The Autism Services Research Group seeks to investigate many diverse questions that impact persons with autism and their families in the Indiana and Kentucky area as well as the state of Kentucky, regionally, and across the country. Much of our efforts center on testing the effectiveness of the COMPASS intervention model that was created by Dr. Lisa Ruble and Nancy Dalrymple. The COMPASS Consultation Manual is for education consultants and professionals nationwide.

Many members of the research team have interests that culminates in research and services in other areas. This has led to publications relating to public and private healthcare costs associated with autism, the impact of rurality on parent reports of services available and satisfaction, how social skills affect loneliness and friendships, as well as many other studies.

Presentations & Publications

Publications – a collection of peer-reviewed journal articles and literature created by this group

Presentations – some of the posters presented at various scientific conferences as well as an overview of some of our findings

Current Research

BREATHE: A Burnout Intervention for Special Education Teachers

With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, we are adapting and testing an intervention called BREATHE designed to reduce special education teacher burnout and attrition and improve teaching quality, classroom climate, and student outcomes.

Validation of an Implementation Strategy for Training Community-Based Consultants in COMPASS

With NIH funding, we are developing and testing a training package on COMPASS for community-based ASD specialists.

Longitudinal Study of Adult Outcomes

About 20 years ago, Nancy Dalrymple and Lisa Ruble published one of the first studies challenging the ways outcomes were measured for individuals with autism and originally surveyed more than 40 young adults. The current study is a follow-up study with these individuals with a focus on their quality of life. All are in their 40s. Information on employment status, living situation, family support, and personal responsibilities will be assessed.

Past Research

Pilot Research on Services for Transition-Age Youth Improving Transition Outcomes in ASD using COMPASS

With funding from National Institute of Mental Health, we have started a new study to understand the issues of transition for youth with ASD, what are the barriers for achieving good outcomes, what are the key outcomes, and how should they be measured. With this information, we will adapt COMPASS and conduct two pilot randomized controlled trials. We will evaluate how well COMPASS works for achieving positive outcomes following school.

Parent Engagement in Treatment Decision Making

With funding from the University of Kentucky Intramural Research Support, we have started a new study in collaboration with the Dr. Donna Murray and clinicians of the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders. The objective of this study is to develop and test the sensitivity, validity, and, reliability of measures designed to evaluate how well services are family-centered, if we are engaging families in the care for their child with ASD, and if desired treatment goals are being met. A range of patient-centered assessment tools exist (e.g., patient activation), but there has been little work on assessing these concepts from the family caregiver perspective. Given that the majority of parents are the primary, lifelong, decision-makers for their child with ASD, family-centered approaches hold promise for improving the quality of life of children with ASD and their families.

School Psychologists Knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders

One of the goals of the National Association of School Psychologist’s Autism Interest group is to identify the needs and supports of school psychologists. The Autism Services Research Group, in cooperation with the Interest group, is investigating school psychologists’ knowledge and skills in identifying, evaluating, and providing interventions for students with autism spectrum disorders. More than 1000 electronic and written surveys were sent to state-sponsored school psychology organizations as well as other interested parties in order to understand these issues, and more than 400 were returned. Results are currently being analyzed.

Validity of Intelligence Assessment

Doctoral student, Rachel Aiello, received funding from the Organization for Autism Research to examine two popular intelligence assessments used with children with autism spectrum disorders. Please see the flyer to find out how you can participate.

Randomized Study of Web-based vs Face-to-Face COMPASS Consultation for Teachers of Students with Autism

Lee Ann Jung, Ph.D being recognized at a UK Basketball game by President Todd and his wife for our grant funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
We received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (grant number: 1RC1MH089760) to examine three types of professional development training and compare their effects on child and teacher outcomes. We recruited 49 children and teachers. Of these teachers, 15 received only basic online autism training, 15 received consultation from the research team followed by face-to-face teacher coaching, and 14 received consultation followed by web-based teacher coaching. Findings have been presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research and at the American Psychological Association.

Outcomes of Teacher Training in Autism

Our pilot study “Outcomes of Teacher Training in Autism” evaluated the effectiveness of a parent-teacher collaborative consultation training approach, known as COMPASS (Ruble & Dalrymple, 2002) . Preliminary findings are positive and our current research builds upon our findings. The study which was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant number 1R34MH073071-01A1) has been completed. Read the UK College of Education research brief about Dr. Ruble’s research in 2008.

Public vs. private insurance: Cost, user, accessibility, and outcomes of services for children with autism spectrum disorders

Parents/caregivers completed a survey regarding recent usage of nine specific services- inpatient care, medication management, counseling or training, individual therapy, in-home behavior therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, case management, and respite care.

Community Services Outcomes for Families and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

In an era in which evidence based practices are becoming the standard of care, there is little evidence that the current array of services commonly delivered for those with autism is helpful. This study describes community-based service utilization and caregiver-rated outcomes of services on symptoms of 13 children with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

Access and Service Use by Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Medicaid Managed Care

Although Medicaid is the largest public payer of behavioral health services, information on access and utilization of services is lacking, and no data on the frequency of service use or types of services provided for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are available.

Parental and Caregiver Satisfaction with Services, Utilization, and Costs in Kentucky

A report by Dr. Lisa Ruble sought to provide a unified voice to assist Kentucky State Interagency Council for Services in understanding the needs of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders. This consortium consisted of professionals and parents who represented various support groups from across the state as well as parents representing themselves and their children.