Children’s Hospital Colorado Expands Access to Free, Online Teacher Training to Help Students with ASD and ADHD Improve Executive Functioning Skills


$2 million PCORI contract in 2020 made access to resources possible for families of children with ASD and ADHD

Aurora, Colo. – Free, online teacher and parent training designed to improve the executive functioning of elementary school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is now accessible across the nation. The availability of this training is possible due 

to a $2 million contract awarded to Children’s Hospital Colorado’s (Children’s Colorado) Pediatric Mental Health Institute by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute ( PCORI) in 2020. A team from Children’s Colorado, Children’s National Hospital and The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore is working to implement a successful online training and tele-support system for the  Unstuck and On Target (UOT) program for any parent or educator who needs it. 

Since 2020, this team has piloted UOT video training with 293 school-based staff across 230 elementary schools in Colorado and Virginia. The work follows a related PCORI-funded research project,  Improving Classroom Behaviors Among Students with Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, led by Children’s Colorado researchers.That project demonstrated the effectiveness of UOT at improving the executive functioning – or frontal lobe skills, including flexible thinking, planning and self-control – of school-aged children in Title 1 schools. 

“Through our initial research, we saw that the classroom behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder improved markedly with a teacher’s implementation of Unstuck and On Target groups,” said  Laura Anthony, PhD,Children’s Colorado psychologist, professor of psychology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and lead researcher. “Making a video-version of this training accessible and free to educators everywhere is a dream realized. This is a huge accomplishment for this research team, and we want to applaud the school districts and educators already taking advantage of these invaluable resources. There are many kids who need Unstuck in every school, and we hope this training will make it more possible for them to receive it.”

In developing the online teacher training, the team did not change the content and procedures of UOT’s manualized program. Rather, it transferred proven UOT school-staff training content from an in-person to an online platform. Completing the new training will also allow teachers to attain related continuing education credits. 

“The Institute was honored to produce and host the UOT Elementary School Teacher Training,” said Meredith Gunn, PhD, MSW, director of instructional design and media at The Institute for Innovation and Implementation. “Participating teachers overwhelmingly responded positively about the overall impact and importance of this training. In the words of one educator, ‘I deeply appreciate how this program understands and values the importance of the student’s input into their plans and developing their coping strategies.’” 

In addition to creating more accessible training for educators, the team created short, free videos highlighting executive functioning tips and tricks that parents can employ at home. These videos, evaluated by 100 parents and revised based on their input, are now available to parents nationwide. 

“These free, accessible and effective tools for improving children’s social-emotional development are building skills that are more important today than ever,” said Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National Hospital. “The vast majority (96%) of caregivers and educators found these tools useful and relevant. That feedback is a testament to our team’s efforts to make sure these resources were created and validated as usable, approachable and actionable for everyone who needs them.” 

There are many school districts, either in low income or rural settings, that don’t have access to clinics that offer services to support executive functioning skills, such as planning and flexibility, that children with ASD and ADHD often need. Now, UOT training is online and accessible so any school with internet access can offer UOT where school staff (including special educators, teachers, paraprofessionals and counselors) can actively teach students how to plan, set goals and be flexible. The team’s next goal is to create a comparable video training for the high school version of UOT.

For educators – Find resources on  https://www.unstuckandontarget.com including links to the free trainings, tips and tricks and FAQs.

For parents – Find resources on  Unstuck and On Target YouTube

For schools – Add the free parent videos to your school district’s relevant websites, landing pages, newsletters:  https://www.unstuckandontarget.com

ABOUT CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL COLORADO

Children’s Hospital Colorado is one of the nation’s leading and most expansive pediatric healthcare systems with a mission to improve the health of children through patient care, education, research and advocacy. Founded in 1908 and recognized as a top ten children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Colorado has established itself as a pioneer in the discovery of innovative and groundbreaking treatments that are shaping the future of pediatric healthcare worldwide. Children’s Colorado offers a full spectrum of family-centered care at its urgent, emergency and specialty care locations throughout Colorado, including its location on the Anschutz Medical Campus, and across the region. In 2019, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, opened as the first pediatric-only hospital in southern Colorado. For more information, visit  www.childrenscolorado.org, or connect with us on  Facebook and  Twitter

Children’s Hospital Colorado complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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ABOUT CHILDREN’S NATIONAL HOSPITAL 

Children’s National Hospital, based in Washington, D.C., was established in 1870 to help every child grow up stronger. Today, it is the No. 5 children’s hospital in the nation. It is ranked No. 1 for  newborn care for the sixth straight year and ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. Children’s National is transforming pediatric medicine for all children. The Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus opened in 2021, a first-of-its-kind pediatric hub dedicated to developing new and better ways to care for kids. Children’s National has been designated three times in a row as a Magnet® hospital, demonstrating the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty care locations in the D.C. metropolitan area, including Maryland and Virginia. Children’s National is home to the  Children’s National Research Institute and  Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. It is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. As a non-profit, Children’s National Hospital relies on generous donors to help ensure that every child receives the care they need. 

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ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR INNOVATION AND IMPLEMENTATION, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE 

The Institute for Innovation & Implementation (the Institute) was founded in 2005 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The Institute is committed to building research-based, innovative, sustainable, and transformative youth-and family-serving systems and services, and to develop the capacity of the workforce within these systems. We do this work in partnership with government agencies, health care providers, and community-based organizations to improve outcomes for and with youth and their families. For more information, visit  https://theinstitute.umaryland.edu/ and follow us on  TwitterFacebookInstagram, and  LinkedIn.

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