Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Recognizing that all children benefit from a multi-faceted approach to learning, the Collier County Public Schools provides each child with an individualized program that combines systematic instructional techniques based upon the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), visual cueing systems, communication training and direct social skills instruction. We endorse the use of research based methodologies with empirical evidence proven effective for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). No one specific methodology is endorsed over another. An integrated delivery model consisting of specialized services (occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education, assistive technology, and speech-language pathology) are collaboratively delivered in the child’s educational environment.

    As a general rule, students with autism respond better in a context where there is structure and clear guidelines regarding expectations for appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Our classroom environments include systems or materials, such as written or picture schedules that can assist students in comprehending and predicting the flow and sequence of activities. Our highly qualified instructional staff provides interventions and instruction to develop functional skills that will be of immediate and ongoing value in the context of daily living. This typically includes strategies for enhancing a student’s ability to communicate, to understand language, and to get along socially in complex home, school, work, and community settings.

    To the greatest extent possible, family members are encouraged to participate in all aspects of assessment, curriculum planning, instruction, and monitoring. Parents and other family members very often have the most useful information about their child’s individual's history and learning characteristics.

    Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors have been estimated to occur in as many as 1 in 68 individuals. Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism's occurrence. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Students with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. The disorder makes it difficult for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injuries behavior may be present. An individual Positive Behavior Plan (PBIP) based upon a functional behavior assessment (FBA) is implemented for each student’s target behaviors. Data collected includes ABC (antecedent, behavior, consequences) checklists; scatter plots; and/or time samplings.

    Individuals with autism and ASD vary widely in ability and personality. Individuals can exhibit severe cognitive deficits or be extremely gifted in their intellectual and academic accomplishments. While many individuals prefer isolation and tend to withdraw from social contact, others show high levels of affection and enjoyment in social situations. Some people with autism appear lethargic and slow to respond, but others are very active and seem to interact constantly with preferred aspects of their environment.

    Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects, and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Its prevalence rate makes autism one of the most common developmental disabilities. Yet most of the public, including many professionals in the medical, educational, and vocational fields, are still unaware of how autism affects people and how they can effectively work with individuals with autism. (From Autism Society of America,

    A continuum of services is available for all ASD students and they are served in their least restrictive environment (LRE). In Collier County, clustered ASD classes are available in seven elementary schools, two middle school and two high school. A Behavior Analyst / Management Specialist is on staff at all ASD cluster sites.

    All clustered ASD classes are language-literacy based with an emphasis on academic learning, independence, and social skill development. Skill development is provided through the implementation of systematic instructional techniques (e.g., attending skills, discrete trials, differential reinforcement, prompting and task analysis), structured teaching (physical arrangement of the environment e.g., use of visual schedules, independent work stations), social skills (e.g., Skills Streaming, Social Stories) and instruction in communication (e.g., augmentative devices, Picture Exchange Communication System, verbal behavior, sign language).


    Regionally Located Schools within Collier County with Special Classes & Staff
    for Serving Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders *
    PreK - 5  Calusa Park Elementary,  Corkscrew Elementary, Golden Terrace Elementary,  Highlands Elementary,
    Lake Park Elementary,  Lely Elementary, Pelican Marsh Elementary, and Vineyards Elementary
    Middle School Pine Ridge Middle and Cypress Palm Middle
    High School Naples High and Barron Collier High

    *Some students within the autism spectrum are served in their home zoned schools as determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) team.

    District Contact
    Nichole Spencer, ESE Coordinator
    (239) 377-0513


    Information & Resources
    Environmental Safety Precautions -  
                   C.A.R.E. Information Sheet  |   C.A.R.E. Form
                   Project Lifesaver
    Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD)
    A community based project that provides information and consultation to individuals diagnosed within an autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities. **Resource Page**
    Autism Spectrum Disorder & Hurricane Safety
    AAIDD (formerly AAMR): American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    Autism Internet Modules
    Autism Speaks 

    Autism Spectrum Disorders - PDF 

    What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

    CARD - Autism Checklist
    CARD - What Causes Autism?

    CARD - How is Autism Diagnosed?

    CARD Fact Sheet: Positive Behavior Support
    Autism Society of America 
    Facts About Autism
    Florida Standards and Access Points

    Visit the related Florida State Board of Education Rule. Open the Autism Spectrum Disorder Word document to read the Rule.

    Naples Botanical Garden
    Naples Botanical Garden - Plan your visit
    Naples Equestrian Challenge
    Special Olympics - Collier County
    *** Athlete Eligibility and Registration Forms***