CDHD to Partner With National Professional Development Center on Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, September 9 2010

Written by Amanda Cairo

MOSCOW, Idaho – One-size fits all education rarely works, especially when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Now the University of Idaho Center on Disabilities and Human Development (CDHD), a center within the College of Education, has been awarded a partnership grant to increase the number of highly qualified personnel serving children and youth with ASD.

“Educators can get frustrated when they have children in their classroom with very unusual patterns of learning,” said Mary Bostick, CDHD education program director. “What we can offer educators is a way to help those students with identified best practices.”

To meet that need and create the best possible classroom serving traditional and ASD students, the university has received a grant from the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The partnership will support the use of evidence-based practices (EBP) in professional development for individuals with ASD in Idaho and to develop a system to sustain both professional development and implementation of EBP over time. ASD covers Autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

With the grant, Bostick said the center can provide current and future educators with the tools to reach students with ASD in all school settings, including a regular classroom. Bostick said a frustrating aspect of ASD is that students have their own unique way of learning.

“Each child is different, and each shows the characteristics of ASD in different ways,” said Bostick.

The project will primarily work with school districts around the state through training and technical assistance. The center will partner with the College of Education to create webinars for school district personnel to participate in and learn about evidence-based training to help in their school’s classrooms, and to provide a basic course, which will be offered through the Blackboard Learning System. All users will receive University of Idaho credit for the training.

The CDHD chose to apply for this grant because there is evidence of rapidly increasing numbers of children identified as having ASD. Prevalence rates for ASD in the general population have increased from about 2 per 10,000 in the 1980s to current estimates by the Centers for Disease Control are about 1 in 110, or around 1 percent. In 1991, the public schools served 5,415 children with ASD ages 6-22. In 2008, the schools served 337,823 children with ASD ages 3-22. Although there are a variety of reasons accounting for these increases, it is clear that there is a need for professional development related to ASD.

The Autism Support Project activities will extend through 2012.

Idaho was one of three states (Idaho, Rhode Island and Vermont) chosen to receive the grant award. For more information on the partnership grant, contact Mary Bostick, project director at (208) 885-6141, or Barbara Broyles, project coordinator at (208) 885-6143,
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit