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Other Projects

Mobile REACH











Mobile REACH - for Resources and Education for Autism and Community Health is here!

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute recently created one of the first mobile units focused on autism spectrum disorders with generous support from the Lurie foundation and the Philadelphia Eagles.  Mobile REACH is a tool to help people learn about the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, resources, services, and supports available to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and families.

Ideas for the design for the mobile REACH were generated by students from the Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media and Design through a student design competition. The students competed to create both the outside and inside design while keeping in mind the special interests, sensitivities, and needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and their families. The outside design features the Drexel University logo and dragon, and has the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute logo featured on removable magnets. The inside of the unit has room for storage of outreach materials, but also has the capacity to provide assessments.

Mobile REACH will travel to individuals and families who do aren’t able to easily reach West Philadelphia. The mobile outreach unit will travel throughout Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley, and into suburban and rural Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware areas with a special focus on providing information to individuals and families in underserved and underrepresented communities. The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute will also bring the outreach unit to community outreach events.

Faculty and staff from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute worked on the development of a mobile assessment unit that brings the Clinical and Outreach Cores into the communities. The mobile unit will be used to help with research projects but can also be used in initiatives designed to increase autism spectrum disorder awareness. To design our first mobile assessment unit, the Autism Institute partnered with the Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design to host a student design competition. Click here to read more about the student design competition or click below to browse the innovative designs the students produced and presented. Please check back often or contact us for more information or updates on progress.

Team One's Design [PDF]
Team Two's Design [PDF]
Team Three's Design [PDF]
Team Four's Design [PDF]

Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative

Director of ASERT Collaborative Eastern Region: Lindsay Shea

Funder: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Autism Services

Autism Institute researchers collaborate on the Eastern Regional site of the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative. Along with partners in the western (University of Pittsburgh) and central (Penn State University) regions of the state, the Autism Institute is leading a broad portfolio of projects primarily aimed at improving the lives of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Please click here to learn more about the ASERT collaborative and the projects that are currently ongoing. Click here to read the Pennsylvania Autism Census Project and the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment Reports.

Millville School District Consultation

Project Director: James Connell

The goal of this project is to bring evidence-based, academic and behavioral interventions to general education and special education classrooms using a systems-approach. Using the academic response-to-intervention framework, all K-5 students are screened to determine which students are not responding to the core curriculum, and thus, at-risk for academic failure. At-risk students are then exposed to intensive interventions using a tiered approach. The behavioral response-to-intervention framework uses a similar systems approach called positive behavioral interventions and support (PBIS). In addition to the clinical practice, there are ongoing academic and behavioral research initiatives conceptualized within a scientist/practitioner model, and intended to refine the implementation of both systems.

Graduate Education Programs

The mission of these two programs is to develop highly specialized consultants who are capable of sophisticated assessment and subsequent intervention development in mental health and behavioral health community settings in the area, and across the country.

Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis and Certificate program (Drexel School of Education)

Dr. Connell is currently developing the next generation applied behavior analysis master’s-level training programs with an emphasis on ASD and environmental and individual supports across the life-span. The program will meet the Behavior Analysis Certification Board’s 2015 certification requirements and includes content in Ethics and community-based consultation. Successful graduates of this program will be qualified for a wide-range of career opportunities. For example, there is an overwhelming need for highly skilled and knowledgeable behavioral specialists in mental and behavioral health provider agencies. Drexel ABA graduates will work well in multidisciplinary teams, and work collaboratively to develop and disseminate behavioral in mental health community settings.

School Psychology Post-Baccalaureate Programs

A School Psychology Education Specialist (EdS) program is also planned for 2014 and will encapsulate the applied behavior analysis master’s program. The assessment, consultation and intervention clinical and research opportunities will contribute to the development, evaluation and dissemination evidence-based interventions, including systems level interventions (eg., response-to-intervention and school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports). This scientist/practitioner school psychology program will emphasize instructional and behavioral support in general and special education environments, and will extend beyond the halls of traditional public school settings to include community-based programs that serve children from birth to 21.

Mindfun Project

A team of researchers from Drexel University was awarded a $250,000 grant from Shire Pharmaceuticals to develop behavioral health management tools. Dr. James Connell, along with Dr. Brian Daly from The College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. William Regli from The iSchool, and Dr. Frank Lee from Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, will embed activities that rely on executive functioning abilities such as time-management, problem-solving, planning and organization into a game called “Mindfun”. Mindfun is a game module that looks like the very popular Mind-Craft which is played by over 20 million children on mobile devices, laptops and desktops.  Mindfun is designed to be interesting and engaging to children diagnosed with ADHD and will look very similar to Mind-Craft, but the game module will have embedded instruction that will teach tasks that rely on executive functioning. Mindfun will require some parent participation to aide in the transfer of skills learned in the virtual world, to everyday tasks in the real world. The goal is to teach topographically similar and functionally related skills in the game world that are very similar to tasks in the real world (such as cleaning one’s room, getting dressed, brushing teeth), and use mom or dad as an agent to transfer the skill.