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News In Research and Intervention

Pivotal Response Treatment Shows Promising Results

A recent study revealed the positive benefits of pivotal response treatment in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Pivotal response treatment is similar to applied behavior analysis but more specifically targets the social deficits seen in children with autism. The study included 10 preschoolers with autism. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed on the children both at the beginning of the study and after a period of exposure to pivotal response treatment. All children showed substantial movement towards the neural responses seen in typically developing children. Of note is the fact that both the children who exhibited hypoactivation in the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and hyperactivation of the pSTS demonstrated movement towards typical neural responses. These promising results suggest that further studies should be performed to consider the benefits of pivotal response treatment in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

To view the entire article, click here.


Federal Guidance on Communication Needs in Schools

In a recent joint letter from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, the needs of individuals with communication disabilities were addressed. Schools were reminded that they must comply with all three federal laws pertaining to meeting the needs of individuals with communication difficulties: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). Federal officials wrote that schools must “ensure that communication with students with hearing, vision and speech disabilities is as effective as communication with all other students.” Students who are receiving a free appropriate public education with special education services as required by IDEA must still receive equally effective communication with other students through the use of auxiliary aids or services as required by Title II. Such aids and services may consist of the use of sign language interpreters, braille and augmentative and alternative communication devices.

For more assistance meeting the communication needs of students, please access our Expressive and Receptive Communication Inventory for Emerging Language Learners and Augmentative and Alternative Communication Inventory. For more information on federal guidance on communication needs in schools, read the Frequently Asked Questions on Effective Communication for Students with Hearing, Vision or Speech Disabilities in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.


Train the Trainer Effectiveness for Individuals with Autism

In a recent article, published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Yoshiko-Shire and Kasari (2014) compiled a systematic review of train the trainer effectiveness of behavior interventions. Results indicated that participants are benefiting from behavioral interventions in the areas of cognition, language and autism symptoms post-community delivered interventions. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the primary behavioral intervention used in the examined studies. The outcome effects for participants with ASD varied based on their developmental level. Train the trainer supports interventionists and community trainers to provide preliminary support for the provision of behavior services to individuals with ASD. Yoshiko-Shire and Kasari (2014) indicate that train the trainer literature should expand to include social communication skills to include varied participant outcomes.

Reference: Yoshiko-Shire, S., & Kasari, C. (2014). Train the trainer effectiveness trials of behavioral intervention for individuals with autism: A systematic review. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 119(5), 436-451.


How Do We Make the Transition to College Successful for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

We are conducting a survey on the challenges and strengths of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) related to transition out of high-school and into higher education. We are conducting this study to inform development of a new transition support program.

Participation involves completion of a brief, anonymous online survey. We are enrolling three groups of participants: (1) young people with ASD (between 16 and 25 years of age), including high-school students (who are at least 16 years old), college students (either 2-year or 4-year college), (2) parents of children/adults with ASD (who are between 16 and 25 years of age); and (3) professionals working with students with disabilities, especially high-school students and undergraduate students with ASD. Participants receive a $10.00 gift card for their time upon completion of the survey (the survey takes about 40 minutes).

If you would like to complete the survey, please send an email to

Project website:

Phone: 540-231-6744


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