(Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism)
Core Function: Clinical Services, Research and Evaluation
The purpose of this model demonstration project is to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a program for young children with autism and their families that is effective and receptive to the consumer needs of families and school district personnel. The project emphasizes blending the strengths of different educational disciplines such as early childhood education, early childhood special education, and applied behavior analysis, to create a comprehensive program for young children with autism that is appropriate for their needs. To achieve this purpose, educational and support services are provided to infants, toddlers and preschool age children with autism at the Experimental Education Unit.
Preschool age children in Project DATA attend school-based programming for 20 hours a week and spend the majority of this time (12.5 hours) in integrated preschool classrooms. The rest of time (1.5 hours per day/7.5 hours per week) is spent in an extended day program for children with autism where children receive more intensive instruction. Instruction is delivered individually and in small groups, and instructional strategies include discrete trials, incidental teaching, and structured learning tasks. Staff members also provide social and technical support to the families of children in the program.
The four essential components in the infants and toddlers program are extended instructional time, technical and social support for families, collaboration and coordination across services, and transition support. Twelve children/families are served each year through direct services and the project serves many more children, families, and practitioners through the dissemination of results.
This project also has an active training and outreach component. University of Washington trainees from education, speech and hearing, social work, and psychology disciplines participate in the project as part of their training, and over 100 parents, educators, and researchers visit the program each year to learn about the model. Project DATA has also expanded to work within the Bellevue School District and Seattle Public Schools.