Archived News: In Research and Intervention
May 2014

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.


Training Paraprofessionals Improves Socialization in Students with ASD

In a recent issue of the Journal for Autism and Developmental Disorders, Koegel, Kim, and Koegel (2014) found that paraprofessionals can implement social interventions successfully with training and follow-up support. Based on the current literature, the authors identified three interventions that were presented in a 1-hour workshop. The three interventions were appropriate proximity, cooperative arrangements, and the use of child preferred interests. The workshop included a PowerPoint presentation on how to implement each of the three interventions into the student with ASD’s social activities. Video modeling of correct and incorrect implementation by paraprofessionals was used. The workshop included activities to demonstrate a general understanding of each intervention. Feedback was given to each of the paraprofessionals during the workshop and during observations with fidelity checks. All three paraprofessionals made significant improvement directly after the training, achieving 80% fidelity or above. At the end of the study, the three target students improved in the amount of time engaged and rate of initiations with typically developing peers.

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Research Indicates Youngsters with Autism Show Motor Deficits

An April, 2014 article on Healthday News cites a recent study published by the journal Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. The study, which assessed more than 150 children, found that children with autism were nearly a year behind their neurotypical peers in the development of fine motor skills. Further, they were about six months behind in the area of gross motor skills. These deficits affect the ability to perform activities like holding a spoon, running and jumping. These findings indicate the need for the inclusion of motor skills development in programs for children with autism.

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