Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a Ziggurat? 

A: A ziggurat is a terraced or stair-stepped pyramid. We use the levels of the ziggurat to represent different areas of intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Q: The title of your book says, “High-Functioning.” Is the model used for classic autism?

A: The model is for people across the whole spectrum and of all ages. It is being used widely with students with classic ASD. We emphasized high functioning in the book because we see this group as the least well served currently.

A reminder, the model is a framework into which the strategies are plugged. The framework helps to make sure that critical areas are not left unaddressed (the reason so many interventions fail and the reason for many unnecessary meltdowns). Once users have learned the model, they can choose the strategies appropriate for the individual and “plug” them in at the appropriate level.

Q: Why aren’t communication and social skills levels on the Ziggurat?

A: The levels of Ziggurat represent areas for intervention. They are collectively referred to as the Intervention Ziggurat. Each level is designed to address the characteristics of autism such as communication and social skill deficits. One may develop interventions to address these needs on any level of the Intervention Ziggurat.

Q: What is a Task Demand intervention?

A: Task Demands interventions involve removing obstacles or providing supports to facilitate success. Task demand interventions are designed to ensure that students are not required to participate in activities or to complete assignments that exceed their abilities. A reduction of demands and the addition of supports is required to facilitate success.

Q: What is the ISSI and where can I find it?

A: The Individual Strengths and Skills Inventory (ISSI) is an assessment tool that parallels the Underlying Characteristics Checklist (UCC). The purpose of the ISSI is to help to identify strengths to use when designing a comprehensive intervention plan.

Q: What is the CAPS Model and how is it related to the Ziggurat Model?

A: The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS) was designed by Shawn Henry. The CAPS helps teams to move from intervention design (using the Ziggurat Model) to implementation. In short, CAPS guides the process of making a plan a reality.

Q: How can I learn more about the Ziggurat Model?

A: The books describe the process and each level of the Intervention Ziggurat in detail. We offer workshops and present at national conferences.