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Lesson Plan a La Carte™

Lesson Plan a la Carte cover image

Lesson Plan a La Carte™ is a menu-based planning model that provides teachers and case teams with streamlined protocols for creating or adapting lesson plans for students with cognitive, sensory and social differences. The result is an Integrated Lesson Plan that melds academic with therapeutic objectives directly in the classroom for authentic learning. A qualitative and quantitative data collection tool is embedded in the model to document best practices. Includes planning templates and protocols.

Teachers and clinicians tend to think, speak and work differently in schools, and often have separate priorities and goals.  Lesson Plan a la Carte guides educators through a simple, step-by-step process of creating an integrated lesson plan that addresses the social, environmental and communication challenges that often block students’ access to academics and other learning opportunities.

This model helps to integrate the best clinical and educational practices into a plan that speaks a common language and aligns and focuses priorities, goals and strategies.

The core components of this research-based planning model are two types of menus: Therapeutic and Considerations for Planning. After using the Therapeutic Menus to identify obstacles to learning and how to address them utilizing best teaching and therapeutic practices, the Considerations for Planning Menus help answer the question of how to implement appropriate changes. Additional templates for working solo or with a team, suggest classroom modifications such as decreasing the length of assignments, changing the lighting in the room, etc., all depending on the student’s needs.

As the slim, 90-page volume indicates, the authors don’t want to add more work to educators’ already busy day. The book makes an educator’s existing workload easier to manage by helping them easily create well-designed and integrated lesson plans that bring together learning objectives, therapeutic supports and modifications students need right in the classroom.  Best of all, the plans can be carried out solo or by a team.

Lesson Plan a la Carte™ Autism Asperger Publishing Company

“This is a must-have for every school serving students with special needs! It provides the framework for teachers and therapists to share their perspectives and meet each student’s needs during every lesson. The authors understand the time limitations of a school staff and have made this book very easy to use. The lesson plan templates are great, and even more helpful are the Therapeutic Menus and Planning Considerations. I applaud the authors for providing schools with a comprehensive and streamlined approach to lesson planning.”

– Margaret Poggi, MA, CCC/SLP, head of school, LearningSpring School


The Menus

The core components of the Lesson Plan a la Carte planning model are its menus. You will become familiar with them quickly when you begin to write your own lesson plans, but for now, it’s helpful to know that there are two types of menus, which are identified throughout this manual with special icons for easy use.

 - Therapeutic Menus

 - Considerations for Planning Menus

These menu sets will support you in the lesson planning and writing process. You will turn to them often. In fact, you’ll read through them each time you create a new lesson, picking and choosing items the same way you would if you were ordering a la carte from a menu in a restaurant.


Using the Therapeutic Menus

When you have identified the particular obstacles to learning of a student, or a group of students, it’s helpful to “translate” those obstacles into a format that gives you a basis for deciding which therapeutic areas to target within the lesson plan. While not exhaustive, we have grouped the areas in which students typically experience challenges into four categories, each represented by menus:

1. Language & Communication Menu

2. Attention & Executive Functioning Menu

3. Social & Emotional Menu

4. Sensory & Regulatory Menu

As illustrated, each of these menus consists of lists of possible clinical descriptions (or underlying causes) for the obstacles to learning that you or your team are observing. Note that they are not meant to diagnose a student or suggest a definitive causal relationship between an obstacle to learning and a specific deficit.  Behavioral, academic, and social difficulties in the classroom may have underlying causes in multiple categories or even in multiple areas within a particular menu. As you’ll see, the Therapeutic Menus are used primarily as a brainstorming tool, before you even begin to design or write a lesson plan. Thus, the point of their use isn’t to find the “right” item on the menu. Similarly, in the brainstorming stage, there aren’t any “wrong” descriptions. Instead, you’re simply perusing the menu, seeking any variety of ways to describe the issues you’ve identified as obstacles to learning.

The team and solo templates facilitate the brainstorming and finalizing of the lesson plans.  Guided instructions are printed right on the template forms which are provided in the book and on the accompanying CD.


“As a physician who cares for children with special needs, I routinely write recommendations for educational modifications and therapeutic strategies, anticipating these will be included in IEPs and 504 plans. Always a concerning question – until Lesson Plan a la Carte – has been how these recommendations would translate into an integrated approach to enhance a child’s learning. This book, in very readable format with helpful examples, provides practical and easy-to-implement solutions.”

– Monica R. Meyer, MD; developmental-behavioral pediatrician

“Dr. Paradiz and colleagues have gifted the educational community with a vital resource that provides the structure needed for developing highly effective lesson plans that are aligned with regulatory requirements of today’s school settings. Whether used by individuals or in collaborative settings, educators and other professionals will find this book invaluable for integrating all aspects of a student’s educational plan while addressing and lowering barriers presented by sensory, cognitive, emotional, and other challenges while promoting student success in education and beyond. This book will find a place in my college courses when I teach about IEP development for students with autism and other special needs.”

– Stephen Shore, EdD, professor of Special Education, Adelphi University; internationally known author, consultant, and presenter on issues related to the autism spectrum


About Valerie's Co-authors:

Sarah Olivieri, MPS, is involved with a number of organizations serving children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum. She co-founded the Open Center for Autism in 2005 with Valerie Paradiz and has served as the deputy director of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) and executive director of the Helping Children of War Foundation. Sarah received her BA from the University of Chicago with a focus on globalization and its effect on marginalized cultures, studying in Spain, Tanzania, and Cuba, and finally moving to Japan to teach English. In 2009 she completed a master’s degree in humanistic and multicultural education at SUNY New Paltz. Currently Sarah works with human service organizations to improve their online presense and enjoys developing media for organizations serving individuals on the autism spectrum. Learn more at www.pivotground.com

Michelle DeFelice Haverly, MS, has been a teacher of people with special needs for over 15 years. During those years, she has served as a special educator of students with a wide range of abilities in various settings. She has also been a college instructor, tutor, Special Olympics coach and trainer, workshop writer, program developer, volunteer, consultant, presenter, and mentor. Michelle currently writes workshop materials and trains school-related professionals, as well as teachers and consults with school districts to improve the quality of education for all students, especially those with ASD and related diagnoses. Michelle is a wife and mother of two neurotypical children who attend an integrated preschool. She authored an article about her family’s preschool experience in the Autism Advocate, published by the Autism Society of America.

Todd Germain, OTR, LCSW, is a clinical social worker and occupational therapist with advanced training in child and adolescent psychotherapy from the William Alanson White Institute. Todd has a private practice in Manhattan where he works primarily with children and families around a variety of developmental and social-emotional issues. He has taught clinical social work at Fordham University and is an integrated planning consultant for The Cooke Center for Learning and Development.