Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Southern Connecticut State University Center for Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders  

Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) is requesting funds to support the development of its Center of Excellence in Autism Spectrum Disorders, a Center positioned to serve as a statewide resource focused on developing and delivering effective, innovative training and technical assistance to PK-12 teachers, other school personnel, families, and community service providers in the use of evidenced based practices for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This initiative developed in response to the increasing numbers of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders and need to prepare a highly qualified workforce to meet individualized needs. The rising trend in the identification of children with ASD over the past ten years is well documented. A recent study by Kogan, et al. (2009) places prevalence to one child per 91 children. The Center on Disease Control confirmed these rates as close to what is reported in a soon to be released publication stating approximately 1% of children are affected by ASD, and that ASD is an "urgent public health concern and these data affirm that a concerted and substantial national response is warranted"(CDC, 2009). The rapid rise in prevalence of ASD in Connecticut mirrors the national trend with the 1998 prevalence rate of 1.8% growing to 4.2% in 2004 and reaching 7.4% in 2008 in looking at Connecticut students with an individualized education program for an autism spectrum disorder (CSDE, 2009). Anticipated difficulties in providing appropriate services for the rising numbers of students with ASD in Connecticut led the Connecticut General Assembly to pass Special Act 08-5, "An Act Concerning the Teaching of Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities" in June 2008. SCSU was designated as a leader on conducting this study in partnership with representatives from the Departments of Education, Higher Education and Developmental Services. Study data collected through public forums, online surveys, e-mail communication, and document review revealed that parents, administrators, educators, and paraprofessional staff across the state need to better understand the core characteristics of ASD in order to effectively support program development and implement appropriate practices. Findings suggested a general lack of available training across Connecticut, particularly training addressing social deficits and curricula and activities aligned with evidence-based instructional approaches regarding social skills. Participants residing in rural locations reported inequitable access to resources related to training in ASD and qualified service providers. Although respondents were familiar with evidence-based practices by name, there was lack of awareness of where to get training in these practices or how to locate qualified consultants or providers. There was an expressed need for a single agency that could be utilized by anyone in the state educating or raising a child with autism concerning evidence-based practices and applications to teaching. The 08-5 report recommended that the state promote the establishment of a new Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders at SCSU, with the primary mission focused on researching and developing best practice training models for educators and related service providers; coordinating and disseminating resources; collaborating with multiple agencies and organizations to streamline efforts; promoting a unified network throughout the state sharing practices critical for ensuring children and youth receive a FAPE in the least restrictive environment. With these federal funds, SCSU will begin building the Center that will offer empirically validated training and technical assistance which can be accessed by all Connecticut regions. Project funds will be specifically used to design and field-test staff development models and related training materials that have the potential efficacy to improve outcomes for children and youth with ASD. Funds will also support partnerships with parent organizations and state agencies serving the ASD population along with special projects that will have a more immediate impact on children with ASD and their families. The applicants' extensive work in the Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Education fields will serve to ensure the development of evidence-based activities and products that can be utilized by providers within most education environments. Although there are a number of curricula available that address the general classroom wide interventions, there are few, if any that also include a process for implementing and assessing strategies which have been first field-tested and validated for technical precision and fidelity. Project Status


Funder Department of Education
Fiscal Year Funding $300,000.00
Current Award Period 2010-2011
Project Number U215K100136
Principal Investigator Eren, Ruth
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 5: Where Can I Turn For Services? (Services)
Subcategory Practitioner Training
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 5LC. Evaluate new and existing pre-service and in-service training to increase skill levels in service providers, including direct support workers, parents and legal guardians, education staff, and public service workers to benefit the spectrum of people with ASD and promote interdisciplinary practice by 2015. IACC Recommended Budget: $8,000,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Southern Connecticut State University
State/Country Connecticut
Web Link 1 Southern Connecticut State University Center for Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
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