student & family will take on, but TGS will ensure that appropriate choices are made and on-site supervision for the students is appropriate. TGS will provide a suggested list of providers and help with costs. The level of responsibility the student will be expected to show will be different at different ages & for different students given their own skills/challenges.
Will specialists be brought in to teach for the PLUS ONE day, or will the school be closed on those days? View answer »
The exact schedule for the school is yet to be determined, but the school will be open. Some providers will use the school itself as the location for their activities; for instance we are already in conversation with Arts & Drama providers along these lines. The current plan is that there will always be at least one free offering on site to accommodate those needing five day a week scheduling.
How will the students at TGS fulfill foreign language requirements for University entrance? View answer »
How this will be fulfilled will depend on the needs/interests of TGS students. We want to be open to students wanting to study Mandarin (Chinese), Arabic, Swahili, etc. So, this will be an option in the PLUS ONE program. If there is a significant number of students interested in a particular language and we can find (which is very likely) a teacher, we would bring them in to teach that class or make arrangements to enable that. With a program as individualized as TGS, while the complexity increases, so do the opportunities.
How will the students at TGS get Physical Education? View answer »
Students will have ample opportunity for physical activity. Our location lends itself to being outside and active throughout the day. This kind of thing will be incorporated into many of the classes and classroom activities. Actual Physical Education will happen, and will be required, outside of the TGS core academic structure. At least one trimester per year of some form of organized Physical Educational activity will be required, but it can be in an area of interest of the individual student, from Yoga classes to Tai Chi to club Football, Soccer or Basketball and more.