Transdisciplinary Approaches to Autism Spectrum Disorders (TAASD)
Twelve traineeships are available for 2011-13: six in school psychology and six in speech-language pathology. Traineeships require a commitment of two years of specialty study concurrent with and in addition to the graduate-credential programs in Speech-Language Pathology or School Psychology at SDSU. Priority is given to applicants bringing experience with ASD and/or culturally-linguistically diverse students in schools.
Speech-language pathology trainees must be students in good standing in SDSU’s Speech-Language Pathology Master’s Program and seeking California’s credential in clinical-rehabilitative services for practice in the public schools. This program is an intensive 2-year, year-round program of studies.
School psychology trainees must be students in good standing in SDSU’s School Psychology Program, a 4-year full-time sequence of studies culminating in the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree and California credential as a school psychologist. TAASD traineeships are open to school psychology students in their first or second years of study (and, on special arrangement, open to third year students).
Financial Support Package
The Financial Support Package provides Startup Stipends of $8,200 to support the costs of student fees and related school attendance expenses during the academic year and summer, since all the trainees are required to take courses and clinics each semester. In addition, students also receive a monthly stipend of $475 during the academic year and summer. The project has been designed to support 12 trainees each year (6 students of speech-language pathology, 6 of school psychology) with stipends of $475/month for the academic year and summer.
The project purchases specialty books and materials for trainees, and covers the expense of conference travel. Potential trainees must be aware that this support is intended specifically for practitioners who will serve children with disabilities in the public schools following completion of their training programs. The U.S. Department of Education requires that two years of such service be given for each year of traineeship awarded.
TAASD Activities and Obligations
The organization and content of the curriculum is based on identified needs and competencies to be developed and evaluated. The project provides a variety of learning opportunities in support of competency development and interdisciplinary collaboration over a two-year sequence of studies including:
- knowledge and skills necessary to assist children in achieving state learning standards(CSP 644 and CSP 610D; or SLHS 614)
- universal design principles for learning (SLHS 933 or CSP 610D)
Also, in Year 2 of the Project, students will be working with targeted children with ASD to help them achieve curriculum goals applying universal design principles for instruction and assistive technology. Each program’s sequence of requirements includes courses with a CLD component as well as specialized courses for serving English learners (e.g., SLHS 673, 794), and for using augmentative technology (e.g., SLHS 675).
The Autism Seminar (weekly – Friday afternoons) targets specific competencies in each of 4 semesters with a focus on transdisciplinary assessment/intervention for different types of ASD, including Asperger’s. We rely on the quality of our faculty and school-based specialists to implement these activities successfully:
- Natacha Akshoomoff, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor, at the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She is Principal Investigator (PI) of the NIMH-funded grant on Evaluation of Diagnostic and Services Practices in Autism and Co-PI on two NIH-funded grants on functional neuroimaging in autism.
- Katina Lambros, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology Program and a research scientist on a federally-funded NIMH research grant, Cognitive Consensus in Cross-Cultural Competence, focused on how interventionists, adolescents, and their parents decide what is important to address during school-based treatment sessions and how cultural beliefs and identity inform this process.
Parents are invited to participate and to share their experiences in parent panel presentations. Trainees collaborate with faculty to structure the seminar, and are responsible for their own learning and for contributing to the learning of their cohort. The Seminar incorporates models of collegial support, peer collaboration, and professional inquiry.
Institutes are offered at the beginning of each semester to provide more intensive instruction & skill building. The four Institutes are open to SDSU students and faculty. Invitations are sent to all program stakeholders to promote collaboration with partners.
The Autism Fieldwork Sequence (one morning a week, each semester) provides a strong context-based understanding of the needs of diverse children with ASD and the various services to meet their needs, one day a week.
- Semester 1: Transdisciplinary teams (one trainee from speech-language pathology, one from school psychology) rotate across community and school settings (Sensory Behavioral Intensive, Non-SBI) serving diverse children with ASD to gain familiarity with the range and types of services for children with ASD and their families.
- Semester 2: Each team shadows an autism specialist from the San Diego City Schools Resources for Students with Autism as featured in CASP Today. Trainees become familiar with this transdisciplinary model of service delivery, organization of services in a large school district, and collaborative-consultative services provided by specialists across the schools, teachers, students and families that they serve.
- Year 2 (two semesters): Transdisciplinary teams are assigned to collaborating teachers who have culturally-linguistically diverse children with ASD in their classroom and who have a model parent involvement/collaboration. In collaboration with the teacher, and under the supervision of the autism specialists, the team plans specific activities that address the language and behavioral needs of targeted children. The transdisciplinary approach links special education and related services to the general education curriculum.
Conference Participation. Trainee participation in autism conferences such as the annual National Autism Association Conference enhances their understanding of ASD and their professional roles in the specialty area. Participation in conferences further expands their transdisciplinary experiences. Trainees will participate in at least one conference a year.
Project Evaluation. Participants formally evaluate activities each semester and provide continuous feedback in biweekly project meetings (scheduled with the seminars.
The TAASD Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, #H32K100321.