The purpose of my Case Study was to take a closer look at three students in the middle level at Aspen Creek K-8 in Boulder Valley School District.
These students have each been identified as falling under the Autism Spectrum, a.k.a. diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
I wanted to investigate their experiences of what it is like to have Autism in Aspen Creek.
  • What are the students perspectives socially?
  • Academically?
  • Are they appropriately supported at this school?
These are the questions I chose to focus on through my investigation of these three students (Student 1 = S1, Student 2 = S2, Student 3 = S3).

Here is what I found:
Students
Thinking Data
Work
Samples
In-the-class
Benchmarks
Norm-Referenced -
State-Level Data
Student
Interviews
Teacher
Interviews
Observations
Student Socio-Cultural Considerations
Student1 LA
Link to S1 TD
Link to S1 WS
S1 BM
For school, not individual students:
Link to State Level Data
9/29/11
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Principal 9/14/11
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Resources principal
provided to better
understand school policies:
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Link to RC Article

Teacher 9/30/11
Teacher interview S1.docx
9/22/11
9/29/11

Schoolwide socio-cultural considerations:
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Article about RC

Considerations for S1:
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Student2 Reading
Link to S2 TD
Link to S2 WS
S2 BM

9/28/11
Interest Inventory - S2.doc
Teacher 9/29/11
Guiding Questions for Teachers.docx
9/22/11


Student3 Reading
Link to S3 TD
Link to S3 WS
S3 BM

9/29/11
Interest Inventory - S3.doc
see inter view for S2
9/22/11

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Partner- School Data
National Level Data
School Demographics
School Performance on CGM
School Website
Equity in BVSD
District Special Education Services

National Autism Statistics
Mariposa School
National Database for Autism Research
Autism in Low-Income Communities

Guiding Questions for Data Update #1 (Due 3rd class session):

1) Explain your initial thoughts about the children based on the quantitative and qualitative data you gathered for this submission (include PDFs/photos of student work)

Based on my initial observations of these students, my first impressions varied from one student to the next. S1 had not turned in any homework that the teacher could recall. The only work samples I was able to gather of hers was this poem and this incomplete, in class worksheet. My initial observation of this student left me thinking that she tries to overcompensate for her insecurities in her crude, bombastic, and defensive interactions with people. I was left wondering if these behaviors were a result of her experience as a student identified on the Autism Spectrum in schools. She insists she's "not even Autistic... Aspergers, maybe."

After observing S2, i was left with almost the same impression - that his behaviors were a manifestation of wanting to be noticed and fit in. However, S2 wasn't so much trying to fit in with his general ed. peers as he was with his students with Autism peers. He repeatedly asked questions about a fellow student in his reading class who has severe symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). S2 then began to imitate him by "inadvertently" shouting out, as the other student with ASD does. This imitation did not seem to mock his peer, but rather was an attempt to be like him. Also, S2 did not like being pulled out of class to work on work that was differentiated for him. He wanted to do what his peers were doing. I wondered how his experience as a student with ASD has influenced his current behaviors and educational performance. These work samples I was able to get from S2 made me think that he was far more capable than he let on.


Finally, I observed S3 . S3 seemed more content in her own skin than the other two students. She was very confident and quietly and attentively listened to the teacher most of the time. Although she was quiet when the teacher was talking, if I tried to start a conversation with her, she would enthusiastically respond about whatever it is we were talking about. She seemed to have a healthy vigor and enjoyment for many things, academic and non. She focused on her work during work time and gracefully took feedback from her teacher about the poem she was writing. These work samples made me believe that S3 put effort into her work. I know that she is not functioning at a very high grade level, but her teacher has differentiated enough for her that she is able to complete similar work as her peers, and she does so to the best of her ability.



2) Describe what you are learning about the socio-cultural context of the children and school
So far, I have learned that there is very little diversity at my partner-school. It is nestled in an upper-middle class neighborhood and the demographics reflect that fact. However, since Aspen Creek has a specialized program for Autistic students, in particular, those students may range a little more in socioeconomic status, since they are bused to Aspen Creek from out of district, as well as within district locations. Before school on Wednesdays, the school offers activities such as Spanish class, Karate class, cooking class, etc. That can each cost up to $200 to enroll in. Although this school may not be very diverse in socioeconomic or racial aspects, it has a larger than usual population of students with Autism, due to it's specialized services for those students. Because of this, students at Aspen Creek are made aware of ASD and have experiences interacting with students with ASD in their general ed. classes. This school is trying to implement inclusion practices with it's students with ASD into the general ed. classrooms. However, how much that practice is more than just putting a warm body in the room remains to be questionable in some classrooms.

3) Detail specific things you are going to look for in the coming weeks to focus your observations and interviews based on what you have learned so far – for example, based on your data so far you may more closely observe student-to-student interactions and ask specific student interview questions related to bullying or peer groups

Based on the data I have collected so far, I would like to learn more about the students' interests and see if they are involved in any activities in school. Do they have peer groups in school? Do they like school? What are their overall attitudes about their experiences in school? This interest is more geared towards S1 and S2. My questions for S3 may be more focused on whether or not she is taking advantage of all of her interests. Is she in any clubs? After school activities? She already seems very positive about so many things, I want to investigate as to how much she is able to explore those interests.





Guiding Questions for Data Update #2 (Due 5th class session):

1) Describe your thoughts about your students based on your analysis of the data

After my final Interviews (SCAN0022.1.JPG, SCAN0022.2.JPG, SCAN0022.3.JPG, , ) I was left feeling like my initial perceptions about the students may have been close to accurate. However, I am still left wanting to know more about S2, since he was more interested to returning to class than thoughtfully answering my questions. I felt like I didn't get to know his as well as I had wished. Nevertheless, my interviews were revealing in that they showed me how much S2 and S3 were really interested in school. They had high interest in most subjects at school and both participated in out of school activities. S3 seemed much more pessimistic about school and acted as if it was just a system she was trying to manipulate and take advantage. She said she likes being identified because it gives her special treatment. Also, after one of the many times I saw her get away with not following repeated directions, when I asked her why she didn't have to follow them, she said, "'Cause I'm the boss." And to tell you the truth, it was hard to argue with that perception. She was allowed to not follow directions, not go to class, spend most of the time in power struggles with teachers, and miss out on the after school activity she was being "forced" to attend. I felt like S1's interest in school may be stronger if her education was more tailored to her interest - this does not mean catering to her interest of not attending class. I mean her interests in art and technology. I feel like S1's motivation to get her work done would be much higher if they were presented in powerpoint, video, or computer game. I would eeven challenge her to make a game or artistic representation of the content she should be learning in class. With her, I am weary of tailoring work for her because she might interpret it as her having control over the system. There must be a better and more consistent protocol of consequences for her when she refuses to participate in school. Right now, I'm not sure the program at Aspen Creek is the best fit for her.


2) Describe resources and supports at the school, community, and/or national level available to your students and their families
At the school, students have access to the plethora of resource teachers, two Speech and Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, Motor Skills Teachers, RTI Specialists, Counselors, Vice Principals, the Principal himself, the two Intensive Learning Center teachers. Each of these faculty members collaborate to support the needs of students with disabilities, as well as the grade-level faculty teams, who collaborate on how to include those students to receive a free and appropriate education in their classrooms. In the community, students have access to The Autism Society of Boulder County, Imagine!, FRIENDS of Broomfield, Creative Perspectives, and many more organizations that provide education, after school activities, and intensive needs support.



Final Analysis