Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


Second Annual Autism Conference; Atlanta, GA; 2008

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #7
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

From DT to DI: Using Direct Instruction to Teach Students with ASD

Saturday, February 9, 2008
2:30 PM–3:30 PM
Regency Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Cathy L. Watkins, Ph.D.
CATHY L. WATKINS (California State University)
Dr. Cathy L. Watkins received a doctorate from the University of Florida in 1987. She is a Professor of Special Education at California State University, Stanislaus and Co-Director of the Center for Direct Instruction. Dr. Watkins is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and past president of the California Association for Behavior Analysis. Dr. Watkins serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Direct Instruction and Education and Treatment of Children. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies and the Board of Directors of the Association for Direct Instruction. She is co-author of The Components of Direct Instruction in Introduction to Direct Instruction and consulting author of SRA’s Ravenscourt Books. Dr. Watkins has experience working with both general and special education students. She trains and supervises teachers at the university and in public schools. She has consulted with schools and other agencies including the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI) and the Effective Schools Model of Project Follow Through. Dr. Watkins was honored with the Association for Direct Instruction's Excellence in Education Award for College Teaching and Staff Development. Her primary interest is in helping children and their teachers to be successful.

The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has increased substantially and many students with ASD are general education classrooms. The transition to a less restrictive educational placement presents special challenges for students with ASD whose early learning experiences have consisted primarily of structured 1:1 teaching. Teachers need effective instruction that can be integrated into typical classroom routines and activities. In addition, landmark legislation (IDEA and NCLB) requires the use of instructional methods that are based on scientific research. Direct Instruction can provide a practical and effective option. Direct Instruction programs are scientifically-based but, more importantly, they are empirically-validated. More than 30 years of research has shown Direct Instruction to be effective in addressing the needs of students ranging from those with severe disabilities to those identified as gifted, suggesting that the principles underlying effective instruction are more important in the process of learning than the special characteristics of any particular student population. Direct Instruction programs are based on two overarching beliefs: All children can be taught and all teachers can be successful when given effective materials and presentation techniques. In this session, Dr. Watkins will discuss how Direct Instruction programs can address the unique needs of learners with ASD while supporting the acquisition of academic skills. The presentation will provide an overview of Direct Instruction, present video examples of instructional programs, and describe features of instructional design and delivery methods of DI programs that make them effective and efficient tools to teach children with autism spectrum disorders.

Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists and/or Certified Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: N/a



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