The ACES SAILS program is founded on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Its goal is to deliver high quality, evidence-based educational services to adolescents and young adults with autism and related developmental disorders. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music therapy and social work services contribute to the transdisciplinary nature of the program. Each educational team is co-led by a state-certified Special Education teacher and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The program focuses on teaching skills fundamental to increasing a student’s independent functioning within society.

The general areas of concentration are:

  • Functional Academics (grouping, counting, reading, writing, estimating, measuring, combining, arranging, perceiving patterns, etc.)

  • Life Skills (showering, dressing, tooth brushing, cooking, hand washing, recreating, using a phone, scheduling, washing clothes, cleaning, etc.)

  • Executive Skills (preparing, organizing, participating, initiating, self-regulation, following directions, time management, etc.)

  • Community Skills (shopping, using public restrooms, attending public events, accessing a library, using public transportation, crossing a street, etc.)

These skills are taught in actual and contrived “naturalistic” settings (e.g., kitchen, family room, bedroom) to promote generalized and functional outcomes. The scope and sequence of instruction is highly structured, performance-based, and assessment-driven. Research based instructional technologies will be emphasized in altering maladaptive behavior by teaching effective and efficient alternative responses.

SAILS Students

SAILS students will be approximately 11 to 21 years of age although younger students may be enrolled under appropriate circumstances. The student population will not be restricted to individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum; the curriculum and instructional program will be appropriate for some children with other developmental disorders.

The school year will begin mid-August and will run 190 school days until mid-June. An 18-20 day extended school year will be offered in July. Complying with Connecticut’s guidelines for the education and treatment of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, no more than a two-week break will occur during any school vacation.

Recommendation to the SAILS program will be made on an individual basis using some or all of the following criteria:

  • Instructional needs primarily centered on the establishment of functional life skills within the home and community and/or skills prerequisite to successfully accessing high school or vocational settings

  • A learning style requiring highly-structured, individualized teaching techniques and systematic, specifically-planned generalization opportunities in both contrived and natural contexts

  • The need for individualized behavior management services directed by board certified behavior analysts to maintain general safety and/or manage recurrent behavioral issues

  • Specific interest/requests for high levels of data collection and documentation of student performance

  • Specific interest/requests by school districts and parents for the involvement of individuals holding national certification in the implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis

SAILS Program Tuition 

The philosophy and methodologies employed within the SAILS program are consistent; however, the program provides two levels of support. The difference in intensity is reflected in student/staff ratios with respect to ABA Trainers and Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and in measurement, documentation and behavior analytic services. Customization is not new to ACES. A two-tier tuition structure provides choice and enables the appropriate level of services to be positioned with ease.

SAILS Program Administration 

During the initial year of operation, SAILS will be administered by a collaboration of four of ACES instructional leaders who specialize in the areas of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Special Education.

James A. Hoko, PhD, BCBA-D  Director, ACES Behavior Services Center

Leslie Peters, MS, CC-SLP   Principal, Science-based Approaches to Independence and Life Skills (SAILS), Center for Autism Spectrum & Developmental Disorders (CASDD)

Cara Cappalli, MS, BCBA  Coordinator of Autism Programs, ACES Behavior Services and Autism Programs