Autism & Developmental Disabilities

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teacher showing happy and sad faces to student with autism

Supporting individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism, as well as their caregivers and service providers, is central to the work of FPG. Understanding developmental trajectories and the impact of a developmental disability on the individual, family, and broader community informs both theory and practice. High-quality intervention across the age range can ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families fully participate in their community in ways that are meaningful to them. FPG investigators have identified central features of high-quality intervention, such as family-focused programming, early childhood inclusion, and the use of identified evidence-based practices. They lead the field in translating scientific knowledge into practical information for teachers and service providers, and actively join their colleagues from implementation science in promoting adoption and use of effective intervention practices in schools, homes, and community settings.

Featured FPG News Story

Funded with a grant of nearly $700K from the U.S. Department of Education, a team from FPG recently launched Project EXPRESS: EXamining interventions to PRomote Executive function and Social Skills. Jessica Steinbrenner, PhD, CCC-SLP, an FPG advanced research scientist, is the principal investigator on this five-year study evaluating two treatment programs working with adolescents on the autism spectrum.

Featured Resource

Autism at-a-Glance is a series of practitioner and family-friendly documents created by the Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD (CSESA) designed for high school staff members supporting students on the autism spectrum, as well as family members of adolescents with ASD. This installment was designed to support practitioners and family members in promoting self-determination for adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.

Featured Person

Samuel L. Odom, PhD, is a senior research scientist at FPG and research professor emeritus in the UNC School of Education. His research has addressed topics related to early childhood inclusion and preschool readiness although most of his current research focuses on autism. Odom is co-principal investigator on Project EXPRESS: EXamining interventions to PRomote Executive function and Social Skills and co-director of the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice.

Current Projects

The FPG Autism Team will provide professional development training on the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS). The training will be for nine participants who are team members or affiliates of the Autism Professional Learning & Universal Supports Project at Illinois State University.
This model demonstration seeks to increase family uptake of developmental screenings and service enrollment of traditionally underserved populations by centering family and cultural voice throughout the implementation process.
The FPG Autism Team will develop five AFIRM modules based on new evidence-based practices identified by the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence & Practice review of the literature.
This study will iteratively develop and test an adapted professional development model to be used with the Advancing Social-communication And Play intervention.
The National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice (NCAEP) is conducting a systematic review of the current intervention literature targeting individuals on the autism spectrum. NCAEP is a continuation of the evidence review that was completed by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate two group-based treatments: (1) the Program for Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), which targets social skills, and (2) Unstuck and On Target (UOT), which targets executive function skills. The interventions are two 45-minute sessions per week across 16 weeks and will be implemented by school-based staff in middle schools in North Carolina and Southern California (San Diego area).
The goal of this project is to validate the Early Communication Indicator for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ECI-ASD) using a robust and representative multi-site sample of well-characterized children with autism spectrum disorder to determine the psychometric features of this instrument and its ability to detect change over time.