Autism Postdoctoral Training Program

The postdoctoral research program will provide postdoctoral fellows with extensive research training in the academic, behavioral, and social development of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from pre-K through their transition out of secondary school. The overarching goal of this program is to prepare four fellows (with 2 years of training each) to engage in rigorous research related to the developmental needs of students with ASD and the factors that enhance school achievement. This fellowship is funded via the Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Special Education and Early Intervention via the National Center for Special Education Research within the Institute of Education Sciences.

The program will support fellows in developing research skills, including developing their own research agenda and gaining specific content and methodological expertise as well as professional skills, including leadership, project management, dissemination of research to various audiences and educational stakeholders, manuscript preparation, and grant writing. Fellows will work with up to two faculty mentors that most closely match their individual research agendas and can provide mentoring in needed methodological skills. In collaboration with their mentors, fellows will develop an Individualized Training Plan to guide their training activities. Over the course of the training program, fellows will work on original research projects while also developing their content and methodological expertise by collaborating with their faculty mentors on existing research projects. Fellows will be actively involved in research projects on all levels, from overall grant management to specific research activities such as data collection, analyses, and dissemination of results.

Research opportunities for the fellows currently include (but are not limited to) the following: (1) an exploratory study to better understand how to build a statewide network to improve use of evidence-based practices for students with ASD; (2) a program of studies on the biological, behavioral, and environmental/educational factors that impact language development in children with ASD and other developmental disorders; (3) an evaluation of a curriculum to improve the post-secondary educational and vocational outcomes of high school students with disabilities, including ASD; and (4) a series of research studies on the impact of joint attention on learning and cognition in children with ASD. In addition to research activities with their mentor(s), fellows will engage in multidisciplinary training activities to enhance their content knowledge and professional skills, including seminars/courses on such topic as ASD, writing for publication, preparing for the academic job market, and grant writing.