Top of Page
Skip main navigation

Welcome to the Autism Institute

The Autism Institute serves families impacted by autism over the life span, including early intervention programs, public and private school options, college support, and support for families. 

For children 18 months - 3 years old

Early intervention, caregiver/child program for children diagnosed with, or at risk-for, autism.

Starting Right is an early intervention, parent-child class designed to serve children 18-36 months of age exhibiting 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 provided by clinical psychologists and behavioral specialists.

Class Schedule

Classes meet from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm two days a week (either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday). Intensive hour-long 1:1 sessions are also provided bi-monthly 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 1:1 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.

Tuition Information

2021-2022: $9,830*

*Tuition may be pro-rated based on the date of entry. Tuition covers 12 months.

Curriculum

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 1:1 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. Snack and lunch 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.

Parental Involvement

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.

Support Services

Starting Right is a part of Nova Southeastern University's Abraham 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.

Contact 

Alex Lopes, Ed.D.

Director - Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-6928

alopes12@nova.edu

 

Tammy Gipps, M.S., LMHC

Family Counselor

Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy- Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-7149

wardgipp@nova.edu 

For children 3 - 5 years old

In collaboration with the School Board of Broward County, children with an educational eligibility of autism receive a preschool program.

The Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice's Baudhuin Preschool, located on the main campus of Nova Southeastern University, is an internationally recognized, model program for children with autism spectrum disorder. The program is offered in partnership with the School Board of Broward County. Collaborative opportunities with other NSU departments in academics, research, and clinical work enrich the educational experience.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited Baudhuin Preschool program is built on the belief that each child is unique in ability, talent and learning style. 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. We provide each child with choices, challenges, and opportunities that nurture feelings of competence, promote intellectual growth, and enable each child to achieve his or her potential.

Curriculum

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 cueing 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.

Faculty & Staff

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 on-going 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.

Family Involvement

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.

Contact 

Alex Lopes, Ed.D.

Director - Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-6928

alopes12@nova.edu

 

Tammy Gipps, M.S., LMHC

Family Counselor

Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy- Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-7149

wardgipp@nova.edu 

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

Behavioral Therapy

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.

Speech/Language Therapy

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).

Occupational Therapy

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 neuro-developmental 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 Services

Support is critically important to families of special needs children. The family support program provides guidance, educational, 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 and
  • Parent coaching and advocacy.

Contact 

Alex Lopes, Ed.D.

Director - Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-6928

alopes12@nova.edu

 

Tammy Gipps, M.S., LMHC

Family Counselor

Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy- Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-7149

wardgipp@nova.edu 

For children 3 - 5 years old

Private prekindergarten educational program for children with autism.

The Academy is designed to provide a private preschool option for students who require an individualized education program focusing on social-communication, behavioral self-regulation, and independent functioning.

The educational philosophy of the Academy is based on the recognition that each student is unique in ability, talent, and learning style. The program supports the qualities and capabilities of each child. Designed for children three to five years of age, a high-quality, instructional program is offered within a relationship-based environment. Each child is provided with choices, challenges, and opportunities that nurture feelings of competence, promote cognitive growth, and enable each child to achieve his or her potential.

Teaching staff will use the STAR curriculum with students, which provides the scope and sequence of skills that young children targeted for this program need to develop. Skills in the areas of receptive and expressive language concepts and pre-academic concepts are taught using discrete trial teaching, while spontaneous language concepts and play and social interaction are taught using Pivotal Response Training. Functional routines are taught using step-by-step instruction until the total routine is performed independently. 

Faculty & Staff

All Academy students are taught by professionals who are Florida-certified special educators or National Board Certified Behavior Analysts. These educators are supported by autism specialists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and behavior analysts, who are licensed and/or certified in their respective disciplines. All staff abide by the Standards of Ethical Conduct as set forth by the State of Florida.

Family Involvement

Recognizing that families are a critical component of children's educational programming, a range of family education and support programs are offered. Specialized groups for parents of newly diagnosed children, fathers, mothers, grandparents, and siblings are offered. Groups are also offered for Spanish-speaking grandparents and parents for those who are more fluent in that language. When requested by a family member or deemed necessary by school staff, home visits will be made to further support the student and family.

The Academy provides regular communication between home and school so that family members and school staff are aware of the progress and concerns regarding every student.

Tuition Information

2021-2022: $41,780*

*Tuition may be pro-rated based on the date of entry. Tuition covers 10 months.

Contact 

Alex Lopes, Ed.D.

Director - Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-6928

alopes12@nova.edu

 

Tammy Gipps, M.S., LMHC

Family Counselor

Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy- Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-7149

wardgipp@nova.edu 

College support program

NSU's supported college program for undergraduate students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This program provides services to academically capable students to support academic achievement, independent living skills, and campus life engagement opportunities. Students in this program must meet the NSU's admission requirements as determined by the program of application.

Access Plus Services

  • A 2-hour, daily study hall, staffed by peer mentors under the supervision of the program administrator that meets Monday through Friday
  • Assistance in supporting and maintaining appropriate structure to the student's day and the supervision of assignments through completion
  • Residential supports through the training of Residential Advisors assigned to the on campus living spaces of Access Plus students
  • Support to participate in and enjoy extracurricular activities thereby being involved in the overall college experience including campus clubs, organizations and social events.
  • Assistance in planning weekend activities on campus and in the community to ensure that these students have as typical a college experience as possible.
  • Weekly psycho-educational groups will be offered to students to focus on information exchange, skill building, and reflection and discussion regarding individual progress.

Cost

The fee for Access Plus is $9,090 per semester. This is in addition to Nova Southeastern University's tuition schedule for undergraduate programs.

Application Process and Requirements

Criteria for Acceptance to Access Plus

Applicants must meet NSU’s admission requirements as determined by the program of application.

An admissions team for the Access Plus program will review each student application to make decisions about which students will have a high likelihood of being successful at NSU through the Access Plus program.

How to Apply

  1. Fill out the Access Plus Application Packet.
  2. Submit the following with your application:
    • Current (within the past 12 months) evaluations in the areas of cognition including intelligence (ex.Wechsler Scales of Intelligence (WISC or WAIS), Stanford Binet etc.);
    • Evidence of academic achievement in the form of grades and standardized achievement tests; (ex. Woodcock-Johnson Achievement);
    • Adaptive behavior measures completed by school personnel and family members (ex. Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, Vineland etc.);
    • Phone interviews with high school or college personnel; and
    • School behavior intervention plans letters of support from current teachers
    • Letters of support from current teachers
  3. Complete an in-person, on-campus interview. To schedule an interview, please contact Maribel Del Rio-Roberts at (954) 262-8529.

Contact 

Maribel Del Río-Roberts, Psy.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Human Services

(954) 262-8529

mdelrio@nova.edu

LEARN MORE

Carmen Session, Ed.D.

Associate Dean/Assistant Professor (Administration)

Department of Human Services

Office (954) 262-8429

carmsand@nova.edu

 

Alex Lopes, Ed.D.

Director - Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-6928

alopes12@nova.edu

 

Tammy Gipps, M.S., LMHC

Family Counselor

Baudhuin Preschool, Starting Right, & The Academy- Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice

Office (954) 262-7149

wardgipp@nova.edu 

Return to top of page