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Research Projects

Data from focus groups of special education teachers indicated that teachers utilize Pivotal Response Training (PRT) but modify it to meet the demands that classroom teachers face. The research team worked with a group of teachers to adapt PRT for the classroom. This study, therefore, involved testing the effectiveness of the classroom modification, Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching (CPRT) in over 100 classrooms in Southern California. 

BRIDGE: Research on Infant/Toddler Mental Health: Building a Community Partnership is a collaborative project consisting of community providers, parents, funding agencies and researchers working together to develop a community plan to assist children and families of children with disorders of relating and communicating from the earliest stages.

To improve the overall quality and success of mental health interventions, it is important to make sure community providers are able to effectively use empirically supported behavioral treatments (ESBTs), including Pivotal Response Training (PRT). These are treatments that have strong research support. Accurate assessment of fidelity of implementation (FI; or how accurately a person is using an intervention as it was intended) provides necessary information for training and making sure the intervention is working. To enhance the fidelity of implementation (FI) of Pivotal Response Training (PRT) in community settings, we are testing an adapted PRT FI instrument and training procedures. The FI instrument and procedures were specifically developed to be used by community providers and also include procedures for providing feedback within community settings. The FI tool underwent a series of reviews and was tested against the research instrument to make sure that the new measure is rigorous. In addition, the adapted FI tool was reviewed by various community providers to test the usability of its use in a community setting and ensure that the procedures are readily usable and applicable to a wide range of providers. The overall goal of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the new PRT FI instrument and supervision and training procedures. This project is funded through a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health through University of California, San Diego (R33MH097033).

LEAPS: Leadership for Evidence-based Autism Programs in Schools 
There is scientific support for the effectiveness of specific interventions for ASD, and information and training materials for these evidence-based practices (EBP) is publicly available.  However, although EBPs for educating children with ASD exist, current methods for selecting, implementing and sustaining these practices in community school settings are not effective. 
School staff need support and specific strategies for how to implement EBP to maximize the outcome of these programs for children with ASD.  This project aims to address that need by: 
  • Exploring current implementation practices used by school districts across the state of California
  • Adapting an implementation support strategy for school district use
  • Evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of this adapted implementation support strategy for school staff