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Project A+ (Autism + Mathematics = Communication)

Grant Winners

  • Melissa Hale, Ph.D. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Hui Fang Huang Su, Ed.D. – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education
  • Wendi Masi, Ph.D. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Susan Kabot, M.Ed. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Leanne Lai, Ph.D. – College of Pharmacy
  • Edward Packer, D.O. – College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Michelle Kaplan, M.A. – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Carol Niman Reed, Ed.D. – College of Health Care Sciences


  • Wendy Masi – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • H. Wells Singleton – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education
  • Anthony Silvagni – College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Richard Davis – College of Health Care Sciences
  • Andrés Malavé – College of Pharmacy


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. During the course of the project, students with autism and several of their integrated, typically developing peers, will receive 3 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. 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 preliminary pilot project aimed at beginning a collaborative research relationship between faculty from four colleges within Nova Southeastern University. In addition, information gained from this project will be assembled and disseminated with the ultimate goal of generating additional external funding.

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