Eleventh Annual Grant Winners 2010-2011
Title: Effectiveness of Faculty Autism Awareness Training in Higher Education
Roni Leiderman Ph.D. (MSI)
Faculty and Students:
Christine Reeve, PhD (MSI)
Judith Parker, OTD (HPD-ALL)
Heidi Colston, BA (SAF)
Carina Massa, BA (CPS)
The proposed study is designed to evaluate the provision of a specialized training program for awareness of high functional autism (HFA) to faculty of undergraduate and graduate programs at Nova Southeastern University. The program was developed to assess training strategies for faculty prior to the university beginning an on-campus support program for individuals with HFA and to contribute to the educational literature regarding effective methods to support individuals with HFA in college programs. Individuals with HFA are increasingly attending 4-year colleges and require different types of support and accommodations than other disabilities. In addition, their high levels of intelligence and focus on academic topics in conversation make it difficult for faculty members to understand the significant difficulties they have with social and communication situations. This apparent contradiction often leads individuals who are unfamiliar with HFA to think the individual with HFA should “know better” when it comes to social and communication situations. Individuals with HFA will benefit from accommodations and strategies within the classroom to prevent their disability from becoming an obstacle from completing coursework in which they clearly have the intelligence to excel. Faculty will benefit from understanding of the disorder and by being able to comfortably address its impact in their classroom.
This project will provide training on the characteristics of HFA as they may be observed in the higher education classroom and provide strategies to accommodate and decrease their impact on the individual's performance and the class experience. At least 50 faculty will participate in the training and their awareness of HFA will be assessed before and after the training, as well as after the completion of the semester, to determine possible applications in their classrooms of the information from the sessions.