Lake Nokomis Community School Autism Program
This program serves Minneapolis Public Schools students from Kindergarten to grade 8 with significant educational needs related to an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Individuals appropriate for this special program are those who require a higher level of special education service than can be provided in the student’s community or home school. Special education services are designed to support students demonstrating characteristics related to ASD which may include:
  • Significant impairment in reciprocal social interaction (for developmental level).
  • Significant impairment in verbal and nonverbal communication (for developmental level).
  • Restricted repertoire of activities and interests.
  • Apparent sensory dysfunction as evidenced by under-or-over-responsiveness to touch, light, sound, or pain.
  • Uneven acquisition of skills and difficulty integrating and generalizing acquired skills.
  • Repetitive, self-stimulatory behaviors including obsessive-compulsive behaviors and ritualistic behaviors.

Program Description:

The Autism program is designed to serve students who have been identified as having Autism Spectrum Disorders. Program components include highly structured, individualized programming, intensive communication and language training, social skills training, utilization of natural environments for instruction, positive behavioral programming, educationally based sensory activities, as appropriate, and inclusion with mainstream peers and activities when appropriate. Related services including speech/language, occupational therapy, and adaptive physical education are also provided based on individual need.


Special education teachers have access and are trained in a variety of research-based curricula. Curricula will be selected based on individual student need and IEP team discussion with consideration of curriculum being utilized in general education. Citywide ASD service staff/Special Education Department provide teachers information and training on a variety of curricula that have been found to be appropriate for students with ASD. Ultimately, continuous progress monitoring of individual goals and objectives guide educational and curricular decisions.

Service Delivery Models:

Elementary and Middle School: A continuum of services is offered. Such services range from a full inclusion model (for students pursuing academic goals exclusively) to a functional skills model (for students pursuing remedial academic, life skills, and community skills). Services are provided in included and separate settings, as appropriate. Individual student needs, goals and services are determined by the IEP team.


Each classroom/caseload (approximately 8-10 students) consists of one licensed special education teacher and two special education assistants. Services provided by social workers, occupational therapists, speech/language clinicians, and adapted physical education teachers are also available at each site based on individual student need.


For placement in the Citywide ASD program, students must be eligible to receive special education services. A comprehensive educational evaluation with current student educational needs must be completed. Prior to program referral, school teams must consult with the Citywide Autism Specialist and attempt educational interventions in the student’s least restrictive environment. A person knowledgeable in Autism Spectrum Disorders (District Autism Specialist) must be on the student’s IEP team. Program placement is an IEP team decision based on student needs as identified by current evaluation and intervention results. While parents and the IEP team can indicate a site preference, site placement is based on space availability.