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University of Kansas Autism Coaching Program Expands Through Federal Grant

Although autism affects in 1 in 54 children in the United States, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, services can unfortunately be out of reach for many families. A University of Kansas program, known as the Online and Applied System for Intervention Skills (OASIS), recently received a $1 million federal grant to expand its services. According to a report from the University of Kansas website, the grant is being provided by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, and will fund a five-year project to train more coaches, who can train others to use the OASIS technique in turn. “The parent training program is great, but if the only place people or families can directly access services is here at the KU Medical Center, there's a bottleneck,” primary investigator Linda Heitzman-Powell, a KU research associate professor and director of community research at the KU Medical Center, was quoted as saying in the report. “Our last grant enabled us to develop a coach training protocol, and we now have certified OASIS coaches throughout Kansas.” 28 of the 40 coaches trained through Oasis previous funding are in Kansas, nine are in other states, and three are located in Poland and Turkey. The program’s clinicians work with children and families to improve social engagement, receptive communication, and following directions. The courses begin with online training modules and a review of recurring challenging behaviors. Through coaching sessions, families learn and develop new skills they can apply in every day life. Jay Buzhardt, a primary investigator and associate research professor at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, said the new funding is “providing the resources to be able to train these coaches and then develop the online infrastructure for them to be able to go in and set up their own training programs for agencies. Then they can manage that themselves rather than us having to manage it.” Buzhardt said OASIS goal is to “eventually have regional centers around the country that could then provide coaching to individual agencies, so that all the agencies would be able to train their providers. Ultimately we would like this to be a national resource for any agency that's providing direct services.”

The report highlighted Linzi Shriner, whose two-year-old daughter Baylee has benefited significantly from the OASIS program. “I would hope that any parent that has a child with autism would go through a program like this because it gives you control over your life,” Shriner said. “It teaches you what works, it teaches you how to approach your child, and it teaches you how to engage with them. And then once you have that engagement, the sky's the limit.” Source: http://today.ku.edu/2020/05/01/grant-expand-coaching-availability-serve-children-autism

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