AIR-B Network Continues Outreach in Diverse Communities

April 28, 2021

Although much of the research activity has moved virtual, the Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health (AIR-B Network; PI: Kasari) continues its research-community partnership in the COVID-19 era. The AIR-B is a network of researchers at UCLA, UC Davis, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, Drexel University, University of Kansas, University of Washington and each site's local community partners working to increase equity in access to ASD information and interventions for families of children with ASD.

The UCLA team and Healthy African American Families, who normally host a free annual autism conference in English, Korean and Spanish at a church in Los Angeles, held their event online this year. The conference, Mapping Your Future: Self-Determination and COVID Successes in ASD, covered research on self-determination in ASD, community programs on self-determination, and strategies that teachers, parents and self-advocates are using for successful distance learning. Collaboration with community partners and having culturally diverse research staff made it possible to deliver three separate, interactive conferences in different languages. The online format allowed attendees from others states and countries, such as Hong Kong, Italy, Canada and South Korea, to participate. One attendee commented that "it was helpful getting perspectives from teachers, students, parents and researchers about distance learning" and another said that he/she "really enjoyed being in a community space where people could share their expertise and dialogue" during the pandemic.

AIR-B investigators and trainees have continued to publish data from previous iterations of AIR-B and to disseminate findings from past studies. One publication examined how undocumented Mexican mothers of children with ASD navigate the service system; another focused on a randomized pilot study of an advocacy program for Latinx parents. A publication on Mind the Gap, an intervention that utilizes peer coaches to support caregivers of children with a recent ASD diagnosis, is also available. Some of AIR-B team members collaborated with other researchers and published an article on adapting community-partnered research to include individuals with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic in the special issue of a journal co-sponsored by the AUCD. Other papers include a publication on a randomized controlled trial comparing two models of social skills interventions with adolescents and one on the use of social network measures to inform school to work transition. AIR-B has also disseminated research via virtual presentations at various professional and community-based organizations as well as the media, including RadioKorea, the largest Korean American radio station.

In Sacramento, the UC Davis team has successfully obtained additional funding, in partnership with the Warmline Family Resource Center. The new grant will help the resource center to extend their participation in Mind the Gap and hire peer coaches who will assist under-resourced caregivers in the fourth iteration of AIR-B. The study will begin in late summer.

The AIR-B partnership has endured the pandemic and has been actively distributing evidence-based ASD information in communities. As the world enters the post-pandemic life, AIR-B will adapt to new changes and continue providing support to communities in need.

Mapping Your Future For Parents, Advocates, and Community Self-determination and COVID Successes in ASD Welcome to the free virtual conference on autism hosted by the AIR-B Network - UCLA, Health African American Families, and your community providers!