2011 Goldstick lecturer Ilene Schwartz to speak about meeting needs of children with autism

by The College of Education  /   Oct 27, 2011

Dr. Ilene Schwartz, chair and professor of Special Education at the University of Washington, will give the annual Goldstick Family Lecture in the Study of Communication Disorders for the College of Education at Illinois.

Schwartz will talk about “Blending Approaches to Meet Individual Needs of Young Children with Autism: Outcomes from 10 Years of Project DATA,” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 10, at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana.

Phillip C. and Beverly Kramer Goldstick endowed this initiative in 2005 for the Department of Special Education to provide new methods and practices to families and schools to ensure that children, regardless of disability, have the opportunity to live as independently as possible in their home, neighborhood, and community.

As an indirect outcome of the Goldstick Family Initiative, a number of interdisciplinary groups have formed on campus, according to James Halle, professor and Goldstick Family scholar emeritus. The groups “study varying aspects of social-communication in children and youth with disabilities such as Rett syndrome, autism, and other developmental disorders,” he said.

Along with serving as chair and professor, Dr. Schwartz is faculty advisor for the inclusive preschool and kindergarten programs at the Experimental Education Unit at the University of Washington. She is also the director of the Norris and Dorothy Haring Center for Applied Research and Training in Education.

Her work examines effective instructional strategies and environmental arrangements to facilitate the learning of young children with autism and related disabilities. By identifying and validating instructional strategies, she seeks to understand how to efficiently and effectively teach teachers and others to implement these strategies.

“Meeting the needs of young children with autism has become a daunting challenge for families and school districts,” said Schwartz. “Recent research suggests that effective early intervention programs for children with autism may be more critical than previously believed.”

As principal investigator of several federal projects, Schwartz has designed a model demonstration project to develop school-based services for young children with autism, and has developed a personnel preparation program for early childhood education teachers working with children with severe disabilities in inclusive settings.

“There remain, however, questions about how to provide these services in a manner that is effective, as well as socially valid and sustainable,” she said. “An emphasis of Project DATA was to blend the strengths of different disciplines (for example, early childhood special education and applied behavior analysis) to create a comprehensive school program for young children with autism that is effective and appropriate for this population.”

The Goldstick lecture will include remarks from U of I College of Education Dean Mary Kalantzis, Goldstick Scholar Michaelene Ostrosky, Schwartz, and Phillip Goldstick. The event is free, open to the public, and a reception will follow.

The Goldstick Initiative funds a lecture series in communicative disorders each fall. It also supports two research fellowships for doctoral students and a faculty appointment, the Goldstick Family Scholar in Communications Disorders, in the College of Education. Dr. Michaelene Ostrosky, head of Special Education, has been the Goldstick Family scholar since 2010.