The BCIU’s Multiple Disabilities Support (MDS) program provides specialized educational programming for secondary-age students with multiple needs. The MDS program provides instruction in basic life skills and communication while utilizing various means of assistive technology.
Students attend class within the Governor Mifflin High School. They follow the district’s school-year calendar and participate in Extended School Year (ESY) programming during the summer. The staff may consist of one classroom teacher, one specialist, two personal care assistants, and several related-services personnel, which may include: an occupational therapist, assistive technology consultant, physical therapist, speech and language therapist, psychologist, prescriptive motor trainer, and/or an orientation and mobility specialist.
Instruction may include literacy awareness, communication, recreation and leisure, pre-vocational activities, hygiene, practical academics, current events and news, cooking, community awareness and activities, and social skills.
A student may participate in regular education elective and/or academic classes within the school setting if deemed appropriate by the student’s IEP team. The team may consist of the student, parent, teacher, local education agent, related services personnel, program administrator, and others. Students may fulfill their academic, social, behavioral, and emotional needs by participating in these opportunities with their same age peers.
Another component of the MDS program involves access to and involvement within the local community. Students may participate in community-based activities and instruction in a variety of locations in Berks County. Staff members supervise the students while the young people participate in multiple learning activities designed to support specific transition goals reflected in each student’s IEP.
Instruction may include an emphasis on money skills, socialization, communication, mobility, item identification, and generalization.
School districts must make referrals for services by submitting a Request for School-Age Programs and Services Form to the BCIU. An MDS program representative will then contact the student’s teacher, if applicable, and begin the assessment process. This assessment identifies the student’s strengths and needs and guides the team, including the local school district’s staff and administration, in determining the appropriateness of enrollment in the program. Enrollment is very flexible and typically includes part- or full-time placement.
Students ages 15-21 with significant needs and multiple disabilities are eligible for the Multiple Disabilities Support program.