centers to increase the supply of qualified persons. Increasingly, the demand for these programs has come from local communities and parent and other advocacy organizations. While the National Institutes of Health have supported a variety of research projects related to both children and adults with autism, the major federal agency for personnel preparation has been the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. In 1999, the agency supported personnel preparation programs in eight universities that were preparing master’s degree personnel in special education and in speech-language pathology with an emphasis on autism. Other OSEP funds went to technical assistance operations at the state and local levels. The agency also funds a major technical assistance program, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System, which has produced a series of widely distributed publications, such as an annotated bibliography on autistic spectrum disorders, a list of national contacts and other references on autism in early childhood, and a list of OSEP-funded early childhood projects and materials on autistic spectrum disorders. This last publication reports on a variety of print products, such as a social skills training program for the classroom, parent training modules, and suggestions for developing individualized supports for young children with autism and their families.
OSEP provides support for various demonstration projects designed to illustrate best practices in the area of autism, including Alaska’s autism intensive early intervention project at The University of Alaska at Anchorage, a model for early treatment of toddlers at Emory University, and a school-based preschool program for children with autism at University of Washington. In addition, a major effort to replicate the Lovaas (1987) intervention program includes 13 centers in the United States and 4 in foreign countries; the United States sites are funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Outreach projects are designed to disseminate proven practices and to encourage their replication beyond the original program. An example of such outreach is a project at the University of South Florida, Delivering Individualized Support for Young Children with Autism, which assists state systems in implementing a program of comprehensive and effective support for young children with autism and their families.
The Council for Exceptional Children (2000) has been a leader in the development of standards for many different fields of special education. The council currently does not differentiate specific standards for educating children with autism; it combines standards for the category of autism with those for children with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. The council is considering developing a separate certificate for special areas such as autism to recognize teachers who have participated in specific personnel preparation within this field.
The developers of educational strategies for children with autistic