Statistics show that autistic students are able to achieve classroom success if they are able to communicate effectively.
With that in mind, researchers at the University of Missouri are developing an effective social-competence curriculum with a virtual-classroom component that could help educators meet the needs of a growing autistic population.
Janine Stichter, a professor of special education at the MU College of Education, and a team of researchers have developed an after-school curriculum that has proven effective and is now being tested during daily school activities.
Children with autism have three core deficit areas: difficulty with communication, issues with repetitive behaviors and social competence.
“At MU, we’ve worked to develop intervention to meet specific needs, similar to a medical model for treating cancer,” Stichter said. “Doctors don’t use one treatment model for all forms of cancer, for example.”
The objective of the program is to tailor the learning process to achieve social competency. To that end, MU researchers have developed an internet-based, virtual learning environment open to all schools interested in the program.