The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) was awarded two grant contracts by Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) totaling $17 million. The grant contracts enable TRIAD to continue its 22-year partnership with TDOE by providing professional development and behavior intervention services across the state.
These grant contracts are focused in the priority areas of autism and behavior and related free and appropriate public education (FAPE). For both grant contracts, TRIAD will rely on innovative approaches to professional development and coaching, which will allow TRIAD’s teams to individualize approaches for capacity-building, growth in long-term outcomes, and allow TRIAD to build extensive collaborative networks of education and support across all of Tennessee.
The autism services will focus on providing technical assistance and professional development to educators, schools, and school districts specific to the unique needs of autistic students. Often these services will be delivered in cohort models allowing networked support from their education colleagues from across Tennessee, and most of the services are bolstered by real-time consultation and/or coaching, either in person or via telepractice.
“We are excited to be in a position to continue serving educators and school and district leaders in Tennessee. Our team are experts in autism, education, and capacity-building, which we know are high priorities for our state,” said Whitney Loring, Psy.D., director of Training with TRIAD. “Our remarkable team of pre-K teachers, special education teachers, general education teachers, speech-language pathologists, behavior analysts, experts in transition to adulthood, data analysts, and online education designers are some of the absolute best in the country. They will continue to meet these growing needs in education across Tennessee.”
The behavior and FAPE services will focus on the most intensive and complex student and educator needs in the state. School and district leaders working alongside the teachers and educational assistants who provide services directly to a student consult with and learn from TRIAD’s consultants. Together they assess and analyze the team’s concerns, select and implement evidence-based interventions, and support and monitor the skill acquisition of their students.
“The students we serve are under-engaged in school experiences, while often presenting with behavior that puts themselves or others in danger. These students and their school teams need integrated and multidisciplinary support, and team of consultants at TRIAD that includes top-notch SLPs, teachers, and behavior analysts,” said John Staubitz, M.Ed., BCBA, associate director of Behavior Analysis with TRIAD. “We’re proud to model and teach stakeholder-informed and evidence-based assessment and intervention practices for meeting student behavior needs. We are committed to providing individualized coaching and consultation to our school teams until they have the skills needed to help their students be happy, relaxed, and engaged in school.”
“TRIAD is committed to providing high-quality service delivery across all of Tennessee, with direct and focused attention on ensuring we reach rural, low resource, and underserved communities,” said TRIAD co-director Pablo Juárez, M.Ed., BCBA. “This has required us to develop a robust and responsive online education platform and telepractice service lines, which are woven into all of our programs. We’re honored and humbled to continue our work with the Tennessee Department of Education and to engage in truly exciting and innovative approaches to serve students with disabilities in our state.”
“It’s been incredible to watch TRIAD grow and evolve its services and supports over the years and to make such an extraordinary impact on Tennessee’s education communities,” said Jeffrey Neul, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. “The work TRIAD is doing to expand the area of telepractice and to connect learners from a distance continues to strengthen its impact and enables its services to reach into all corners of our state. TRIAD remains a leader in training and technical assistance in Tennessee and nationally. We are delighted to support efforts through our collective work at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.”
The TDOE has also awarded grant contracts to four other programs, which all partner with TRIAD in forming the Tennessee Technical Assistance Network (TN-TAN). These partners include Vanderbilt University’s Response to Intervention team (including collaboration from University of Tennessee-Knoxville and University of Memphis-Lambuth), Arlington, Virginia-based AnLar for early childhood inclusive supports, an evaluation team from University of Kansas and University of Kentucky, and a coordination team from UTK’s Center for Literacy, Education and Employment. Other key collaborators will include The Arc Tennessee, Transition Tennessee, and Tennessee Talks, among many others.
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