The Experimental Education Unit

The Norris and Dorothy Haring Center for Applied Research and Training in Education at the University of Washington is committed to improving the education, development, and inclusion of people with developmental disabilities. To achieve this goal, our center consists of three interrelated units: The Experimental Education Unit (EEU); The Applied Research Unit (ARU); and the CARE Clinic. By integrating research, training and service, the Haring Center prepares young children and adults to meaningfully participate in an active community.

The EEU is our oldest unit, with a rich history in pioneering new practices in early childhood special education. The EEU opened it doors in 1970 to address the gap in public education services for families and children with special needs. This program, which predated IDEA (the federal law mandating a free, public education for students with disabilities), was one of the first in the world that proved we could effectively educate children with Down syndrome in the classroom. This groundbreaking program was replicated around the world and changed the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families in a profound, and lasting way. Currently the EEU provides comprehensive early learning services to 250 children annually from birth through kindergarten, with and without disabilities, in integrated classroom programs.

The ARU houses our research activities, which allows us to conduct and transfer critical research findings directly into the classrooms, and disseminate these best practices deep into the community. This vibrant unit includes research being conducted by both students and faculty. Currently we have funding from a number of private foundations and federal agencies including the Office of Head Start, Institute of Educational Sciences, and Organization for Autism Research. One of our most prominent projects is the exciting new National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning funded by the Office of Head Start. The goal of this center is to foster school readiness in children in Head Start programs by helping their teachers use the most effective and efficient instructional strategies.

Through the CARE Clinic, professionals are able to provide diagnostic assessments, school consultations, and family support services to people with neuro-developmental differences and their families. The CARE Clinic also provides training to students and professionals training tomorrows leaders about best practices in the field today.

The generous award that we received from the Charles Lafitte Foundation has provided essential support to Project DATA (Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism) at the EEU. Project DATA is an evidence-based comprehensive treatment model that provides services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) from diagnosis through kindergarten. Project DATA started in 1997 with a grant from the United States Department of Education. We have been in continuous operation for the past 14 years with the help of grant funding, school district tuition, and generous contributions from foundations and individuals. The CLF gift is our largest single gift, and has provided continuity and sustainability in services for this valued program. In the past year alone, the CLF gift has enabled us to continue to provide state of the art services, at no cost to families, to toddlers with ASD. Providing high quality, comprehensive intervention services provided as soon as the child is diagnosed with ASD is essential and results in wonderful outcomes for children who participate. Many of the early intensive behavioral intervention programs for children with ASD report best outcomes for approximately 50% of their participants. Similarly, outcomes from

Project DATA show that 57% of our graduates attend inclusive kindergarten and elementary programs and that every child in our program makes meaningful progress. In addition to assisting with the sustainability of the preschool Project DATA, the support from CLF enabled us to extend the program to include toddlers as soon as they are diagnosed with ASD. This program not only provides essential services to toddlers, but also provides support to families at a time when they need it the most.Project DATA has become one of the signature programs developed, evaluated, implemented, and disseminated by the Haring Center. In addition to continuing to run the program at the Haring Center and train graduate students locally, we have hundreds of visitors to the program every year and conduct numerous trainings for school districts and other agencies across the state, nation, and internationally. The gift from CLF has allowed us to make monumental strides in our own program, however this support has had a remarkable impact far outside the walls of the EEU, and deep into the community.

Currently we have a grant from the Washington State Department of Early Learning to provide training on using evidence-based practices to work with infants and toddlers with ASD and their families to early intervention providers across the state. In addition, we have two pending grant proposals requesting funds to conduct a large group study comparing Project DATA to standard community practice, and we have a team who are working on a version of the Project DATA manual that will be published commercially.

Finally we are continuing to refine Project DATA to hone our services into a program that meet our original goals of being effective, sustainable, and acceptable to parents and school professionals. We are able to do this work, in large part, because of the generous support of the Charles Lafitte Foundation and we extremely grateful for your early and continuing confidence in our program and mission.

For more information please visit: http://www.haringcenter.washington.edu/eeu