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A sustainable model for training teachers to use pivotal response training


The increase in the rate of autism diagnoses has created a growing demand for teachers who are trained to use effective interventions. Research supports behavioral interventions as effective methods for teaching children with autism, however dissemination of these methods has been problematic. Ineffective training and lack of ongoing support after formal training ends may be to blame. The train-the-trainer (TTT) model, which involves training supervisors to train others, may be ideal for providing cost-effective training and ongoing support to teachers. This study assessed the benefits of using the TTT model to disseminate Pivotal Response Training (PRT), an evidence- based practice for educating children with autism, to school settings. A multiple baseline design was conducted across three training groups, each consisting of one school staff member (trainer), three special education teachers, and six students. During baseline, each trainer observed interactions between teacher/student dyads and provided feedback to the teachers. During treatment, trainers learned to implement and assess PRT themselves and educated teachers on PRT during a workshop. After the teacher-training workshop, trainers continued to observe interactions between teacher/student dyads and provide feedback to teachers during weekly classroom observations. A follow-up assessment was conducted three months after training was complete. Assessments included trainer and teacher ability to implement PRT, trainer ability to assess PRT and provide feedback, and student language and behavioral changes. All trainers conducted the teacher- training workshop with high adherence to training protocol and met mastery criteria in their ability to implement PRT, assess implementation of PRT, and provide feedback to teachers. Both trainers' assessment of PRT and feedback to teachers were more variable during post-workshop classroom observations. Six of the nine teachers mastered all components of PRT. The remaining three teachers implemented 89% of the PRT components correctly. The majority of trainers and teachers maintained their abilities at follow-up. Students demonstrated limited behavioral change, although this was not unexpected as the intervention was minimal and exposure to other interventions was not controlled for as part of the study. These results provide support for the use of the TTT model as an effective method of disseminating evidence-based practices in school settings

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