International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): HANDS in Autism: A Collaborative Community Classroom

HANDS in Autism: A Collaborative Community Classroom

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
P. Korzekwa , Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
N. B. Swiezy , Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
M. L. Stuart , Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
Background: The framework of the HANDS in Autism model developed as an intensive, hands-on training blending ABA principles and evidence-based practices.  As an extension to the model, a collaborative classroom was developed to bridge clinical, home, and educational settings, and to demonstrate the use of evidence-based methodologies.  The development of a collaborative classroom includes three phases: 1) assessing the classroom’s strengths and needs; 2) training the classroom staff on methodologies individualized to the classroom; and 3) fading of training staff with an assessment of the classroom staff’s ability to self-sustain.  The process takes approximately two academic years.  The current study is in phase 2.

Objectives: The goal was to collaborate by working within an existing classroom to develop a model site utilizing evidence-based practices.

Methods: Effectiveness was assessed through improvement in student behavior, and increased classroom staff fidelity to methodologies.  Students were observed for rates of behavior, functional communication, and task independence.  Classroom staff were observed in their contingent response to behaviors and positive interactions with students.

Results: Three students and 5 classroom staff participated in phase 1 and 2.  Overall, staff showed an improvement in contingent response to behavior (M: 14.6% in phase 1 to 9.8% in phase 2).  Staff also improved in their use of appropriate positive attention (M: 0.06 attention/minute in phase 1 to 0.07 attention/minute in phase 2).  The most striking improvement was in the students’ use of functional communication (M: 0.03 communications/minute in phase 1 to 0.25 communications/minute in phase 2).  Data are currently being collected regarding rates of behavior and task independence. However, the general trend indicates a decrease in frequency of behaviors and an increase in percent of tasks performed independently.

Conclusions:   Thus far, the HANDS in Autism collaborative classroom has demonstrated efficacy for both students and classroom staff.

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