Well before language emerges, children begin to apprehend the intentions of others and to make sense of the world. They begin to recognize patterns and make predictions. Their comprehension of the world grows by doing, using, listening and watching… and once language is roused, it piggybacks on the things they have come to understand. However, children with autism struggle (to varying degrees) to make sense of things. Consequently, the language that would typically piggyback on their grasp of things lags correspondingly. Additionally, recognition of social patterns and their meanings remain elusive. The Nexus Autism Intervention System (NAIS) is engineered so that children learn to make sense the world, to find the world more predictable, meaningful, inviting and fun and to express this all in language.
The Nexus Autism Intervention System
The NAIS emphasizes three elemental aspects which are woven into the fabric of the larger structural features of the system. These aspects include, 1) ‘active learning’, so that words, ideas and relations are gradually and systematically fleshed out within experiences of doing, making, moving, asking, explaining, reporting, describing, traveling, planning, solving, searching, etc., 2) all learning is mediated through socially constructed events and 3) ‘Intrinsic program coherence’ (Lund, 2001), wherein each learning experience is extended and incorporated into an evolving, cascading and expanding nexus of meaning.
The NAIS includes three larger structural features. The first is the NAIS curriculum (publication target date is Dec. 2013). The NAIS curriculum addresses the specific difficulties with which children on the spectrum struggle, i.e., concept formation, the challenge of grasping the reasons for and meanings of things, the intentions of others and the corresponding language and social abilities related to those understandings.
A second feature of NAIS is the unambiguous use of behavioral methods and tools which offer the best teaching technologies available for youngsters on the spectrum
The third feature of the NAIS is its implementation. The NAIS Center provides a therapeutic milieu in which all children and staff participate. This means that while instruction is one-to-one, improvement in cognitive, social and language development requires systematic increases in more complex interaction with persons, places and things beyond the one-to-one teaching arrangement. Therefore, when one walks into the NAIS Center, one sees children talking with staff and other children, learning or playing with others, returning from other parts of the building, the bagel store, post office, library etc., In that same milieu, children, instructors and coordinators are seen along side of and on the floor with director Alan Schnee while he works with the Nexus team to improve each child’s understanding of and participation in an ever-changing world.
The NAIS provides the structural and integrative support necessary to give rise to the apprehension of meaning, purpose and related language…the abilities necessary for best outcomes. This is the hope and the heart of the Nexus Autism Intervention System.