The Lee University Developmental Inclusion Classroom (LUDIC) is a program that invites Lee students to volunteer and interact with children and students who have autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and other related conditions.
LUDIC Director Dr. Tammy Johnson said that LUDIC can always use student volunteers to assist in teaching kindergarten to high school students using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
“[The main purpose of LUDIC] is to provide intensive intervention for students with ASD and related conditions—for example, intellectual disability, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome—using Applied Behavior Analysis, which is the gold standard of treatment for individuals with ASD,” Johnson said.
According to the official Applied Behavior Analysis EDU website, ABA is defined as "the practice of applying the psychological principles of learning theory in a systematic way to alter behavior in humans or animals.”
According the website, ABA, at this time, is one of the only scientifically valid therapies available for the treatment of ASD.
Classroom teacher at LUDIC and Lee alumni Ashlee Douglas said that ABA redirects thinking in a positive way.
“The way we correct the kids and our [use of] ABA thinking has brought a lot of redirecting in my thinking or viewpoint of life,” Douglas said. “Instead of saying ‘no’ or being negative, I’m now thinking about ways that I can improve a situation instead of bringing negativity [into] it.”
Volunteers at LUDIC are taught how to use ABA and other methods in order to interact with the students in a more productive and helpful manner.
Johnson said that she has loved her time at LUDIC.
“I love seeing the students learn things many people wondered if they would ever learn,” Johnson said. “I love that we change students' lives and the lives of their families. I love that there is never a school day that ends when I have to wonder, ‘did I make a difference today?’”
Freshman communication major Dariana Blanton said that it took her some time to adjust to using ABA.
“I would always catch myself just saying ‘no,’ but [I] have to take a step back and really think about what [I’m] saying and actually tell them what they’re doing wrong,” Blanton said. “I developed patience. I thought I was always a patient person but it definitely helped me a lot with [growing] in my patience.”
Blanton said she enjoys the connections she makes with students and her time at LUDIC.
“I would recommend [volunteering],” Blanton said. “Don’t be scared to do it. I was scared going into it because I was worried about saying something wrong or making a mistake. Take that step to go there and do it.”
Douglas said that resources to prepare volunteers are available online.
“[Volunteers] should look up ABA. We never say ‘no’ to a kid; we always redirect them,” Douglas said.
LUDIC volunteers are not required to work directly with the students, as making crafts and helping to plan lessons are also volunteering opportunities.
“The more hands we have here, the more we accomplish,” Johnson said. “Having a volunteer is a great benefit. If you want to go to some place that you can be sure that what you’re doing matters, this is the place to do that.”
If you are interested in volunteering, you can pick up applications at the Leonard Center or contact LUDIC via email at Ludicvista@leeuniversity.edu.
LUDIC school hours are from 8:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.