About STAY-IN Project

Early start intervention for young children with autism attending educational services in low-income areas

Erasmus+ Project Number:

  • 2018-1-ES01-KA201-050656

Project Partners:

  • Universitat de Valencia (Spain) - Coordinator
  • Fundatia Marcel Prodan (Romania)
  • Consellería de Educación, Investigación, Cultura y Deporte (Spain)
  • Asociación Autismo Ávila (Spain)
  • Mira'm Fundacio C.V. (Spain)
  • Bulgarian Association for Persons With Intellectual Disabilities -BAPID (Bulgaria)
  • Universidad de Salamanca (Spain)
  • Scoala Gimnaziala Spectrum (Romania)

Project Summary:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term used to group together a range of brain development disorders. According to the DSM-5 (APA, 2013) a dyad of impairments must be present for an ASD diagnosis: (1) persistent social communication and interaction deficits in multiple contexts, and (2) restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. It is accepted that at least 1% of the population have ASD (Atlanta Centre for Disease Control). No medical treatment is available for the core symptoms of Autism, but children with autism progress much better when specific educational supports are provided. After diagnosis, early intervention for autism is essential for the child’s development and education and for his/her future inclusion.

A number of early intervention programs have been developed in recent decades with some of them having some scientific evidence of their effectiveness (Wong et al, 2014). A subgroup of those methods focuses on parent training as a means of obtaining best results in child development. Parent training research on early intervention with autism has proven effective because parents can learn to implement strategies with a high degree of fidelity, helping their children to generalize and maintain skills. Research suggests that parent training is a cost-effective and efficient method of providing early intervention for young children with ASD (Ingersoll and Dvortcsak, 2010) and it is appropriate for low-income regions (WHO). Families should be provided with the opportunity to learn those strategies, and these opportunities should include not only didactic sessions, but also ongoing consultation looking at individualized problem-solving, including in-home observations or training for a family, as needed, to support improvements both at home and at school (NRC, 2001).

The STAY-IN project aims to bring cost-effective and evidence-based early educational intervention programs for ASD to low-income regions of the EU by means of schools working with young children with autism. In order to achieve this, participant organizations will share their best practices in this field. Preliminary work has been undertaken; BAPID has pioneered the development of early intervention services for autism in Bulgaria, with the opening of a specific early intervention centre in Vidin in 2011. AUTISMOAVILA specialises in ESDM (Early Start Denver Model). AUTISMOAVILA, in collaboration with qualified trainers from the MIND Institute (USA), provides training on this version. USAL has translated and developed training actions around IMPACT Model (Michigan State University and Portland, Oregon), which is a very well-structured program for early intervention in autism based on close collaboration with parents to reach its objectives.

All the partners of the proposal will collaborate in three work groups to produce reports about the feasibility of implementation of ESDM-P, ImPACT and PACT in the participating regions, with an in depth analysis of technical, economic, cultural and societal issues. A further work group will compare the proposed models in order to reach higher level conclusions for inclusion in a global report. This report will serve to inform policy makers about the best alternatives available. A high impact is expected for young students with autism, their parents and teachers from the participating schools/associations, who will be able to access early intervention evidence-based programs for ASD. The training department of the Regional Government of Valencia (CEFIRES-GVA) will increase its training repertoire by including early intervention programs for school provisions for young children with autism. The participating Universities (UVEG and USAL) will promote research in this area and will obtain first-hand experience of the needs of people with autism and how early intervention can foster their development. The sustainability of project outcomes is ensured by the support of research institutions authoring the early intervention models.