This project will provide specialized training in autism with a rigorous doctoral program in communication disorders for at least ten doctoral students. This will support leadership training of communication disorders specialists in the area of autism. The project further aims to address new guidelines of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association expanding the role of speech-language pathologists in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of autism across the life span. Research-validated practices will be integrated into the program curricula to produce personnel with highly specialized skills and knowledge about autism. Specialists trained in this program will be equipped to assume leadership roles in personnel preparation, research, and program and policy development for high-quality school programs serving children and youth with autism. The model is competency based and involves the following experiences: (a) participation in a set of core courses on evidence-based practice for students with autism and a four-semester sequence of topics offered in a leadership seminar on autism over two years; (b) leadership mentoring by project faculty and CARD staff; (c) involvement in 16 hours/week of autism-related research activities with project faculty; (d) involvement in four hours/week of program and policy development activities with CARD staff in collaboration with other State agencies; and (e) completion of student-initiated projects that demonstrate mastery of leadership competencies in teaching, research, and supervision.