The visual-language-based Monarch Model includes 7 critical elements:
The first stage of the Monarch Model includes an evaluation of the individual's ability to interpret, manage and negotiate a symbol rich world. A team of professionals including speech/language pathologists, occupational therapists and special educators provide initial and dynamic assessment of visual and spoken interferences in the communication at all levels. This includes evaluation of the most basic level of picture recognition to the more sophisticated level of understanding idioms, analogies and/or metaphors. This assessment provides the basis for entry levels of intervention with the goal of moving the student forward to more complex forms of communication.
2. Visual Supports
The Monarch Model maximizes the learning opportunity that visuals can provide by applying visual supports within a structured language system rather than using them as isolated icons. The result is a comprehensive program that acknowledges the importance of visuals in order to support expressive communication, receptive language comprehension and the organization of daily events and learning sequences.
3. The Monarch Media Center
The vast array of visuals needed to support the individual on the autism spectrum requires a consolidated "warehouse" of visual images. These visual images include line drawings, photographs and animations that are both generic and personalized. This comprehensive assortment of visual materials is housed in the Monarch Media Center, where it is organized and indexed to enable ready access for instructional usage. As a result, individual programs are created that provide a foundation for a student's level of visual understanding and language ability.
Educational software is used liberally during the school day to supplement each student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP). In the Monarch Model, technology is an integral and essential way to reinforce concepts by taking advantage of the attraction that SmartBoards, computers, laptops, iPads, iPods, and more hold for individuals on the autism spectrum.
5. Natural Language Curriculum
The Monarch Model embraces a natural language curriculum that serves as an extension and elaboration of state curricular standards. We recognize that the student's available language system, including available vocabulary and concepts, can dictate the extent to which he/she can successfully participate in learning. By maximizing access to language and providing continuous "teachable moments" in a natural environment, the potential for richer and more meaningful expression and understanding is made possible.
6. Content Area Curriculum
As a person on the autism spectrum becomes more competent in their understanding and use of language, they are better able to manage the demands of comprehensive educational curriculum. To support this, the Monarch Model identified the key language concepts in the content area curriculum and made them a critical, foundational component of instruction. As a result, math, social studies, science, language arts and reading instruction are more comprehensible and manageable and students more effectively meet their learning potential.
7. Outcomes Data
Consistent and dynamic evaluations of both intervention and individual progress through verifiable measures are core in the Monarch Model. Student and program progress are continually assessed with a unique data collection system which measures performance through parameters of independence, accuracy, participation and behaviors.
The core of the Monarch Model is in developing a language system - either spoken, visual or written - that assists a student in achieving his or her maximum potential as a learner and a member of the community. The careful, systematic and structured introduction of language concepts can be used in tandem with the most effective and widely used techniques for helping individuals on the spectrum (i.e., ABA, TEACCH, Floor Time, etc.). With conceptual language as its core, the Monarch Model provides the best opportunity for promoting and enriching the individual's increasing use of language to master skills, to communicate meaningfully in the world, to give and receive information and to form and participate in relationships that enrich and deepen living.