Preliminary investigation of interdisciplinary trainee’s improvement in knowledge about autism spectrum disorder


Purpose: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often receive services from a variety of professionals. However, not all providers receive adequate training in ASD. The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program includes a core competency of increasing knowledge about neurodevelopmental and related disabilities. This study attempted to assess trainees’ ASD knowledge and self-reported confidence in working with individuals with ASD and sought to understand if training through the LEND program increases these competencies. Additionally, the purpose of this study is to determine factors that predict ASD knowledge and self-reported confidence in providing services to this population, specifically in an interdisciplinary trainee sample. Design/methodology/approach: Participants were 170 interdisciplinary LEND trainees during the 2017–2018 academic year. Participants across the USA completed online pre- and posttraining surveys. The survey included demographics, ASD knowledge, questions assessing training experiences, perceived ASD knowledge and self-reported confidence. Findings: A one-way analysis of variance determined that there was a statistically significant difference in measured ASD knowledge across disciplines F(7, 148) = 5.151, p <.001. Clinical trainees (e.g. psychology, pediatrics and speech) exhibited more measured ASD knowledge than nonclinical trainees (e.g. neuroscience, legal). Additionally, training experiences, self-reported confidence and perceived ASD knowledge were predictors of measured ASD knowledge. Moreover, trainees increased their measured ASD knowledge, self-reported confidence and had more experiences with individuals who have ASD at the end of the training year. Originality/value: These findings suggest that the LEND program may assist in the preparation of professionals to work with individuals with ASD. Training opportunities, including educational and practical experience, to train interdisciplinary providers who will work with individuals with ASD are advised.

Publication Title

Advances in Autism