IDEA LEARNING SYSTEMOur program uses the Integrated Developmental Educational Approach to Learning™ (IDEAL™) model to design and implement effective intervention programs that address the needs of the child at every level of development to produce significant and lasting social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes. Our program combines multiple therapeutic approaches, functional life skills, and traditional educational areas in an individualized treatment program that is customized for each of our students. 

This approach is unique to The Next Step Academy and the benefits can be observed in the progress that is made by each of our students. Focusing on the development of the individual as a whole, and addressing the needs of the mind, body and spirit, children with Autism are able to learn and grow in ways that were once thought impossible. The Next Step Academy is committed to providing a diverse and challenging learning environment that assists our students in achieving their greatest potential.

The Integrated Developmental Educational Approach to Learning consists of 3 main areas of instruction:

Core Foundation Abilities

Learning Readiness Abilities

Cognitive Abilities


About the IDEAL Model™

Core Foundational Skills for Learning

1. Neurodevelopment (ND) is the process of connecting the brain and body systems, so neural connections between the brain and the body are strong, efficient and effective. The brain-body systems begin developing in utero, and make rapid developments after birth. The ND curriculum focuses on developing strong foundations in the ares of sensory integration, primitive reflex integration and developmental movement patterns. The work in this area supports the development of gross and find motor skills, as well as social and cognitive response, allowing children to step out of primitive motor patterns and survival reactions. It teaches the brain-body system how to experience less stress and greater ease in learning. We utilize a wide variety of ND tools, techniques and modalities. Our team is always looking for new and innovative ways to support the growth of the brain and the body at the earliest levels of development. Some of modalities we currently use: BrainGym, Rhythmic Movement Training, MNRI, HANDLE, BalAVisX, Quantum Reflex Integration and Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT).

2. Relationship Development (RD) is the process of learning to make meaningful and strong connections with others. Our approach to RD builds dynamic intelligence and teaches the unwritten rules of how to be in true relationship with others. Children learn to attend to others in their environment, to reference for information, to co- regulate in emotion sharing and to coordinate actions. They learn to enjoy being with others, not for any tangible gain, but for the joy that comes from making and keeping friends. As the child matures in the area of neurodevelopment, he unlocks new possibilities for the limbic system to grow and mature. The limbic system is our emotional center, and has strong connections to memory, learning and play. Our RD coaches utilize frameworks to teach these dynamic skills in a predictable ways, allowing children multiple opportunities to learn, practice and build fluency in the language of relationship.

3.Behavior Development (BD) is the process of building a repertoire of functional and supportive actions, that provide a basic framework for self-regulation (impulse control) and group readiness (impulse control in a group setting) to emerge. Maturation in the areas of ND and RD, allow the child to exert higher levels of cortical control over their actions. Using principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), such as positive reinforcement, chaining, shaping, redirection and prompting, children learn what works to produce the outcome they desire. The additional resources that ND & RD provide allow children to respond positively to behavior intervention plans and strategies. Our BD curriculum incorporates the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) Model, which supports the child in learning new and more functional ways of coping with and managing stressors.