As the population of students with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities (ARD) increases (1 in 110 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. (CDC, 2010)), educators need strategies and resources to improve their ability to teach these students in general education classrooms and neighborhood schools alongside non-disabled peers. Over 30 years of research has shown that academic and other important outcomes are positively correlated with the amount of time students with ARD spend in general education classrooms. Furthermore, the high costs and poorer outcomes associated with educating students with ARD in out-of-district and/or segregated placements are troubling to families, schools, and communities.
These data point to the need for a comprehensive approach to improving outcomes by responding to the following needs:
¿ Curricula for scholars enrolled in higher education programs in education and related services based on the most current research and evidence-based practices.
¿ Emerging research translated and broadly disseminated to teachers in ways that are accessible, useable, and sustainable.
¿ Administrators with the knowledge and skills to support implementation of best practices and sustainability over time.
¿ Families, adults with disabilities, and youth with and without disabilities with knowledge and leadership skills to be fully represented in local, state, and national practice and policy.
¿ State and national policies informed by best practices in order that regulations, funding formulas, and enforcement activities support access to the general education curriculum, graduation, post-secondary education, and productive adult lives.
This project will focus its efforts on seven core areas: leadership, professional development, pre-service preparation, elementary school model demonstration, development of state-level systems of professional development and technical assistance, research and policy, and dissemination.
Over 500 professionals and parents will be impacted directly by this project's activities, and an additional 10,000 will have access to project information and products through our dissemination activities. These project activities will directly affect the educational programs and outcomes of approximately 1,000 students with autism and related disabilities.