One way that ASERT is working to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians with autism is by providing education and training to professionals, family members, individuals with autism, and members of the community who may have interaction with people who have autism. The projects below describe ASERT projects for a variety of audiences.
Evaluating and Implementing Employment and College Preparation Programs for Adults Living with ASD
ASERT has created a catalog of existing programs in PA and models of excellence nationwide have been identified and included in a report about current programs. The future goal of the employment program is to build a collaborative network of Customized Employment providers and trainers to obtain feedback and evaluation of the training model and provide networking opportunities. ASERT hopes to expand this Customized Employment training to employers across the state.
The ASERT Eastern Region hosted a statewide conference of colleges, universities, technical schools, culinary schools, and community colleges in May 2012. This event provided a forum for institutions to think about not only the supports needed by students with ASD, but how they could better cater to this growing population. The conference left attendees with ideas on how to approach administrators about supporting their own program and how to engage these students within the larger student population. ASERT will encourage conference attendees and other institutions to network and continue sharing ideas about best ways to support students with ASD through the ASERT website.
Psychopharmacology Guidelines Group
Eastern Region ASERT led a project to produce a guiding document for practitioners working with adolescents and adults with ASD around treatment using various psychotropic medications, the Pennsylvania Psychopharmacology Guidelines Workgroup Report. A workgroup of professionals experienced in working with this population from a variety of clinical disciplines was convened to compile the results of the workgroup into a synthesized document. The goal of this guiding document is to provide a resource to practitioners treating individuals with autism with medications, from general practice to in-patient settings and hospitals.
Education of Emergency and Pre-Hospital Responders on the Care of Patients with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
The emphasis of this ASERT project is to provide First Responders and emergency room personnel (doctors, nurses) and pre-hospital responders (emergency medical technicians) with training on the unique characteristics and needs of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The goal is to help emergency personnel better understand the relationship between an increased state of anxiety or stress and the characteristics of ASD and how this understanding can enhance the successful delivery of service by emergency and pre-hospital responders and avoid disastrous escalation and reduce unwanted outcomes in crisis situations. As part of the project, ASERT is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services to develop a training video and manual for emergency room personnel.
Behavior Specialist Licensure Trainings
Recently ASERT created and provided video based trainings that meet specific need areas for behavior specialists to be licensed under Act 62, a law that requires specialized training for individuals who provide behavior specialist services. These trainings completed the catalog of required areas on the Bureau of Autism Services Virtual Training Center. The goal for the upcoming months is to continue to add to this training catalog so that opportunities for training are continually updated and available to behavior specialists applying for Behavior Specialist Licensure. The Behavior Specialist Licensure Trainings will also be provided via video conferencing and face-to-face workshops across the state.
Juvenile Justice Deterrent Training Program for ASD
Due to the unique social and communication challenges, individuals with autism might also be at risk of committing socially inappropriate actions that reach the level of illegal, offending behaviors. For example, the social deficits associated with autism may impact psychosexual development to a degree where inappropriate pursuits, interests, or touching may result in an act that is unlawful. Communication deficits may also impact expressed anger to a degree where violent and aggressive behaviors rather than more appropriate verbal exchanges result. While the acts themselves may be unlawful, the intent driving the act may not be similar to antisocial attitudes commonly found in offender populations. The goal of this project is to design training and a manual including best practices for individuals with autism who have interaction with the legal system. The training is intended to target all members of the justice system to include attorneys, magistrates, judges, probation officers, etc.
Webinars will be provided across the state for training in co-morbid disorders in autism, adult autism diagnoses, early diagnosis and warning signs, and co-occurring medical conditions, in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh School of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.