“All genuine learning comes through experience.” – John Dewey

Beacon Day School believes every student should have access to the greater community around them; whether going to the movies, shopping in a grocery store, attending a special event, going to the library or simply enjoying a beautiful day at a local park or beach, our student population deserves to engage in meaningful interactions within society and build strong ties and relationships within their communities. The ability for students to generalize the important skills they learn at Beacon is the foundation for their future success beyond the classroom, which is why we take their education into the real world, where students have the opportunity to apply their skills and strategies in everyday circumstances and activities.


Our Community Based Instruction (CBI) program is designed to support the unique needs of our students, who often face challenges that may impede their ability to safely navigate the world around them and enjoy activities, events, and places many take for granted.


Community Based Instruction outings are different from field trips, which are centered on a single opportunity to experience a special event or location. In contrast, CBI outings provide ongoing access to a variety of places and experiences within the community and continuous opportunities for students to practice participating in these outings with the support of trained staff, which facilitate the process and provide appropriate accommodations and positive behavior interventions as necessary.


Skills addressed during CBIs differ for each student and are individualized to meet their specific IEP and/or Behavior Intervention Plan goals. These skills and goals may include:

  • Using money to purchase items in stores, as well as pay for tickets and meals

  • Ordering from a menu at a restaurant

  • Requesting breaks or assistance

  • Trying new experiences

  • Practicing transitioning from one location/event to another

  • Riding public transportation

  • Safety in the community

  • Using functional communication skills across settings and individuals

  • Interacting with employees and patrons using appropriate communication and social skills


CBI at Beacon


Our CBI outings include a variety of locations, chosen specifically to optimize learning and provide unique opportunities to generalize acquired skills across diverse environments. Our CBI outings are well-organized and purposeful, providing students with consistent opportunities to access their community safely and successfully using evidence-based interventions and supports.


During CBI outings, students are transported in Beacon vehicles, which are equipped with GPS technology, allowing for streamlined communication between classes on a CBI trip and staff back on Beacon’s campus. Should a need arise for extra support, or should a student need to return to campus for any reason, Beacon is able to dispatch additional staff members immediately. 


Parents are provided with a list of proposed CBI outings for the year and must give permission for their child to attend each trip by filling out the appropriate forms provided. Certain CBI outings may have a cost or require specific items students need to bring, such as a sack lunch or appropriate swim attire. The details of each CBI and any coinciding action items will be communicated by the teacher and/or support staff. Suggestions for CBI locations are welcome and can be emailed directly to the teacher for review.


Depending upon the location, group, and individual student needs, staff attending a CBI outing may include the teacher, students’ individual behavior interventionists, nursing staff, speech and language therapist, a BCBA, and the classroom lead behavior interventionist. Prior to each CBI, classroom and student needs are carefully assessed, and appropriate accommodations and supports are put in place.


CBI in Research


Research has made clear time and again adults diagnosed with autism and related disorders struggle with independent living and finding employment after leaving the school system. A lack of meaningful vocational training, shortage of gainful job opportunities, and failure to provide evidence-based interventions during the school years designed to facilitate skill acquisition in areas of adaptive living, communication, social skills, and reduction of maladaptive behaviors can lead to poor vocational and independent living outcomes for adults on the spectrum (Seaman & Cannella-Malone, 2016).


Recognized through research as an important component in the successful transition  of students with autism and developmental disabilities from post-school life into adulthood, community based instruction has been shown to support students in acquiring skills necessary to navigate their communities more independently (Walker, Uphold, Richter & Test, 2010).


Beacon Day School is committed to providing every student and family we serve with research-based interventions designed to enhance learning and support significant progress for students in all areas of impairment, so both quality of life and post-secondary school outcomes are greatly improved. Community based instruction is a vital part of our school program, providing students access to the world around them, a world they belong to, a world we are committed to preparing them for.




Seaman, R. L., & Cannella-Malone, H. I. (2016). Vocational skills interventions for adults with autism spectrum disorder: A review of the literature. Journal Of Developmental And Physical Disabilities, 28(3), 479-494. doi:10.1007/s10882-016-9479-z


Walker, A. R., Uphold, N. M., Richter, S., & Test, D. W. (2010). Review of the Literature on Community-Based Instruction across Grade Levels. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45(2), 245-267.

Community Based Instruction