Support Those on the Spectrum

Nova Southeastern University’s Autism Institute is a pivotal part of the community as a resource for individuals with autism and their families. Services include early intervention programs for children with autism, assistance with school placement, support for families, as well as assistance for NSU college students who are on the spectrum. 

As a part of NSU's Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice, the Autism Institute also offers graduate students the opportunity to assist with program classes as part of the field work requirement.

Baudhuin Preschool

For children 3–5 years old.

NSU's Baudhuin Preschool, located in the Jim & Jan Moran Family Center Village (adjacent to our Davie/Fort Lauderdale campus), is an internationally recognized, two-year model program for children with autism spectrum disorder. Designed for children three years of age through prekindergarten, this therapeutic program focuses on cognitive, social-emotional, adaptive, behavioral, motor, and communication skill development within a relationship-based environment.

The program is offered in partnership with the School Board of Broward County and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Collaborative opportunities with other NSU departments in academics, research, and clinical work enrich the educational experience.

The Baudhuin Preschool utilizes a rich variety of activities and experiences, within a language-based environment, to encourage children to become competent in all areas of development. An individual education plan (IEP) is carefully framed for each child after evaluating each individual’s strengths and challenges.
Our relationship-based program utilizes the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). We employ and teach various communication methods, including Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), visual cuing strategies, and augmentative communication modalities. Classrooms incorporate social skills training, and TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autism and Related Communication Handicapped Children) methodologies (i.e., independent work systems).
Speech/language, behavioral, and occupational services are integrated into each child’s classroom experience.
Our classroom teachers have met Florida teacher certification in preschool/primary education and are assisted in the classroom by at least two paraprofessionals. Professional development and ongoing training ensure best practices and provide staff with current methodologies.
Onsite School Nurse—A licensed nurse manages the school’s clinic, providing first aid to students and dispensing physician-prescribed medications. The nurse provides health-related information and training to both parents and school staff members.
We recognize parents as our most valuable resource in the early education of children. Parental input, involvement, and participation in our program are welcomed and encouraged. Educational programs are offered on a variety of topics by both Mailman Segal Center faculty and staff members and outside experts.
The Baudhuin PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) is a strong parent-organized and parent-led group. The PTO works closely with our staff to plan Baudhuin-related special events.

Baudhuin Preschool Therapeutic and Support Services

In addition to the educational programming offered at the Baudhuin Preschool, many therapeutic and support services are offered to children and families.

The Behavioral Therapy Department addresses problem behaviors in the classroom and trains staff in applied behavior analysis. Behavior Analysts conduct functional assessments, write individual behavior plans for students, and monitor the staff’s implementation of the plan and the student’s progress. Behavior Analysts train staff in plan implementation and behavioral strategies for the classroom with the goals of increasing desired skills and decreasing inappropriate behaviors. Our Board Certified Associate Behavior Analysts (BCABA) are certified at the national level.
Baudhuin Preschool speech-language pathologists address challenges with language, pragmatics, feeding, oral-motor skills, articulation, and social skill development. Facilitation of language development is achieved through various modes of communication, including verbalization, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Picture Communication Systems (PCS), sign language, and augmentative communication.
Our speech-language therapists address communication disorders by providing services through a variety of delivery models, including language facilitation in the classroom; co-treatment with teachers and support staff; and individual and group sessions. Our speech-language therapists are Florida licensed and certified by the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA).
Baudhuin Preschool occupational therapists utilize the Model of Occupational Adaptation as a theoretical guide for intervention. Therapists focus on the child’s performance within their educational environment, utilizing techniques of sensory integration and neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) to support the attainment of IEP goals. Master’s-level occupational therapy students from Nova Southeastern University provide supervised occupational therapy services. Our occupational therapists are Florida licensed and certified by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Support is critically important to families of special needs children. The family support program provides guidance, education, and support services to families of children enrolled in the preschool as well as families within the community. Our family counselors coordinate and provide services including:

  • Parent, sibling, and grandparent support groups
  • Support groups for Spanish-speaking families
  • Individual and family consultations
  • Educational workshops
  • Transition program planning
  • Resource and referral services
  • Parent coaching and advocacy
Dad with child doing activity together during Starting Right class

Kapila Family Foundation Starting Right Program

For children 18–36 months old.

Starting Right is an early intervention, parent-child class available to children 18–36 months of age who exhibit delays in language and social skills. The program is designed to increase communication, social, and school readiness skills. It also provides caregivers with techniques and strategies to use in the classroom and at home. Intervention support is delivered by clinical psychologists and behavioral specialists.

Classes meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. two days a week (either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday). Intensive hour-long one-to-one sessions are also provided bimonthly on Friday mornings. During their time in the classroom, children and parents participate in a variety of activities: with the total class, in small groups, and in one-to-one ratios. The classroom provides a highly structured environment that allows the children to engage in diverse learning opportunities. Individual visual schedules are used to enable children to navigate the classroom and provide a guide for what is going to happen throughout the day.
$10,429 —Tuition may be prorated based on the date of entry. Tuition covers 12 months.
Morning circle, story, and music time provide children with a chance to interact with peers and teachers in a group setting. Children are able to choose and request songs and stories using visual supports. These activities also teach children how to recognize their names, follow directions, share with peers, wait for a turn, and participate in a group setting. During teacher time, children work one-to-one with a teacher on specific skills using discrete trial teaching. Play provides children with an opportunity to explore toys and develop skills necessary for social interaction. Art and sensory experiences allow children to investigate different textures and experiment with crayons, glue, and paint. Snacks and lunches are used to teach children to request preferred food items and to feed themselves. Children also enjoy the playground or interactive fountain during the school day.
Several different specialized teaching strategies are used in the classroom. During teacher time, discrete trial training is used to develop specific skills in the areas of receptive language and pre-academic skills. Pivotal Response Training is used throughout the classroom to encourage and reinforce babbling, sound and word imitation, spontaneous requests, and comments, as well as play skills. The Picture Exchange Communication System provides children with a way to communicate while verbal language is still developing.
Parents or other caregivers are involved throughout the entire day. They are responsible for transitioning their children among the different areas of the classroom and working with them in each area. Classroom teachers help parents to provide strategies to use while working with their children. Once a week, parents leave the classroom for a parent group. The group is designed to be both supportive and educational in nature. Specific topics are addressed, including transition to preschool, toilet training, generalizing classroom strategies to home and community environments, and behavior management techniques. During Friday’s individual intervention time, parents are able to meet individually with a parent coach.
Starting Right is a part of NSU’s Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice. University students are an integral part of the Starting Right program. Graduate students in psychology, mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and applied behavior analysis are integrated into the Starting Right classroom. NSU's students are responsible for leading the parent group and Friday support sessions.

Access Plus

This program provides services to academically capable students to support academic achievement, independent living skills, and campus life engagement opportunities. Access Plus services are available to students who have been accepted into NSU's undergraduate programs and meet academic program eligibility requirements.

Learn More About Access Plus Services

Contact Information

Carmen Session, Ed.D. Associate Dean, Department of Human Services 954-262-8429
Alex Lopes, Ed.D. Director, Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy 954-262-6928
Tammy Gipps, M.S., LMHC Family Counselor, Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy 954-262-7149