I sought a leadership opportunity that would allow the development of programs guided by research, on the scale needed to demonstrate new approaches. I was especially excited by the opportunity to do so in an established public school program, because of the potential to reach all children regardless of their background and to replicate more readily to schools elsewhere. DAP was also attractive because it offered comprehensive and well-funded programming, drew extensively on applied behavior analysis, and enjoyed the support of a vibrant parent community.
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I supported the consolidation and growth of a program grounded in ABA. Rapid changes in the awareness of ASD threatened to overwhelm the program because of the increased number of children and the broadening of the spectrum served.
DAP's unprecedented growth during my tenure was complicated by many competing claims about the effectiveness of new interventions and new programs. I developed, adopted, and enforced standards of evidence-based practice and data-based decision-making statewide.
I developed and implemented a research-based protocol across the state. This included the re-alignment of state regulations with the DSM, and the implementation of a related program of specialized and intensive training and coaching for more than 80 staff.
I was responsible for oversight of behavior support at DAP. I revised and expanded the mandate, functioning and oversight of an independent Peer Review Committee. These efforts contributed to extremely low rates of hospitalization and residential placement.
I developed a program for the appropriate use of seclusion and restraint, ensuring compliance fully with the most stringent standards, and helping to maintain extremely low rates of in-patient hospitalization or residential placement.
I revised and expanded the mandate, functioning, oversight, and statewide access to DAP's unique program of respite and residential services. These efforts contributed to extremely low rates of hospitalization and private placement.
All of these initiatives required significant investments in staff and parent training, leading to the development of models of training. I also helped to lead an overhaul of Delaware's graduate ASD teacher certification requirements and courses.
Established more than 40 years ago, DAP is a specialized, statewide public school program that provides comprehensive educational services to students with autism between 2 and 21 years of age across the spectrum and the full range of settings.