The Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (CSESA) is a multi-site research and development center that will: (1) develop a school- and community-based comprehensive treatment model (CTM) for high school students with ASD and (2) conduct an efficacy study of the impact of the CTM on multiple student outcomes and transition to post-school settings. The conceptual framework for the CSESA model is based on ecological systems theory, applied behavior analysis, and implementation science. The foundation for the CSESA model will be based on the system of evidence-based practice implementation and quality improvement established by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Four features of this model to be elaborated for high school students with ASD are: Academic Performance, Social Competence and Peer Relations, Adaptive Behavior (Positive Behavior Support), and Transition and Family.
The CSESA project will consist of two phases: a development phase (Years 1-2) and an efficacy phase (Years 3-5). In the development phase, CSESA teams will adapt existing instructional strategies, interventions, curricula, and procedures in the specific component areas for use with adolescents with ASD. By the end of this phase, each component will be manualized and integrated into the central CSESA model. Also a plan for assessing implementation and professional development to promote implementation will have been established. In the efficacy phase, high schools will be randomly assigned to a CSESA or a Business as Usual (BAU) condition; implementation will be assessed in both CSESA and BAU conditions; and student performance will be analyzed. The high schools, students, and families will participate in the study for two years with one year of follow up (for one cohort). In addition to this program of research, investigators will conduct supplemental studies that address important questions related to secondary education of students with ASD (to be determined in collaboration with the funding agency). CSESA will also provide national leadership through national summits, papers, journal publications and special issues, conference presentations, an interactive website, and other activities to be determined in collaboration with the funding agency.
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