Autism Speaks | MSU Study Questions Ability of Public Schools to Serve Students with ASDs (PDF Avail.)| Sept. 19, 2011 #AutisticHistory #BanABA


[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

MSU Study Questions Ability of Public Schools to Serve Students with ASDs

September 19, 2011

LANSING  (September 19, 2011) — The Michigan State University College of Education has published a study that identifies shortcomings in the level of training among Michigan public school professionals for educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study findings further bolster arguments that behavioral treatment therapies should be provided by medical professionals as a covered insurance benefit.

The executive summary of the study, “Educating Michigan’s Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Initial Exploration of Programming,” is below.

Executive Summary Read the full report at
The ASD-Michigan Project

Educating Michigan’s Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Initial Exploration of Programming


“The ASD-Michigan Project” is the first study of its kind to examine the extent to which Mich- igan public school professionals are trained in effective practices for educating students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how of- ten they use such practices with students.

Little is known about the status of education in Michigan for students with ASD. That makes the findings especially valuable for Michigan policy makers and education leaders, who are under increasing federal mandates – including the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individu- als with Disabilities Education Act – to ensure all students succeed in the classroom.

The research also has broad social and eco- nomic implications, since children with ASD who do not receive appropriate educational services grow up to be undereducated adults with ASD. Instead of potentially becoming productive members of the community, they may require taxpayer-provided supports for the rest of their lives.

The problem is urgent. The number of Michi- gan public school students with ASD is 15,403 (latest official number) and rising. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the
Figure 1 – Diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum of Students Studied
country, according to the Autism Society of Amer- ica, affecting 1 in 110 U.S. children. It is a complex neurobiological condition with no cure, impairing a person’s ability to communicate, socialize and learn. Symptoms are expressed in atypical behav- ior ranging from mild to severe.

A number of different approaches have been developed to address the academic, behavior- al, communicative and social skills needs of students with ASD. It wasn’t until 2009, how- ever, that the relative effectiveness of these various interventions was determined by an expert panel convened by the National Autism Center. The panel reviewed 775 studies related to the treatment of individuals with ASD and categorized each approach based on the level of research-based evidence to support it. The
Summer Ferreri, Ph.D. and Sara Bolt, Ph.D.

Pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified (18%)

resulting National Standards Project identi- fied several practices that were found to have significant, positive effects on the learning and development of individuals with ASD.
Looking to determine if these effective meth- ods were being used in Michigan classrooms, Michigan State University College of Educa- tion researchers surveyed school profession- als and parents of K-12 students with ASD to examine:

n the type of services students with ASD in Michigan’s K-12 schools receive,
n the extent to which the services repre- sent evidence-based practices,
n school professionals’ training on such practices, and
n parents’ satisfaction with the services. Findings
n Many educators of students with ASD are not using proven, effective teaching strategies.
Researchers found that 41 percent of Michi- gan teachers are not using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and 44 percent are not using Social Stories, both of which are established, evidence-based practices for teaching students with ASD. Wealthier school districts were more likely to use unproven teaching strategies.
n Even when educators reported using effective strategies, most didn’t report using them regularly.

While no national standards for intensity of interactions have been set, ABA is an evidence- based practice and may help achieve optimum
results for individuals with ASD. However, only 32% of ABA users in the study employed the technique at least one to five hours per week.

Many Michigan education professionals lack the training necessary to effectively teach stu- dents with ASD.

Many special educators who reported using research-supported strategies said they learned these strategies through training obtained after their initial certification. General educators re- ported quite limited training in the strategies, and paraprofessionals reported receiving train- ing often through peer or self-training rather than via more formal instruction.

Researchers found a need for educator train- ing at every level (e.g., undergraduate, gradu- ate, professional development, etc.): “Teacher preparation institutions should prepare their special educators and general educators alike to enter the workforce armed with training in the most effective practices for individuals with ASD. Additionally, a structured and com- prehensive training forum should be required for paraprofessionals …”

Many educators have low academic expecta- tions for students with ASD, even though high expectations for students are an important as- pect of effective teaching.
One-third of the 194 Michigan teaching pro- fessionals responding said their target stu- dents with ASD wouldn’t meet any grade-level achievement standards.
n Many Michigan students with
ASD do not have access to the curriculum offered other students, despite the federal requirement that all students, including those with disabilities, have access to the general curriculum.

