Wilson works one-on-one with teacher Rachel Lewis at the Faison School for Autism. Jay Paul photo
Besides its teaching mission, the Faison School for Autism also serves as a center of research, conducted by doctors at Johns Hopkins and Virginia Commonwealth universities who visit and stay in close contact with administrators at Faison. Their work includes teacher training and social skills.
Struggle for Stability
Faison's approach is known as CABAS, or the Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling, a method developed by Douglas Greer, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University in New York City. He works closely with Faison's administrators.
"Part of the instruction involves knowing which procedures work with which children," Greer says, meaning there is a lot of trial and error. He considers language development to be key to the child's education, adding that behavioral problems often result when a child is frustrated that he can't say what he wants or needs.
In another instance of outreach, Faison is raising funds now to build rental housing for developmentally disabled adults who are independent but need some assistance. The Faison Compassionate Community, which will be on West Broad Street across from the school, also will house non-disabled people with backgrounds in health care or special education.