IOTI - Para Training/Coaching to Improve Communication Skills

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Because paraprofessionals are assigned to work with children with multiple disabilities and severe communication challenges, it is critical they have the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate communication development and interactions with these children. Yet paraprofessionals have the least amount of training and experience in effective communication strategies and methods and limited opportunities to receive any kind of specialized training.

The ParaTACTICS project will offer online communication training to paraprofessionals employed by district preschool programs in Utah to increase their ability to work effectively with children with multiple disabilities (age 3-5) with whom they work. Training objectives include:
1) Implement a paraprofessional communication training program in the preschool programs;
2) Increase knowledge and skills of paraprofessionals in communication methods which include a) observing and identifying verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors of your children with multiple disabilities b) recognize and interpret the intents of those behaviors; c) respond appropriately to the communication of these children; and d) facilitate the expressive communication development of these children.
3) Provide opportunities for coaching by project staff to facilitate paraprofessional application of effective communication methods and strategies.
4) Evaluate the effectiveness of the communication training in improving paraprofessional interactions with young children with multiple disabilities and communication challenges.

Through the implementation of this project, paraprofessionals in preschool programs will increase their ability to work effectively with young children with multiple disabilities to 1) observe and identify verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors; recognize and interpret the intents of those behaviors; respond appropriately to the child; and 4) facilitate the child's expressive communication development. This will improve the quality of interactions between paraprofessionals and the children with whom they work, thus strengthening the services provided by preschool programs.