December 10, 2022

The Autism Program FAQs

 

 


Who founded The Autism Program and when?

The Hartford Autism Regional Program (HARP) was founded in 2005 by a handful of professionals for a group of students whose home school districts were not meeting their needs.

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What is HARP's mission?

The mission of the Hartford Autism Regional Program (HARP) is to teach our students to “learn how to learn” by providing focused and individualized instruction. We utilize reinforcement-based strategies to increase our students' motivation for learning while fostering positive self-awareness. Our students become as independent as possible by developing the skills needed to contribute in a meaningful way in their home and community.

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Why should I choose HARP?

HARP’s highly qualified special education staff provide a specialized, structured educational program designed to teach independence and life skills. It is part of the public school system and thus free to attend. Our goal is to teach our students foundational skills and offer individualized instruction so we can support and foster their independence in all environments.

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What are the strengths of HARP? What makes the program unique?

HARP’s diverse and credentialed staff provides individualized attention as a result of its 1:1 staff to student ratio. It is the only specialized Autism education program in the surrounding public school systems. Our outside of the box approach to teaching and learning enables us to help our students reach a level of independence that makes the most sense for each of them. We offer unique benefits that a mainstream public school is unable to provide: our individualization, our small class sizes, and our high level of support--all leading to meaningful progress within our students.

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How long to students spend at HARP?

HARP is not necessarily a permanent placement for students. Students with IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) are eligible to stay in special education services until they are 21 or 22 years old. Students are welcome to stay in HARP until they age out of the education system, but many transition out of HARP to other programs.

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How do students transition out of HARP?

HARP works to build a student’s independence so they can potentially move back to a less structured setting. Some students transition back to a traditional school setting and others transition to other programs, like the Regional Resource Center based out of Hartford High School (a program similar to HARP, but that involves more independence). When a student is around 14 or 15 years old, HARP starts filling out the portion of the IEP called the transition plan to prepare early-on for the transition out of high school, and from that point, the plan is continually updated on an annual basis.

For students aging out of our program, we work with adult service agencies and community-based agencies that provide services and funding for adults with developmental disabilities. That transition plan starts early and takes added emphasis once a student turns 18.

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Can students earn a diploma through HARP?

Students may receive high school credit through their classes at HARP, and can work towards earning the same diploma they would receive from their sending district’s special education program. Other students may graduate from HARP with a certificate of completion.

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How do students get to and from HARP?

Transportation is provided by the sending school district, but there is no obligation to use this transportation.

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What is the referral process?

A student’s official referral to HARP comes from the sending school district. Once the referral has been made from the school district, the referral packet is reviewed and HARP’s director, Brittney Holmes, conducts an on-site observation of the student in their current placement. The family and prospective student are then invited for a tour of the facilities, before determining if the student is a fit for the program. The referral process typically takes no more than a month.

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Is there any relationship maintained with the student's sending school?

HARP never cuts ties with the student’s sending school. The student is technically still enrolled in their home district, so that district needs to know what is going on with their student. Progress update meetings are held with representatives from both schools about every month, and the HARP team meets at least bi-monthly in addition.

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Can students who are not enrolled in the Hartford school district attend HARP?

Yes, students from surrounding districts are welcome to attend as long as they are referred by their home district.

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