Independence by Design

The Science-based Approaches to Independence and Life Skills (SAILS) program is based in the science of applied behavior analysis. Staff facilitate student independence through evidence-based instruction of academic, community, executive, social, communication, and life skills.

The goal of the SAILS program is to deliver high quality educational services to adolescents and young adults with autism and related developmental disorders. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social work services contribute to the transdisciplinary nature of the program. Instructional needs primarily center on the establishment of functional life skills within the home and community and/or skills prerequisite to successfully accessing high school or vocational settings.

Skills are taught in the community and contrived “naturalistic” settings (e.g., kitchen, family room, bedroom) to promote generalized and functional outcomes. The scope and sequence of instruction is highly structured, performance-based, and assessment-driven. Evidence-based practices are promoted in altering maladaptive behavior and teaching effective and efficient alternative responses.

Who We Serve

ACES SAILS services students aged 11 – 21 presenting with autism or other developmental disorders that require intensive academic, behavioral, and life skills instruction

What Makes Us Unique?

ACES SAILS offers a 190-day school year and a summer session in July. The program features small classes (maximum of 10 students per class) that are co-lead by a state-certified special education teacher and a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) with support from professionals in related services, including speech and occupational therapies. Within SAILS, individualized instruction is provided on a one-to-one basis to facilitate skill acquisition and generalization to home and community settings.

Philosophy and Rationale

The SAILS program was created to address a number of concerns including

  • an identified scarcity of services for adolescents and young adults with autism and related disorders accessible to school districts
  • family concerns for the continuation of ABA based instruction and treatment for older students
  • legislative actions in Connecticut addressing autism services
  • and ACES Mission and Beliefs that advance innovative leadership at the highest level within the field of education.

Operation of the program is based in the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with program implementation provided by transdisciplinary teams using evidence-based practices and making data-based decisions.

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