Project A+: Autism + Mathematics = Communication: Year 2

Grant Winners

  • Melissa N. Hale, Ph.D. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Hui Fang Huang "Angie" Su, Ed.D. – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education
  • Wendy Masi, Ph.D. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Susan Kabot, Ed.D. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Michele Kaplan, M.A. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Leanne Lai, Ph.D. – College of Pharmacy

Deans

  • Wendy Masi – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • H. Wells Singleton – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education
  • Andres Malave – College of Pharmacy

Abstract

Award Winners

Autism is a complex, neurological disorder that affects as many as 1 in every 166 students. At present, there is no known cure for autism. However, most experts agree that early intervention plays an important role in positive prognosis. Despite the widespread adoption that early intervention is important, less information is available regarding the specific treatment strategies that should be incorporated into early intervention programs. With the advent of No Child Left Behind, there is an increasing need to identify educational strategies aimed at increasing academic functioning. The purpose of project A+ is to evaluate the effects of systematic instruction in mathematics on preschool-aged students with autism. This second year study will evaluate the effects of degree of autism symptom severity and social responsiveness on progress in mathematics. During the course of the project, students with autism and several of their integrated, typically developing peers, will receive 5 months of instruction in mathematics during their regular school day. Instruction will consist of both direct instruction and embedded instruction derived from the Project MIND curriculum (see appendix A). A control group will have no mathematics instruction incorporated into their classroom activities, other than what is part of the current curriculum. Comparisons of the groups' performance will reveal if students with autism show accelerated acquisition of mathematical skills following systematic instruction and the effects of autism symptomatology and social responsiveness on this performance. Comparing the rates of acquisition of math skills for students with autism to those without autism will reveal information about the specific learning abilities of students with autism. In addition to the valuable information gained from this study regarding autism, this study will serve as a continuing pilot project aimed at beginning a collaborative research relationship between faculty from three colleges within Nova Southeastern University.