The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training

Project Details

The national trend of an increase in the number of individuals identified as having autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is also occurring in rural Utah. Intensive treatment programs are limited, however, especially in the northern area of the state.

Project Focus & Services:
The Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training (ASSERT) Program is a collaborative effort of the Department of Special Education & Rehabilitation and the Center for Persons with Disabilities, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Utah State University.

ASSERT provides services to preschool children with autism and their families.

ASSERT has a three-fold mission:
1. Education: To provide effective educational and behavioral early intervention using research-based best practices.
2. Research: To conduct research to improve educational and behavioral interventions for children with autism.
3. Training: To serve as a model training classroom for USU pre-service special education teachers and to provide training opportunities for other educational professionals throughout the state of Utah who are interested in learning to work effectively with children diagnosed with ASD.

ASSERT's primary focus is to promote the development of critical communication and social skills so that children will succeed in inclusive school classrooms. Intervention procedures are evidence-based, derived from research in applied behavior analysis and incorporate validated curriculum materials.

FY 2015-16 Focus:
14 children with autism and their families currently participate in the program. These preschoolers also attend their district's preschool programs while attending ASSERT. Nine new students were admitted in the fall and will continue throughout the year.

This year, 15 USU graduate students and 50 undergraduates will learn through experience to implement services and conduct research on autism. Several studies to improve intervention techniques were published or accepted for publication this year and several others are currently in progress.

ASSERT currently has school district partnerships with Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as Nebo School District in Spanish Fork. They will be working with them over the next few years to build ASSERT model training classrooms in their districts. The on-campus classroom will remain the same