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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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The latest research suggests about 1 in 68 children born in the U.S. will develop an autism spectrum disorder. The latest research suggests about 1 in 68 children born in the U.S. will develop an autism spectrum disorder.

Improving Autism Education

An SDSU education researcher received funding to improve strategies for teaching students with autism.
By Michael Price

San Diego State University education professor Jessica Suhrheinrich recently was named co-recipient of a three-year, $1.4 million grant that will be used to study ways to improve the implementation and effectiveness of evidence-based education strategies for students with autism spectrum disorder. The grant is from the Institute of Educational Sciences.

The latest research suggests about 1 in 68 children born in the United States will develop an autism spectrum disorder, which can interfere with their developing language, reading, academic and social skills. Researchers across the world are discovering, testing and refining new strategies to improve learning outcomes for children with autism, but vetting and implementing these programs remains a bottleneck to progress in many cases.

With this grant, Suhrheinrich, a co-principal investigator on the project, will work with colleagues at the University of California, Davis, Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MIND) Institute to examine the effectiveness of the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network (CAPTAIN), a statewide network for sharing experiences and ideas about evidence-based practices.

Additionally, the researchers will look at school, district and state policies for training teachers and staff on how to assess and implement evidence-based practices.

“We’re looking at factors that influence the effectiveness of a collaborative statewide network for sharing information about evidence-based practices,” Suhrheinrich said. “The idea would be, if this is effective, we can identify factors that are related to the success of individual regions, and then we could look towards replication in other states to support dissemination of information.”

The grant builds upon ongoing, grant-supported work by Suhrheinrich and her SDSU colleagues, Laura Hall and Bonnie Kraemer, looking into improving the educational experiences of students with autism spectrum disorder.

The work also complements SDSU’s expertise in using neuroimaging to tease out the subtle neural signatures of autism in the young brain, as well as tracking and developing therapies for people with autism across their lifespans. All of these efforts will be boosted next year with the opening of SDSU’s first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) lab in the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex, due to open in January.