Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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ASD Training Initiatives



Targeting the Big Three - A Train-the Trainer Program to Benefit Parents, Caregivers and Staff 

In March 2010, OPWDD received a Family Services Community grant from Autism Speaks to develop and implement a train-the-trainer program across the state that would train parents in effective methods of responding to the challenging behaviors of their loved ones with autism. "Targeting the Big Three" now offers families and caregivers instruction, via a series of five or six weekly sessions, in techniques for improving behaviors related to challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injury, toileting and mealtime behaviors. The curricula are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis which has been extensively studied and found to be a safe and effective method for teaching new skills. 

Dr. Helen Yoo, of OPWDD's Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities developed the curricula and will evaluate the program to measure its effectiveness for the individuals receiving care. The program is geared toward addressing issues commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders, but is also helpful for caregivers or parents of individuals with other developmental disabilities.

 As part of the grant project, OPWDD is training a cadre of state and voluntary agency clinicians to deliver Targeting the Big Three training to parents and caregivers throughout New York State. All trainers are required to have had previous experience in conducting behavioral assessments and developing behavior management plans. 

Targeting the Big 3 Training Materials

First Responders Sensitivity and Awareness Training 

In September 2007, OPWDD's Broome DDSO held training sessions regarding autism and first response across six counties. Each training included sessions for parents, advocates and first responders (police, fire fighters and emergency medical technicians). The trainings were well attended and well received. 

In 2010, OPWDD assisted the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) to develop a Request For Proposals for a statewide program of Disability Awareness and Sensitivity Training for First Responders. The three year project was awarded to Niagara University. The training program that will result will include information related to the needs of individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities, including ASDs. 

Current Status - Niagara University's development of the statewide train-the-trainer program began in September 2010. OPWDD is currently a participating advisor to the project. Initial trainings of first responders across the state are expected to occur in 2011. 

Positive Behavior Management Training 

OPWDD is developing a new staff training curriculum to address challenging behaviors of individuals with developmental disabilities by fostering positive and functional relationships, environments, communication, and respect to reduce the likelihood of challenging behaviors. This new curriculum, Positive Relationships Offer More Opportunities to Everyone (PROMOTE) will replace the current staff training program known as Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention-Revised (SCIP-R). The need to have well trained clinical and direct support professionals who are capable of developing relationships and creating environments that are conducive to helping individuals we serve to lead richer lives is critical to achieve the agency mission. PROMOTE is intended to shift the philosophy of staff from behavior control and crisis intervention to that of fostering positive and functional relationships, environments, communication, and respect. 

PROMOTE will teach staff the necessary skills to assure health and safety of the individuals served and staff alike. It will provide staff the necessary tools to increase an individual's self-confidence, connections to others, and opportunities for recreation and relaxation. In addition, staff will learn how to calm people who are upset and how to employ physical techniques to ensure an individual's safety and the safety of others when the individual is presenting an immediate health and safety risk to self or others. 

Current Status - Currently, Level 1 of the 3 level PROMOTE curriculum is nearing completion. Level 1 is expected to be a three-day training program. All activities have been written and are currently undergoing a feedback stage. The video materials needed to deliver Level 1 are still in development. The physical components of Levels 2 and 3 have been developed, but the written portion of the curriculum will be completed after Level 1 is finalized. The additional levels are expected to be one day each. It is expected that the majority of staff will only need Level 1 of the training. The total training time for all 3 levels of the PROMOTE curriculum is anticipated to be around 5 days. 

Navigating Multiple Systems Training 

OPWDD is working with 9 other State agencies and other partners to develop online video modules that will guide families of individuals with disabilities, including ASDs, to the services that are available from New York State agencies. This project is an outgrowth of the successful "One Person/Two Systems" training that described how to access services from both OPWDD and the NYS Office of Mental Health. It will employ an online video format and will assist families to easily determine which New York State service system can support their loved one and access those systems for services.

 Current Status - The workgroup has outlined the proposed content of the training, planned the video segments, including desired links to sites with greater amounts of specific information, and prepared service descriptions. They are planning a pilot of the training with a test audience. 

Additional Initiatives Under Development: 

  • ASD Training for Medicaid Service Coordinators
  • Promotion of trainings for multi-cultural service providers
  • Expansion of Emergency Preparedness Training for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities throughout New York State