Parents and educators can access free, online training to support the executive functioning skills of elementary school students with autism or ADHD, under a $2 million contract that will allow Children's Hospital Colorado to make the training widely available.
According to Children's Hospital Colorado, it teamed with Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., and The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland to pilot the online training and tele-support system for Unstuck and On Target. The program is an established in-person curriculum aimed at improving executive functioning skills such as flexible thinking, emotion regulation, planning and organization.
The pilot for the online training videos began in 2020 and included 293 school-based staff at 230 elementary schools in Colorado and Virginia.
"Through our initial research, we saw that the classroom behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder improved markedly with a teacher's implementation of Unstuck and On Target groups," said Laura Anthony, Children’s Colorado psychologist, professor of psychology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and lead researcher, in a statement.
The resources include a manual of 21 small group lessons, online training modules that allow teachers to earn continuing education credits, and short videos of executive functioning tips that parents can use with their children at home.
Funding for the program came from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which had researched the effectiveness of Unstuck and On Target. That study included 148 students in grades 3-5 at 24 schools with limited resources in Washington, DC, and northern Virginia.
Results from that study showed classroom behavior improved both for students who were in the Unstuck and On Target program and those who received usual support where they practiced flexible behaviors in class but didn’t actively learn about them, according to the study.
For students with ADHD symptoms, both Unstuck and On Target and usual support improved students’ classroom behaviors. When only looking at students with autism spectrum disorder symptoms, Unstuck and On Target improved behaviors but usual support didn’t.