Early Intervention Professional Development: Evidenced-based practices and Program Quality
University of North Carolina
Promoting the Use of Evidence-based Practices for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their Families will expand on the work conducted by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPDC-ASD) for preschool through high school-aged students with ASD, funded by the Office of Special Education Programs. The Toddler Initiative will develop new materials and modify existing materials/ processes to support the use of evidence-based practices for young children (birth-3) and for their families, and is consistent with the philosophy of family-centered Part C services/supports. There are two components to this initiative: Year 1) development of early intervention materials and processes; and Year 2) field-testing the toddler model in a small number of early intervention programs. During the development phase (Year 1), staff will: 1) update an instructional module on early identification of ASD; 2) expand content, video examples, and resources on 10 modules of evidence-based practices shown to be efficacious for infants and toddlers with ASD and their families; 3) develop new family-friendly learning materials to support the use of these practices by family members; 4) finalize the development of the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale – Infant/Toddler; 5) develop procedures for selecting state sites for field testing the model, and 6) modify coaching process to make it appropriate for on-site and remote coaching of early intervention service providers. A small field test of the Toddler Initiative model will occur in Year 2. Staff will engage in the following Year-2 activities during the field-testing component (1) convene an interagency planning group to provide leadership for addressing needs of toddlers and their families in the state; (2) select three early intervention sites to field-test use of the materials and procedures and provide data for evaluation of the model; (3) provide professional development for technical assistance providers and site teams to enhance the quality of programs, use of evidence-based practices, and implementation of a coaching process; (4) provide ongoing technical assistance to the site teams; and (5) report toddler, family, provider, and program outcomes associated with implementation of The Toddler Initiative. This two-year initiative addresses Autism Speaks’ priority to disseminate scientifically-based interventions.