Special Education Department develops HART and HaBIT to better support students with special needs
The Special Education Department staff members who support our schools have developed two programs to better serve students with autism and students with emotional disabilities. The Hampton Autism Support Team, or HART, was developed prior to the 2015-16 school year. The Hampton Behavior Intervention Team, or HaBIT, was developed at the beginning of this school year. April Fry, special education coordinator, and Kaylan Long, behavior specialist, help coordinate the HART program. Catherine Edler, special education coordinator, and Dever King, behavior specialist, coordinate the HaBIT program.
“HART works with students with behaviors related to autism,” Fry said. “HART is called in to help a school after evidence-based strategies are used to keep students in the least restrictive environment. If those evidence-based strategies are not successful, HART steps in to help. The goal is to strengthen classroom practices using structures already in place.”
She said that HART looks at all possible functions of behavior. She added that in one situation HART helped a student who frequently left the classroom.
“HART determined the function of the behavior was a sensory issue, so they put in place the necessary supports for the student,” she said.
Since the HART program began, 91 percent of the students served have stayed in their current placement. This statistic has attracted the attention of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Autism Center for Excellence (ACE), who has selected HART as one of Virginia’s five exceptional autism programs featured in a VCU-ACE webcast.
In addition to a special education coordinator and behavior specialist, HART includes special education instructional coaches, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and an assistive technology specialist.
“We want to help students access the curriculum and their educational programs while keeping them in the least restrictive environment,” Fry said.
Edler said that HaBIT works similar to HART and helps students with emotional disabilities and with behaviors not specially related to autism.
“We work with the staff and look at what the child is communicating to us with that behavior,” she said. “We do a lot of observations. It may take someone else’s eyes to see what might be causing the student’s behaviors.”
She added that in addition to observations, HaBIT and HART provide coaching in a classroom setting.
“We want to empower the teachers,” she said.
In addition to a special education coordinator and behavior specialist, HaBIT includes special education coaches and an occupational therapist.
Edler added that the teams for HART and HaBIT meet monthly to look at concerns and brainstorm solutions.
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