PUBLISHED BY: IBCCES-CERTIFIED AUTISM SPECIALIST
According to the National Autism Center (National Standards Report, 2009), interventions using behavioral strategies have been shown to be an effective intervention for teaching students with autism. Over 90% of all effective treatments identified used behavioral methods.
As described in the National Standards Project, a comprehensive behavior program using applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been shown to be the most effective. Applied behavior analysis is the process of conducting a systematic assessment to identify baseline levels, implementing instruction using a behavioral approach (i.e. discrete trial training or pivotal response training), collecting on-going data to monitor progress and making changes to the intervention based on the data collected.
An effective evidence-based program will use ABA strategies to teach new skills in the areas of communication, social, adaptive, cognitive and academics (Lord and McGee, 2001). Autism Specialists need a program that uses research-based strategies and comprehensive curriculum content to provide effective instruction to their students. An effective program should provide the assessment, lesson plans, materials and on-going data collection system instructors will need to implement the program. A unique program that pulls it all together for staff is not easy to find. It is even harder to find a program that has met a research standard specifically for students with autism.
International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards has discovered an organization addressing all of these challenges. STAR® Autism Support is a leading provider of evidence-based curricula and professional development opportunities specifically designed for working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The STAR Program (Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research, Arick, Loos, Falco & Krug, 2004) specifically addresses the strategies identified by the National Standards Project as effective interventions. More importantly, the strategies are presented in a practical, consistent way allowing for fidelity of implementation and positive outcomes!
The STAR Program has also been the subject of several research studies. One of the studies is an outcome study funded by the Oregon Department of Education to monitor the progress of students with autism. The Autism Outcome Study enrolled over 122 children in public preschool and school-age programs over a five year period. These programs included rural, suburban and urban schools. The project staff provided training in the STAR Program and a separate team of researchers conducted assessments of the students to monitor their progress. The students made significant progress in all areas of instruction. In particular students made significant progress in the areas of expressive language, receptive language, social interaction skills, academics and independence on functional routines. (Arick, Young, Falco, Loos, Krug, Gense, & Johnson, 2003; Arick, Young, Falco, Loos and Krug, 2004).
STAR Autism Support has worked with organizations around the globe to assist them in implementing effective programs for students with autism. An administrator in Holland recently stated, “Using STAR Autism Support programs, our team, including the teaching staff, OT, PT and SLP, has found success in all areas of development with our most involved children to those who are ready for part-time integration.”
You can find STAR Autism Support at most major autism conferences across the country and on their website: www.starautismsupport.com.
National Autism Center (2009). The National Standards Report. Randolph, MA: National Autism Center
Lord and McGee (2001). Educating children with Autism: committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press
Arick, Young, Falco, Loos, Krug, Gense and Johnson (2003). Designing an Outcome Study to Monitor the Progress of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18(2), 75-87.
Arick, Young, Falco, Loos and Krug (2004). Oregon Autism Outcome Study: Final Report. Oregon Department of Education. Salem, OR.