The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) has been awarded a $1.18 million grant for researchers to train teachers in methods for addressing autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
The five-year grant comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, and the project—“Voyages: From Natural Environments to Inclusive Preschools: Transforming Educational Outcomes for Young Children with Disabilities”—will be led by Jay Shotel, chair of GSEHD’s Department of Special Education and Disability Studies.
One in 88 children are affected by ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so special education for those affected by the disorder is vital.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this project, especially at this critical juncture when more answers regarding autism spectrum disorders are needed,” said Michael J. Feuer, dean of GSEHD. “This project represents one way in which we integrate neuroscience into our graduate level teaching and research, enhancing the experience and opportunity for our students.”
The Voyages project will work to improve the number and quality of childhood special education teachers serving children across all disabilities. The project will provide training in interventions and services that address individual needs, from infancy through the primary grades, in areas such as communication, social skills, learning and behavior.
GW will train 44 personnel with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based educational services for children ages three to eight years with disabilities within local education agencies and programs serving high-need, urban communities.
“This project gives us the opportunity for our faculty and graduate students to apply what we know and what we are learning every day about how to better serve young children with ASD and neurodevelopmental disorders in natural settings,” said Dr. Shotel, professor of special education and disability studies. “It also allows us to provide support to experienced teachers who now are facing the explosion of young children with these patterns in inclusive classroom settings.”