Currently there are no curriculum guides which fully address the complexities inherent in teaching children with autism across ages, abilities, and learning styles using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Over the past 5 years the New England Center for Children has been developing The Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia® (ACE®), a computerized database comprised of lesson plans, assessment protocols, and record keeping tools for professionals serving children with autism. The federal assistance granted by the "Fund for the Improvement of Education program; Title V, Part D, Subpart 1, Sections 5411-5413 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act" will enable The New England Center for Children to advance the development of a powerful and greatly needed instructional tool, the ACE®, for teachers of children with autism. Specifically it will further the development of several features of the ACE® which will allow for the dissemination of this curriculum to teachers around the country, including web accessibility, the development of demonstration videos for teachers and the development of individual and aggregate reporting systems which will enhance tracking of individual student progress and overall program evaluation.
The ACE® can be used by teachers serving children with autism from the age of 2 through adulthood. Its curriculum, assessment, and report capabilities meet the needs of children served in intensive settings to those participating in inclusive programs. In order to make the ACE® more widely available the application must be hosted off site and accessed through the internet. Funding from this grant will help to support the ACE® in moving to this secure platform, allowing easy access by teachers across the country in a variety of settings with children of various ability levels.
The ACE® has a capacity to include a video clip of each teaching session. We would like expand the functionality of this feature in a number of ways. First we would like to offer the user the option of viewing not only the teaching procedure but other components of the curriculum sheet (ex. setting up materials, correcting a mistake). This would be extremely valuable as we begin to train less experienced teachers in using the ACE®. A second area of expansion is the addition of a video monitoring component. This would allow teachers in the classroom to directly contact clinicians at NECC via video to review classroom teaching programs, offer feedback and training in real-time. We continually track student progress on all assessment and curriculum in the ACE®. We are looking to expand our reporting capabilities to allow for aggregate program reports within students as well as reports across students from different programs. Reports will be designed to identify curriculum which are highly successful in increasing student independence and those which result in slower progress. Once programs are identified as less successful, remedial curriculum can be developed and incorporated into the ACE®.
We are actively continuing to increase the capabilities of the ACE® and to expand the user base beyond the New England Center for Children. Our goal is to provide the ACE® to others working within the autism community. We have presented the ACE® on a limited basis to other professionals within the field. Preliminary response has been very encouraging. We have received a number of requests for access to the ACE®. We have just begun to discuss the strategy by which we might approach this task. This federal funding will allow us to move forward at a quicker pace getting the ACE® into the hands of teachers of children with autism around the country.