The Nexus Autism Intervention System (NAIS)
The Nexus Autism Intervention System is empirically driven and uses behavior analytic tools, principles and methods toward realizing the broadest possible aspirations for children; i.e., 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 – all to the best of each youngster’s capabilities. It starts with small steps – an uncountable many – and many more – and each small step is folded into later steps and those into even later steps and so on and so on – so that from each step and sets of combined steps emerge greater and greater complex abilities. Herein lies, in part, the beauty and power of behavioral intervention.
Ivar Lovaas and colleagues set the path and paved much of the way in our understanding of how to go about effectively designing intervention for children with autism. Many others have done much to broaden and extend the path. The NAIS lends its voice to the effort and offers additional considerations for points along the way, particularly in areas of advanced language and cognitive development. As such, the NAIS engineers integrated relations between learned language skills and concepts. These relations create a foundation for advances in verbal reasoning, inferential reasoning and toward building a theory of mind — skills necessary for successful social and academic integration.
The NAIS is directed to:
1. Help children increase focus and attention ; so that children are better able to sustain attention on tasks which require increased time demands, social demands and problem solving demands.
2. Help children develop leisure skills; so that children learn to engage in varous activities for personal enjoyment (pretend, arts and crafts, electronics, workbooks etc.).
3. Help children develop skills needed for community involvement; children participate in regular outings to local stores where they make purchases and converse with merchants and new persons they meet.
4. Help children develop basic and abstract language and conceptual abilties; from the basics of naming and requesting – to making comparisons, talking about the things they did, are doing, will do and the related reasons for their doings – and eventually speculating about the doings of others and the many things in between.
5. Help children develop social skills; so that children learn to play as pretenders, jokesters, good sports and desirers of winning – to be show-er offers, bosses, directors – to be helpers, cooperators, pointer-outers teachers, team players etc..
6. Help resolve nagging problems such as echolalia, pronoun reversals and to reduce problems of stereotypy.
The Nexus Center provides a therapeutic milieu in which all children and staff participate. This means that beyond the one-to-one teaching arrangement there are prescribed (and non-prescribed) encounters with others – confederates are everywhere – to challenge, support, connive and play with the youngsters throughout day. When one walks into the Nexus Center, one sees children talking with staff and other children, 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.