Since its inception in 2008, the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training – or KCART – has offered a wide spectrum of services that promote research and training on the causes, nature and management of Autism Spectrum Disorders. One of KCART’s most impactful programs is the Autism Training Program.
The Autism Training Program’s mission is to increase the number of qualified service providers or caregivers in Kansas who can facilitate development in children with autism. The program, which also launched in 2008, accomplishes this through training of professionals, paraprofessionals, and family members.
“The purpose of the training that these folks are attending to increase their skills around intervening with kiddos with autism,” said program director Jill Koertner.
Trainees are taught evidence-based strategies that encourage and increase learning in children with autism while also decreasing behaviors that interfere with learning.
Topics of training include behavior reduction strategies, principles of behavior, teaching strategies, and peer networks and social skills to name a few. The ultimate goal is to improve the functional skills and social-communicative ability of children with autism.
Koertner said that seeing the positive change in behavior and the improvement in children with autism is what got her involved with KCART and the Autism Training Program.
“Like a lot of people this field kind of found me in the sense that once I had seen that kind of behavior change, I couldn’t imagine going and doing anything else with the rest of my life,” said Koertner.
The Autism Training Program has training every month out of the year with the exception of December. Seven of the training sessions take place at the Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. The other training sessions take place in various places across Kansas, including Wichita, Dodge City, and Manhattan.