The Mariposa School for Children with Autism

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
The Mariposa School for Children with Autsim
City & State:
North Carolina
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To provide intensive instruction in a supportive environment designed to improve communication skills and therefore quality of life for children with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The Mariposa School is a non-profit organization created specifically to offer children with autism and other developmental disabilities year round, one-on-one instruction using innovative teaching techniques. Based in central North Carolina, the school has attracted international attention for its progressive teaching curriculum. Families from across the region and country have relocated; so their children can attend the school – a testament to the effectiveness of its teaching methodology and commitment to helping these students succeed. The educational program is tailored to fit his or her individual needs so that the student may realize his/her maximum potential.

Because each child is unique, every student’s program is different. By working as a team, each professional augments the input and efforts of the other team members. There is no one right way to teach, and we learn more about each student every day. Therefore, we reassess each student’s skills on a daily basis to monitor progress and modify teaching strategies as needed. When problems occur, we do not merely identify them, we look for ways to solve them. We base our teaching techniques on what research studies have shown to be most effective. Progress is tracked and measurable. As a result of the one-on-one ratio of staff to student, students receive a high level of reinforcement for their efforts, and changes may be made to the teaching approach based on the way the student responds which ultimately lead to student progress.

Mariposa uses a teaching method based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This method teaches the students how to use social, motor, verbal, reasoning and other skills. Many children with autism have trouble with these behaviors on their own and have to be taught how to use them. ABA uses positive reinforcement as well as prompting to attempt to elicit a certain response. These positive and negative behaviors are carefully monitored in order to better teach each student. When a student does something that is seen as good, he or she is rewarded to try and promote these behaviors every time. When a student acts in a way that is undesirable, he or she is observed and data is collected. Teachers look for what may trigger those unwanted behaviors, to help avoid those triggers and create new reinforcers in their place ultimately doing away with the negative behavior in the future.

In the summer of 2008, Mariposa began using Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition as well as updating a handful of its laptop computers to include Office 2003 Professional. These updates resulted in a far fewer headaches related to an overloaded server going down and allowed teachers and program coordinators to begin to share information more readily. These improvements have made it possible for a great deal more research and growth to take place throughout the school. For a school that is based primarily on new research and on individual’s daily growth, an updated system was key. Now Mariposa is able to better serve its students and make way for an even brighter future. With this donation, Mariposa would be able to house a database capable of having multiple people access it at the same time. This is vital in helping the students of Mariposa grow and learn each day.

Due to its constant monitoring, regular reassessment, ABA methodology, and team-based approach it is imperative that Mariposa possess the technology necessary to be accessed by all involved and is capable of handling the vast amounts of information collected from each student. With sufficient technology, teachers will be able to better monitor the behavior of each student and record it for the program coordinators to then use to better understand what is needed to promote the student’s growth and learning. Mariposa could greatly improve the effectiveness of its educational outreach with an additional $5,000 cash donation plus $25,000 worth of donated software.

Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly. In the development of the school, the name Mariposa was selected to represent the school as a place of hope and transformation. Children with autism are often described as “trapped” in their own world regarding the lack of appropriate social and functional communication skills. Similar to the life of a butterfly, the cocoon resembles the “trapped world.” As a beautiful butterfly emerges from the cocoon, the children at Mariposa will also experience a similar transformation revealing more of their innate beauty and developing their maximum potential. With access to updated technology program coordinators and instructors can create more specialized programs for each student, Mariposa’s students will benefit greatly and be able to grow more than ever thought possible.

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