Students with autism have the best chances of success in school through an individualized education model that involves teachers, service providers and parents, according to a new book co-authored by John McGrew, Ph.D., and a psychology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
McGrew, who also serves as the director of the Clinical Psychology Program in Department of Psychology, is one of three researchers involved in the book, "Collaborative Model for Promoting Competence and Success for Students with ASD,"(autism spectrum disorder). Co-authors include Lisa A. Ruble and Nancy J. Dalrymple.
The book outlines the COMPASS program, a training and consulting model for teachers, caregivers and parents of children with autism. In it, the authors emphasize an individualized assessment for each student's needs based on his/her life experiences and family and teacher input. The book includes standard protocols, scripts, forms and case examples on which caregivers can base their program.
Trained consultants at each school will be able to direct the diverse team of influencers and caregivers to optimize the chances of success for children with autism, he said.
"This model provides a system to help people think through how to approach each student individually and base treatment and education decisions on what is best for these kids," said McGrew, who has a 20-year-old son with autism.
"The idea is to help teachers and families make decisions that are critical to helping these students advance in life," he added.
COMPASS is the first consulting framework to be validated by using controlled experiments and objective, trained evaluators of students with ASD, McGrew said. Many schools place students with ASD into special education classrooms, but the COMPASS model attempts to balance the strengths and weakness of a student and measure each level of success individually.
The book uses research and field testing completed during the past 20 years to form the model. Many past education models were not validated through comparable research, he added.
"The truth is a lot of these kids can go way beyond what is expected of them while others will need around-the-clock care. Each child with autism is different, and this model takes that variability into account," McGrew said.