CARES to deliver autism training to San Marcos, Round Rock, Pflugerville school districts
The Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation and Support (CARES) at Texas State University has been awarded a $280,000 grant for 2020-2021 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The project will provide board certified behavior analyst training for 114 teachers and paraprofessionals serving 1,025 students with autism spectrum disorder in San Marcos, Pflugerville and Round Rock school districts.
“This is an evidence-based intervention that’s the most commonly used approach to the education and treatment of children with autism,” said Russ Lang, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and executive director of CARES. “It systematically breaks down target skills into little pieces and teaches those pieces in such a way that a child with autism is able to master a skill that might otherwise be difficult to teach.
“It relies on reinforcing or rewarding the correct behavior, using prompts, things like that,” he said. “Generally, if you were to observe it, it would look like high quality instruction, but there are some technical components to it that make it applied behavior analysis.”
Initially, the training was to be delivered to individual teachers in their classrooms. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that specialized training will be delivered remotely. CARES is moving the instruction online, and some of the grant will fund online curriculum.
“This grant will pay staff salary in CARES and those staff are going to train a large number of teachers and a large number of paraprofessionals that are currently working in schools,” Lang said. “What we do is go into the teachers’ classrooms and in collaboration with the teacher, identify a need in that classroom, an intervention that would benefit them. Then we’d teach them using skills training. Now, we’re going to try and move that online, and we will coach them through it as they work through the online program.”