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Erie 1 BOCES Special Education provides programs which are designed for students with disabilities whose instructional needs cannot be appropriately served by their local school district.  Special education classes, for students ages 5-21, are hosted within our component school districts. 

 A team effort by related services itinerant professionals supports the classroom teacher in meeting the demands of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.  The following itinerant services are provided, based on the student’s IEP:  speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, itinerant hearing services, itinerant vision services and social work counseling.

Special programs exist to specifically meet the needs of students with autism, behavior disorders and students who have previously not been successful in a traditional public school setting.  Transition services are an important part of the curriculum for all Special Education students.  Students have an opportunity to participate in a simulated workshop and in community internships.

For all students, learning is based on the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.

Special Education
A New Home at West Elementary West Seneca
West Elementary School is the new home to seven Erie 1 BOCES Special Education classes, many of which are focused on serving students with autism.

“Our goal is to expand autism program offerings to service the increasing needs from our districts,” noted Justin DeMartin, Erie 1 BOCES Director of Exceptional Education Programs and Services.

One such class, comprised of six students ranging in age from 7 to 10, were previously together at Maryvale. This year, they’re settling into West Elementary with teacher Caitlin Palmer. While the surroundings may be unfamiliar, teacher and students got a head start on getting to know each other during a six-week summer program.

“That was a nice introduction for them and it wasn’t completely brand new,” Palmer said. “Some of the aides are the same…so they have some familiar faces. It’s nice to have more BOCES staff on site.”

Supervisor John Pope provides that BOCES presence at West Elementary. He said there’s a good working relationship. “What we’ve put together here is a collaborative effort for kids with unique and special needs. We’re really working for the growth and opportunities for all students in the building.”

Instructional Resource Teacher Melissa Metz said the Erie 1 BOCES team is making the most of the many resources available to them, including programs such as Symbol Stix and Unique. She said those programs help students with autism gain independence, increase communication, and benefits social interaction with peers and adults.

That social interaction is a definite priority, according to Special Education Teacher Samantha Wurstner.

“It’s emphasized a lot in the classroom,” she said of her young class. “We’re working a lot with the different social skills – waiting, taking turns, raising your hand before you speak, and basic goals and routines. We’re just trying to get them to be able to function as a student. They have to learn to be a student before they can actually learn. That’s my motto.”

DeMartin said the program is off to a good start at West Elementary, and will only get better. “We are sending teachers and administrators to receive further training in this area to ensure we remain the foremost provider for our community.”
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