Autism Research Program Receives Nearly $1 Million
The Center on Disability and Development (CDD) was recently awarded two grants from the Division of Academic Quality and Workforce to fund research projects involving students with autism spectrum disorders. Special education professor Dr. Jennifer Ganz serves as the director for both projects.
In July, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board presented awards under the Autism Grant Program (AGP) in three grant categories: parent-directed treatment, board-certified behavior analyst training for teachers/paraprofessionals, and research, development, and evaluation of innovative autism treatment models. All three grant categories focus on expanding and improving the treatment of Texas children with autism spectrum disorder.
With support from the CDD, Ganz authored proposals in the parent-directed treatment and in the board-certified behavior analyst training categories. Two special education doctoral students assisted with these proposals, Kristi Morin, who wrote a significant portion of the Behavior-Analyst Training proposal, and Ching-Yi Liao, who assisted with a number of components of the proposals.
The coordinating board awarded $498,599 to the parent-directed treatment category. The center’s parent-directed treatment project will provide training and support to parents in the Brazos Valley and throughout the state, via group instruction and assessment and individualized training with parents and caregivers of children with autism. Parents will be instructed in how to improve the communication skills of their own children. It will also provide opportunities for graduate students in School Psychology and Special Education to hone their skills in working with this population, under close supervision.
The coordinating board also awarded $465,548 to the CDD’s board-certified behavior analyst training for teachers/paraprofessionals category. This project will provide training to direct service providers who work with people with autism throughout Texas, via distance technology. Some recipients of this training will receive support to complete fieldwork requirements to become Master’s level behavior analysts, who will be prepared to become leaders in their communities, while novice behavioral therapists will receive basic training to increase the numbers of direct service providers for this population.
The continued efforts by Ganz alongside Cheryl Allen, CEO of Easter Seals East Texas, resulted in the opening of the Autism Clinic at the Brazos Valley Rehabilitation Center, currently directed by Dr. Amy Heath, which provides for children and adults with autism and their families. More information can be found on its website.