Collaborative Adolescent Autism Teacher Training Project (CAATT)

students

The CAATT Project is a graduate degree program in special education that prepares highly trained educators to work with middle and high school aged students with autism. This program originated as an extension of the COPPA project that was a collaborative effort between several schools systems (Forsyth, Clarke, and Gwinnett) and the University of Georgia to prepare teachers to work with elementary school aged children with autism. Building upon the success of COPPA and recognizing the unique needs of adolescents with autism, we have formed partnerships with Gwinnett, Madison and Clarke County public schools to launch this program in Fall 2009.

Through these partnerships, graduate students interested in autism will engage in practicum experiences with educators, school psychologists, social workers and other service providers involved in the education of adolescents with autism. The project is committed to teaching our graduates evidence-based strategies to ensure they are fully prepared to meet the unique and varied challenges they will face when working with adolescents with autism. Therefore, within this context, CAATT’s three primary objectives are to prepare highly qualified public school personnel to 1) use evidence-based research practices when serving adolescents with autism; 2) provide consultative service, in-service training, and disseminate research–based practice information to individuals serving adolescents with autism; and 3) analyze, conduct and disseminate applied research concerning adolescents with autism or their families.

During each year of the program, funding is available to support 5 full time graduate students through fellowships and tuition stipends as well as 7 part–time graduate students who are currently teaching in the field and desire advanced training. Students supported by the project are required to sign a Promissory Service Agreement obligating them to continue teaching students with autism once they finish the program. Students are recruited from education, psychology, and related fields, who have an interest in and experience with children with ASD. Particular attention is given to recruiting individuals from under–represented groups, non–traditional students seeking a career change, and classroom paraprofessionals.

Students admitted to the program as either M.Ed. or Ed.S. students will focus their student on adolescents with “classic” autism who function in the moderate to profound range of intellectual disabilities. The program leads to advanced certification in “Special Education Adapted Curriculum”. In addition to five didactic courses in special education and ASD, students also will enroll in a minimum of two ASD internship courses, a minimum of two research courses, and complete an applied research project with adolescents with ASD or their families.

The course work that is a part of CAATT is open to all graduate students with an interest in autism and supporting adolescents with autism and their families. In addition, students from other universities can take CAATT coursework on a transient basis and by non–degree seeking students who have been admitted to UGA’s graduate school.

For more information about the CAATT Project and the ASD courses offered, contact Dr. Kevin Ayres, Principal Investigator and Co–Director at kayres@uga.edu.