North Texas Autism Project

Thank you for your interest in the services provided by North Texas Autism Project (NTAP). NTAP, in conjunction with the Department of Behavior Analysis, provides support to professionals and agencies delivering services to children with autism.

The primary objectives of NTAP are:
1) to provide a training context for students in the Department of Behavior Analysis;
2) to provide technical support and expertise to professionals and agencies serving children in our region; and
3) to conduct research on treatment and training efficacy. 

For further information contact Shahla Ala’i-Rosales at Srosales@pacs.unt.edu.

Our Mission
The North Texas Autism Project (NTAP) is a service-learning project in the Department of Behavior Analysis in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of North Texas. The Department of Behavior Analysis (www.pacs.unt.edu/depts/BEHV/) offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Behavior Analysis. Autism is one of many special interest areas offered by the department. NTAP was created in response to a growing local and national need for qualified providers of behavior analytic services. The mission of NTAP is to provide applied community service-learning experiences for graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Behavior Analysis (DBA), to provide community treatment service support, and to produce pragmatic research.
 
Courses, Training Opportunities, and Programs
The DBA offers five courses on campus in the “Autism Specialty” sequence and several courses related to autism through the DBA distance education program. Many DBA students have also conducted Master’s level thesis research with NTAP. To date, over 30 thesis projects have been completed. Students involved in NTAP also receive performance-based instruction through practica and internships on campus, throughout the DFW metroplex, and in national and international internship sites. NTAP provides service-learning programs that provide students with experience and expertise that will enable them to deliver evidence-based, state of the art services, conduct useful research and contribute to their professional communities.
 
Community Partnership Programs.Our community partners include private providers, nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies. One of our largest and most active partners is Easter Seals North Texas Autism Treatment Program (ATP), a DARS funded initiative. All service-learning experiences are supervised DBA faculty and community partner Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Supervision meets the requirements of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (www.bacb.com/) and the ABA Autism SIG guidelines (www.wmich.edu/aba/Autismwebfile.htm). NTAP/DBA faculty and students are also involved in several professional committees and groups dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of evidence based services for children with autism. Finally, NTAP faculty and students frequently present workshops, disseminate research results and provide program descriptions locally and internationally.
 
Sunny Starts. The purpose of Sunny Starts was to develop a program model that addresses the needs of families who have toddlers with autism. The ability to detect autism at such an early age is a very recent advancement. The Sunny Starts model teaches parents to identify and arrange opportunities to interact with their children in ways that will increase motivation and social responsivity. By teaching parents to create and arrange motivating conditions, children are able to learn increasingly complex skills throughout everyday family routines and activities. Sunny Starts provides training opportunities for DBA students that allow them to competently work with families and very young children with autism. Sunny Starts  has also received national and international attention because of the focus on an emerging but critical intervention area. In cooperation with community partners at Easter Seals and ACES, the Sunny Starts team is preparing training materials to replicate efforts in our region.
 
Cultural Competence Lab. This is a lab embedded in the community and designed to address cultural competencies within the provision of behavior analytic services. The project combines qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding variables that increase the likelihood of culturally sensitive behavior between BCBAs and their clients. Students have the opportunity to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of staff training programs in cultural understanding and responsiveness.
 
Global Learning Community. This is a project that began with colleagues at the University of Stockholm. In cooperation with Dr. Roll-Petersson, a blended and guided training program was developed to support professionals in their efforts to provide high quality evidence-based interventions to children with autism (Roll-Petterson & Alai-Rosales, 2009). Participants included citizens of several countries and efforts are under way to further develop the model and make this advanced training approach available globally. In the fall of 2010 NTAP sponsored an international summit on university training of ABA professionals. The proceedings of the summit will appear in a special issue of the European Journal of Behavior Analysis in October 2010. Students involved in this project will receive instruction in distance, blended and guided instructional techniques in higher education. 
 
 
NTAP History and Development
 
 
Phase I - During Phase I of NTAP (1998-2000), our primary objectives were to train a core group of graduate level professionals, provide direct services to as many children as possible, conduct pragmatic research, and to begin forging community partnerships with qualified providers in our region. Thanks to the tremendous contributions of many wonderful people, many of these goals have been accomplished. Within two years, NTAP served as a context for comprehensive and in-depth training to over 40 graduate and undergraduate students and has produced several research projects that have been presented at local, regional, and international conferences. NTAP directly served over 45 children and has forged partnerships with several qualified providers and agencies within the region, in the state of Texas and across the nation.
 
 
Phase II - During Phase II (2000-2004), our primary objectives were to continue to provide an intensive training context for graduate and undergraduate students and to support qualified Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) professionals in the community. The training of our students and the research we conducted took place primarily in community settings with BCBAs, many of whom are our alumni. The shift from direct provision of child services to partnership with community providers was desirable for several reasons. First, our resources were extremely limited. Second, by working in cooperation with the community, we supported rather than competed with the community. Third, our students obtained training in a variety of high quality settings with a variety of well-trained behavior analysts. Finally, we believe that our research and training have become increasingly responsive to the needs of the community.
 
 
Phase III - During Phase II (2004-2007), our objectives were involve continuing to provide an intensive training context for graduate and undergraduate students, to support qualified Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) professionals in the community, to continue to expand our pragmatic research and training programs, and to initiate a family support program, “Family Connections”, and to participate in the establishment of a UNT multidisciplinary Autism Resource and Training Center.
 
 
Phase IV - During Phase IV (2007-present), our current objectives are to continue to provide an intensive training context for graduate and undergraduate students, to support qualified Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) professionals in the community, to continue to expand our pragmatic research and training programs, to disseminate the successful procedures of our family support program, “Sunny Starts”, to systematize and nationally disseminate our ES ATP model, to initiate and expand our "Global Learning Community", and to expand efforts in cultural responsiveness within behavioral interventions.