Early Intervention Providers in the Field: Barriers and Incentives to Professional Development and Coaching in Evidence-Based Practices for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thursday, May 12, 2016: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
E. Chapman1, N. D. Bond1, S. K. Fuhrmeister1, J. L. Stapel-Wax2, T. Ryan3, S. E. Gillespie4, M. Costo1 and K. Terry1, (1)Marcus Autism Center, Atlanta, GA, (2)Emory University School of Medicine, Atl, GA, (3)Marcus Autism Center, Duluth, GA, (4)Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
Background: Minimal information is known about factors that influence early intervention providers’ participation in professional development. Exploring these factors can help predict participation in adult learning activities that are designed to promote the utilization and implementation of evidence-based practices for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Evidence-based early intervention plays a vital role in helping children at risk for developing ASD obtain their fullest developmental potential. Professional development that includes coaching is linked to immediate skill development and an increased chance that newly learned skills are sustained over time in the real-world setting (Rusby et al. 2013).

Objectives: This project aimed to explore barriers and incentives that might influence Early Intervention Providers’ participation in a 30-hour online course on evidence-based practices for infants and toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or 12 months of coaching on evidence-based practices for ASD in a hybrid format which includes both face-to-face coaching and virtual coaching. Factors examined in this exploratory study include demographic variables, education level and interpersonal factors such as family obligations and lack of time.

Methods: This study examined barriers and incentives to participation in both the online training modules and coaching for 45 early intervention providers across the state of Georgia who voluntarily participated in an Early Intervention Providers Needs Assessment Survey. This was a convenience sample. The survey utilized consisted of 9 questions, which were a combination of multiple choice/multiple answers. Participants were also given the opportunity to provide text responses to reflect barriers and incentives that were not listed.

Results: Statistical results of the survey indicate that lack of time and work obligations are often the greatest barriers to participation in both the online training modules and coaching for this population. Being able to earn CEUs and financial incentives were the best motivators for participating in both forms of professional development (online training and coaching). Only 1/5 (20%) of the providers surveyed had completed all four modules of the online training. However, 2/3 (66.7%) of the participants indicated that they had the desire to be coached on evidence-based practices for infants and toddlers with ASD.

Conclusions: These findings offer a preliminary look at the unique factors influencing early intervention providers’ participation in professional development related to evidence-based practices for infants and toddlers with ASD. Results from this study can lead to further research on professional development and training tailored to fit the needs of this population.