Atlantic Academy is a special purpose private school (SPPS), approved by the state of Maine Department of Education, that specializes in providing education to students with emotional/behavioral disorders, as well as students with autism and related disabilities.
Atlantic Academy strives to provide effective treatment and education to at-risk students, which will have positive, collateral effects for the future development of both the individual and community at large.
We believe that healthy, thriving students make for strong, successful communities.
Our approach to helping students become successful, contributing members of their home-communities and school districts is rooted in applied behavior analysis, Acceptance and Commitment Training, behavioral medicine, and individually-tailored academic programming. Our approach to occasioning and maintaining staff excellence, of which successful student outcomes depends on, is guided by the principles of ProSocial and organizational behavior management.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
ABA, as it is sometimes referred to, is the “process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior” (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968). The premise underlying this approach is that we use thoughtful, individualized, function-based interventions to teach behaviors and skills that are valued by the community, and important for, and to, the student. Our ABA approach is directed by Board Certified Behavior Analysts with extensive experience delivering services to children with special needs, mental health difficulties, and within school settings.
Acceptance and Commitment Training
Acceptance and Commitment Training, or “ACT,” is a teaching and training model that underlies the socio-emotional work we do with our students, as well as how we support each other as a group of professionals. ACT is a model of understanding complex behaviors that is embedded within the behavioral and cognitive behavioral traditions, with the overall aim to increase psychological flexibility, while helping others live a life aligned with their reinforcers and values.
When appropriate, we utilize a collection of methods that target the reduction of physiological arousal that can often be associated with problem behaviors and challenges. We do this through specific breathing practices and biofeedback approaches.
We use provide programming that is high individualized and derives from direct instruction methods to teach both academic and life skills (e.g., functional, behavioral, emotional) to students at Atlantic Academy. This means that we set students up for success in acquiring needed skills by carefully designed lesson plans that reflect current deficits, train staff on how to follow such lesson plans, explicitly teach such skills based-off the lesson plan, and closely monitor progress or lack thereof.
Initial Assessment Period
Upon admission to Atlantic Academy, students go through an initial 3-4-week assessment period where their strengths and deficit areas are identified, and interventions are probed to determine least-restrictive, most effective fit for the student. After this assessment period, a team meeting is held to review the student's needs, identify goals and program-exit criteria, and present recommendations that aim to achieve the student’s goals.
A Self-correcting Approach
At Atlantic Academy, we closely monitor all interventions to ensure progress. If progress is not being made in a timely fashion, we adjust our programming as needed. Such progress monitoring can be shared with team members as requested.
Students with emotional and behavioral challenges
Many of our students with intensive behavioral challenges have a combination of neurobiological and environmental risk factors that greatly impact their daily functioning. The groundwork for success depends on the initial establishment of a positive relationship, consistent expectations, boundaries, and feedback. When this is in place, our students are much more likely to learn critical skills for their success. A central component to our program is to teach students how to bring themselves into a more relaxed and calm state, so that they are better equipped to cope with chronic and acute stressors. At the same time, our programming focuses on actively teaching other affect regulation and executive functioning skills throughout the day, where students and staff have multiple teaching interactions and opportunities to practice skills, and receive feedback.
Students with autism & related disabilities
Student entering our program either have severe and dangerous problem behaviors, or profound deficits that make it difficult to navigate successfully in mainstream settings. Again, we see challenging behaviors or barriers to learning as areas that reflect skill-deficits. We use some of the most current, gold-standard assessment tools to help identify nuanced skill-deficits that are likely responsible for ongoing student difficulties. Once skill-deficits are identified, we work with teams to ensure that working on such skills is valued and supported among stakeholders.