Jasper in the Classroom: Preschool Teacher Experiences Integrating Autism Intervention in Lausd Classroom Curriculum

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
N. Muldoon1, L. Hughart1, J. Panganiban2 and C. Kasari1, (1)University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, (2)Semel Institute, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background: JASPER (Joint Attention Symbolic Play Engagement and Regulation) is an evidence-based social communication intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Kasari et al, 2006). Past research has examined a train-the-teacher model for JASPER in Preschool for All Learners (PALs) teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) (Lawton & Kasari, 2012). The present JASPER in the Classroom pilot explores the experiences and feedback of teachers regarding their experiences learning and implementing JASPER within the classroom setting.

Objectives: To gain insight into the experiences of LAUSD PALs teachers who were trained to use JASPER strategies for implementation into their daily classroom curriculum.

Methods: Following the completion of the JASPER in the Classroom study, PALs teachers who received extensive training in JASPER were asked to share their experiences as participants (n=10). Teacher interviews consisted of 10 questions prompting for their feedback and were conducted and recorded via Zoom, a web call software. Recorded interviews were later transcribed and coded by two research assistants. Common themes were coded from the responses and prominent themes emerged following a consensus check. All themes were categorized and tallied. Five of the 10 questions were selected for analysis based on relevancy to the present study.

Results: Of the five selected questions, one to four prominent themes emerged per question. Of the ten teachers (n=10), 7 expressed feeling overwhelmed while initially learning JASPER strategies, while 3 expressed initial ease. When asked to report the most useful strategies learned, joint attention gestures (n=7) and language strategies (n=7) were reported to be the most useful, followed by modeling (n=4) and behavioral regulation gestures (n=3). Eight teachers reported that they will use all strategies, while 2 responded that there was one specific strategy they do not plan to employ. All 10 teachers found implementation of JASPER to be feasible in the classroom — three expressed that live-coaching is a necessary aspect of making it feasible, and three thought that having paraprofessionals coached would make it even more feasible. In terms of unprompted comments made, 7 said the strategies are generalizable throughout the day, 7 expressed that JASPER helped them in setting student goals, 5 saw visible improvements in students, and 3 said the strategies are generalizable to all students.

Conclusions: Coding common themes from interviews with PALS teachers revealed promising results of integrating the JASPER intervention within PALs classroom curriculum (n=10). While teachers expressed feeling initially overwhelmed, all found implementation of JASPER to be feasible within the classroom setting and reported they would continue the use of JASPER strategies post-study. These interviews revealed promising results of integrating JASPER intervention directly within the PALs curriculum — rather than requiring teachers to set aside classroom time to implement the intervention — which may potentially lead to an increase in social communication among students with ASD and other related disorders. This feedback regarding different aspects of learning JASPER and implementing it into the curriculum can inform similar studies moving forward, and will allow teachers to be an integral part of this process.

See more of: Education
See more of: Education