Hearst CES (Autism) Program

Hearst is one of several schools in the DC public school system to provide a program for students with autism in all grades.

Communication and Education Support (CES) classrooms in DCPS have smaller student to teacher ratios per classroom, with each classroom having one classroom teacher and two paraprofessionals. (Please note that students must be assigned to classrooms in our CES program via Early Stages/DCPS and cannot enroll directly in those classrooms.)

We offer a wide range of placements to accommodate students’ needs and offer a highly individualized program.  All students in our program attend lunch, recess, and have daily specials with their age-matched peers in the general education setting.  Some of our students also receive instruction in both the self-contained and general education settings.  Lastly, some Hearst students with autism participate in full inclusion, which means they receive all of their instruction in the general education setting with support, as needed, from one of our special education instructors.

As with all CES classes in DCPS, the autism program at Hearst is has on-site service providers including an occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, school psychologist, and social worker, as well as a physical therapist available on a consulting basis. Additionally, an applied behavior analysis (ABA) coach supports our staff on a weekly basis to assist in the daily use of ABA techniques in the classroom. Daily, all teachers and paraprofessionals collect data on students’ present levels of performance on IEP (Individualized Education Plan) goals, as well as target behaviors, in order to monitor progress, make instructional decisions and differentiate instruction. Students are also able to use classroom-connected sensory rooms for sensory breaks, when needed, or for 1:1 instruction.

Our teachers employ a multimodal approach to learning, utilizing a variety of technologies to supplement instruction, including iPads, computer-based programs and SmartBoards. The students in our autism classrooms benefit from the use of research-based instructional programs such as Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment Placement Protocol (VB-MAPP), Edmark Reading Program and Visualizing and Verbalizing. Additionally, we utilize assistive technology, including PECS, Proloquo2Go and visual aids and supports.

At Hearst, we support our students in reaching their full potential and capitalize on each child’s strengths.  We also partner with students’ families to create a positive and caring learning environment at school that also connects with the home environment in order to support students across their day.

Again, please note that all students in the CES program must be assigned to classrooms via Early Stages/DCPS and cannot enroll directly in those classrooms.