Va-LEND Trainee Receives 2017 OAR Research Grant

by Jennifer M. Drummond

May 12, 2017

Heather Coleman, who received her certificate of completion from Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (Va-LEND), Program this past May also received a $2000 Research Grant from The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) to support her dissertation research. Coleman's was among 26 proposals submitted to OAR, a national non-profit organization formed and led by relatives of children and adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome. A doctorial student at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Coleman's study is titled Parent Implemented Communication Intervention for Young Children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities. She has 18 months to complete her research and will work directly with parents and their children with autism.

"I hope that the intervention will help preschool aged children with autism learn to request for their favorite items (toys, activities, or food). Further, I hope to show parents and professionals that the intervention is easy to implement and parents can implement interventions reliably. Parents know their child the best and I believe that too often they are left out of intervention work. It is recommended to involve parents in intervention implementation and teaching so that the child is learning skills in a consistent manner. Parent implemented research is rare in autism research and I feel my dissertation will make an important contribution in the field." Coleman commented on how thankful she was to her husband and for the guidance she received from the VCU courses in the Special Education Department and Va-LEND. "Without the support of Drs. Beth Bader, Donald Oswald, Lissa Power deFur, Yaoying Xu, Jason Chow, Serra De Arment, and Kevin Sutherland, and my doctoral student colleagues, I would not have received this grant."