The design of a training program for paraprofessionals working with students with autism in an urban school district

Amy M. Watkins
The number of paraprofessionals supporting the education of students with disabilities has increased significantly in recent years; concurrently, there has been an expansion of the paraprofessional's role in the instruction of students, particularly for students with low incidence disabilities such as autism. There has also been an increase in the number of students on the autism spectrum who are being educated in their local school districts. Students with autism have very challenging support
more » ... hallenging support needs and are most likely to require paraprofessional support so they may be properly educated. The increasing reliance on paraprofessionals in public education raises concerns regarding their training and preparation to perform the multitude of tasks that they might be assigned. Models of best practices for educating students with autism recommend training paraprofessionals to fulfill specific responsibilities they encounter as part of their roles working with these students. The purpose of this dissertation was to design a training program for paraprofessionals working with students with autism in an urban school district in New Jersey. A needs assessment was conducted through interviews and surveys in the district and the training program was developed based on those results. Data collected indicated that the program should be targeted to recently hired paraprofessionals new to the assignment of working with students on the autism spectrum. This cohort of paraprofessionals would benefit from training to enhance their knowledge and skills in working with students with autism. The program consisted of five training sessions that addressed the following topics: Overview of Autism and the Autism Program, Basic Behavioral Concepts and Assessment, Behavioral Procedures, Teaching Procedures and Data Recording. In addition, a performance feedback component was included in order to reinforce the paraprofessionals' knowledge and skill acquisition from the trainings. Detailed lesson plans were provided for each of the [...]
doi:10.7282/t3pv6n8n fatcat:zo4uw76imbgrtjwlencg6pxlwy