History of The Vista School
A group of highly committed parents and professionals, seeking to create an alternative educational and therapeutic program in Central Pennsylvania, established The Vista School® to prepare children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to function in the community with increasing independence. The Vista School® opened its doors to 4 children on February 4, 2002, and since that day has been committed to preparing its students for meaningful involvement in public school programs, community activities, or eventual productive work. Vista currently serves 80 children with ASD ranging in age from pre-kindergarten to secondary school age from Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York Counties. Vista serves children who are functioning on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum. These children often display severe delays in communication skills, engage in higher rates of problematic or challenging behaviors, require assistance for activities of daily living, have little or limited ability to appropriately occupy their leisure time, and need one-on-one instruction for learning new skills.
In 2002, The Vista School® formed a unique partnership with a local behavioral health provider in a demonstration project to join educational and therapeutic aspects of the treatments that are primarily used for the remediation of ASD. Our partnership allowed therapeutic personnel to serve in behavioral health supervised classrooms and home components of The Vista School’s® program and for those personnel to receive high-quality training from the professional staff of The Vista School® and, periodically, from the school’s Ph.D.-level consultants. Additionally, professional behavioral health supervisors collaborated with the school’s educational staff to develop behavior treatment plans consistent with each child’s Individualized Education Plan.
With these practices in place, families were assured that their child’s therapist received high-quality training and guidance while working in the school and would bring that training into the family’s home. The “home component” of Vista’s program is designed to enable a child to transfer skills gained in the classroom to the home and to provide parents with needed training and support. The Vista Foundation further improved this model by obtaining a Mental Health Partial Hospitalization certificate from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to operate its Educationally-Integrated Behavioral Support (EIBS) Program. This enabled The Vista Foundation to assume the behavioral health responsibilities and adopt a new service description that significantly improved its ability to recruit and retain high-quality staff and foster a greater sense of teamwork.