Evaluation of a 5 Day Autism Training Model in India

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
2:00 PM
C. Flint1, K. Hench1, K. Johnsen2 and J. Salt2, (1)Aaction Autism, Park Ridge, IL, (2)HAVE Dreams, Park Ridge, IL
Background: Throughout India, Autism is a little understood phenomenon.  People with autism are routinely regarded as ‘mentally subnormal’ or mentally ill.   However, more parents and professionals are becoming familiar with the unique characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders.  As part of that movement, Aaction Autism, a U.S. based non-profit organization dedicated to worldwide awareness through training, partnered with Action for Autism and Open Door school in New Dehli, to provide a 5 day intensive training based on structured teaching principles.  Structured teaching is a specific instructional strategy designed to accommodate the characteristic strengths and neuropsychological differences of those with autism.  Our week long, interactive training provides an opportunity to receive in-vivo supervision and feedback from experienced trainers.  Through lectures, hands-on construction of visual supports and materials, participants create a classroom and work with children with ASD based on the pyramid model of physical structure, individual schedules, independent work systems, routines and strategies, and visual organization.  The U.S. model for the training program has been evaluated and proven to be successful (Imfar, 2009; BPS 2010).  However, the implementation of the training model in India is unknown, due to more limited resources, potential language barriers and different expectations by parents and teachers of individuals with autism. 

Objectives: This study investigated the preliminary effectiveness of the training model for instructing parents and teachers to set up structured teaching programs in India.  The study addressed (i) knowledge of structured teaching gained across the 5 day training period and (ii) the satisfaction with the training model.

Methods: Participating teachers and parents (n= 26) who attended the hands on 5 day training workshop completed a structured questionnaire pre and post training.  The questionnaire was developed and piloted by the lead trainers to assess key aspects of structured teaching practice and principles.  The final questionnaire had 10 questions, with a maximum total score of 40.  The questionnaire was piloted on several India residents for ease of readability and cultural sensitivity.

Results: i) T-test revealed that there was a significant ( p<.05) increase in knowledge of structured teaching scores pre and post training.   (ii) Satisfaction with the training model was very high.  Using a 5 point Likert scale,  85% (n=22) rated the training at its highest point ‘excellent’ with the other 15% (n=4) rating the training at point 4 “good”.  100% (n=26) of responders felt more prepared to address the needs of individuals with ASD having attended the training.

Conclusions: The 5 day autism training program was successfully translated to the Indian subcontinent.  Participants significantly increased their knowledge of structured teaching practices by attending our training.  Both parents and teachers satisfaction with the training was very high.  These results indicate the preliminary effectiveness of our training program.  A more rigorous methodology is needed to extend confidence in these evaluation results.

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