The 12 Competencies of Our ASD Program

The School for Asperger’s/HFA at Trident Academy offers a comprehensive program developed individually for each student. Every student takes the ABLLS Assessment (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning) at the beginning, middle and end of every academic year. The results of this test tell teachers exactly what skills each student has, his/her emerging skills, and areas of improvement.

Using the ABLLS results, teachers create a Formalized Education Plan (FEP) for each student. It is similar to an IEP, but goes beyond just academics to identify the social and environmental skills that students need.

Trident Academy Program Director Nicole McLain has developed 12 core competencies that each child works toward. Her acronym is RENAISSANCE.

R – receptive language
E – expressive language
N – non-verbal language
A – attending and imitation
I – independent living skills
S – social skills
S – school readiness
A – academics
N – neurophysiological development (gross motor)
C – concept formation skills
E – environmental readiness

Every student’s FEP has a goal for each competency and unlike IEPs, FEPs are updated frequently – even every four or five days if a student progresses in one area.

“For example, one student’s goal for neurophysiological development might be to pick up 10 beads with tweezers every day for three consecutive days,” McLain explains. “Once the child has mastered the task, his/her FEP will be updated, and a new goal will be created.”

The ultimate goal of the program is for every student to transition to a traditional school, and FEPs help both teachers and parents determine the student’s readiness.

To learn more about the Core Competencies at Trident Academy, contact Nicole McLain at or 843.884.7046.

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