Figure 2 – Teacher Expectations for Students to Meet Grade-Level Achievement Standards
thus may not be representative of all Michigan parents – 62% of the 34 parents reported some level of satisfaction with their child’s progress toward educational goals.
However, more than three-quarters (76%) of parents sampled said they had to request ser- vices beyond what the school originally offered. And 85% of those parents seeking outside ser- vices spent an average of $8,000 per child per year and in some cases as much as $100,000.

n Better training of school professionals is needed to ensure students with ASD make academic progress.

Study findings indicate that some Michigan teaching professionals have insufficient train- ing as they attempt to educate the state’s grow- ing population of students with ASD – a situa- tion that if left unaddressed will take its toll in unrealized human potential and unsustainable costs to taxpayers.

n Better access to statewide data
on students with ASD is crucial to determine whether the services Michigan schools provide are helping students succeed.

The researchers successfully gathered infor- mation on educational services for students with ASD across the state, but encountered many roadblocks that restricted the type and amount of information that could be studied. Rules surrounding the confidential nature of disability status made data access and analysis particularly complex.

Low expectations for students with ASD may be reflected in the alternate curriculum they are offered. 26% of the targeted students with ASD never or rarely had learning opportuni- ties that reflected the general education cur- riculum. This was especially true in wealthier districts where more specialized pull-out ser- vices and programming are offered.
Most parents report having to request ser- vices for their children with ASD beyond those originally provided by the school. Most also say they have sought services for their children with ASD outside of school.

Figure 3 – Student Exposure to General Curriculum
While the 34-parent sample was limited pri- marily to those who were contacted by teach- ers about participating in the survey – and

About the Authors
Summer Ferreri
Assistant Professor
Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

Summer Ferreri is an assistant professor
of special education. Her primary research focus is on the development, implementation and evaluation of effective interventions to increase social, communicative, and academ- ic skills and decrease disruptive behaviors of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in applied settings. More specifically, she has conducted research with children with ASD to (a) determine the function of ges- tural behaviors through functional analyses, (b) increase communicative behavior using current technology and evidence-based strat- egies, (c) improve school-readiness behaviors using behavioral-based interventions, and (d) decrease disruptive behavior and pica. She has also conducted research on parents’ and professionals’ training and implementation of such interventions.

Sara Bolt
Associate Professor
Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education
Sara Bolt is an associate professor of school psychology. Her research focuses on examining assessment tools that can enhance instructional decision-making for students who are at-risk for poor academic outcomes. She also conducts research on accommodations for diverse learners (e.g., students with disabilities, English language learners), and more generally on methods for the effective inclusion of all students in large-scale assessment and accountability programs.
Statewide datasets on special education per- sonnel and students are very limited, and it was extremely difficult to identify which schools and teachers had children with ASD.
To ensure data were systematically collected throughout the state, researchers resorted to calling schools and tracking down email ad- dresses of special education teachers and con- sultants likely to be teaching students with ASD.

It was not possible to directly contact par- ents to independently identify their level of confidence in their child’s instruction, so re- searchers had to depend on teachers to relay their request for information to parents. Given a very low parent response rate initially, the researchers sought additional parent partici- pation via advertisements. Despite these ef- forts, only 34 parents responded, meaning the perspectives of more than 80% of parents were not represented. Therefore, it was not possible to determine the level of parent satisfaction for the educational services provided to the vast majority of students.

Furthermore, although data on educational outcomes are collected on all students as a part of the statewide accountability system, there is no systematic reporting at the state level of outcomes for students with ASD. Without spe- cific performance data on students with ASD, it is very difficult to determine the effective- ness of existing educational services.
If outcomes cannot be tracked, it’s impos- sible to know:
n how well, or if, students are learning,
n how to improve services, curriculum or
training, or
n where to focus reform efforts.
This study was funded by Eileen and Ron Weiser, the Kellogg Foundation and the Skillman Foundation.


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

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