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News In Research and Intervention

Personalized Approach to Teaching Communication Skills

On July 17, 2014, the ScienceDaily highlighted a study on the success of personalized communication interventions for children with autism, between the 5-8 years old. In particular, Kasari et al. (2014) focused on the impact of using computer tablets for communication instruction, in addition to speech-generating devices, to teach socio-communication skills. The researchers found that children receiving behavioral intervention, in conjunction with socio-communication therapy and technology, learned to communicate faster. Unique to this study was the researchers’ ability to tweak interventions to the individual child based on their progress.

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Providing Transition Services by Age 14 Produces Better Vocational Outcomes

In a recent article in Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, Cimera, Burgess, and Bedesem (2014) found that providing transition services by age 14 could increase the number of individuals with intellectual disabilities being gainfully employed. Participants were young adults identified with an intellectual disability (ID) and separated into two categories: 7, 520 participants who received transition services at age 14 and 7, 520 participants who received transition services at age 16.

Over the 4 year study, 58% of individuals with ID, who received early transition services (age 14), were employed, whereas only 45% of individuals with ID who received late transition services (age 16) were employed. This study replicated the Cimera, Burgess, and Wiley (2013) study that examined the age of transition for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Cimera, Burgess, and Wiley found similar findings for individuals with ASD and noted a decrease in cost for earlier transition services. The 2014 study did not find that cost of transition services decreased with providing earlier transition services for individuals with ID. In summary, both studies found that additional transition services can improve vocational outcomes for individuals with ID and ASD.

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Professional Development Needs Related to Educating Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

In a recent issue of Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Brock et al. (2014) found that practitioners were not highly confident in implementing the 24 identified evidence-based practices. These same practitioners did not express interest in learning more about the evidence-based practices. Administrators and teachers were both surveyed on priorities for training topics. Administrators were interested in training their teachers on evidence-based practices used to address problem behavior. On the other hand, teachers were more interested in professional development related to autism and inclusion in general education. Most surprisingly, teachers and administrators view workshops as more beneficial that coaching or college courses. Teachers reported that workshops are more accessible than coaching opportunities. Geographic area was associated with teacher interest in professional development. Teachers located in rural areas were less likely to be interested in both trainings that require travel and trainings that require little to no travel. Brock et al. (2014) recommend consideration of local ASD-related trainings and professional development priorities based on teacher skill level and evidence-based practices.

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Visit the National Professional Development Center (NPDC) on Autism Spectrum Disorders website for more information on evidence-based practices (EBP).

Click here to view the 2014 EBP Report from the NPDC – 27 evidence-based practices are now identified.


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