A Manualized Program to Support Transitions within Classroom Routines for Students with ASD: Child and Teacher Outcomes
Objectives: This project aimed to develop and evaluate the Schedules, Tools, and Activities for Transitions (STAT) program, a short-term, manualized package intervention of behavioral supports relevant to facilitating successful transitions within the daily routine for students with ASD (K-5) in self-contained educational settings.
Methods: Across three sites (UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester), a cluster-randomized group comparison design with matched pairs was used to assign self-contained classrooms to treatment (STAT program) or waitlist control. STAT involved a 12-16 session, collaborative, coaching model between research staff and school staff that encouraged educators to use 9 steps to facilitate successful classroom transitions, thereby resulting in a teacher-mediated intervention program. Intervention components included antecedent-based strategies (e.g., warnings, visual supports), teaching strategies (e.g., prompt hierarchies), and reinforcement. Student outcomes included academic engagement, independence (ABAS self-direction domain) and problem behavior (School Situations Questionnaire) during school routines, and teacher-nominated target problems. Teacher outcomes included fidelity and generalization. Data on intervention implementation and buy-in were also collected.
Results: n total, 153 students and 76 educators participated. No group differences were noted for academic engagement, as baseline academic engagement was quite high (.80%) at baseline across sites. For teacher-nominated target problems, STAT showed a significant positive effect over waitlist, with a larger proportion of classrooms indicating improvements in the identified behaviors (χ2=13.996, p=0.003). Positive effects of the STAT program were also found on the SSQ (SSQ; Mcontrol = .67; Mtreatment = .72), but not on the ABAS (ABAS; Mcontrol = 4.51; Mtreatment = 4.32).
Conclusions: The use of a teacher-mediated, behavioral intervention program was successfully implemented in self-contained classrooms across three under-resourced school districts. The results preliminarily suggest the utility of implementing a behavioral intervention package that can be beneficial for aspects of student behavior, feasible for educators to implement with high fidelity, and perceived as sustainable in real-world settings.