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Autism Expert Creates Innovative Intervention Program

Autism is the fastest growing disability in the United States, and public school systems are trying to catch up. One out// of every 166 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

The Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training (ASSERT) program at Utah State University is a state-of-the-art preschool program that uses research-based techniques to address the individual needs of autistic children. USU’s pioneer site has opened the doors to a new world for children with autism and is a model training classroom for professionals in the Intermountain region.

Early intervention is key to helping children with autism, and the ASSERT program at Utah State serves as the training grounds for the educators who will make a difference in classrooms. The program offers children a chance to receive help at a young age.

Thomas Higbee, director of USU’s Autism Support Services, spent more than 10 years researching and developing cutting-edge ideas that sparked the birth of the ASSERT program. Research has shown that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) do not learn readily in typical environments, so Higbee fashioned an atmosphere ideally constructed for ASD treatment.

ASSERT provides consultation services and curriculum to school districts. Higbee and his graduate students frequently visit sites in school districts to provide in-depth training and ensure that students are getting the best instruction possible.

“The hard work has really paid off and we have seen dramatic positive changes in our students,” said Higbee.

This individualized educational program has been improving the lives of children with ASD since 2003. What started as a 10-week summer course has become a highly-successful year-round preschool program that continues to revolutionize the way children with autism are educated.

This innovative program
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