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The Individualized Support Project and the ISP Outreach for State Service Systems

The Individualized Support Project (ISP) was a demonstration program that received federal funds to develop, implement, and replicate a comprehensive early intervention program for young children with challenges in behavior and communication development.

The ISP has received much attention from professionals and early intervention systems who face tremendous challenges in developing early intervention supports for young children with autism and their families. Across the country, early intervention providers are struggling to provide supports that result in meaningful outcomes and can be delivered through publicly funded early intervention programs. The ISP is an attractive model for early intervention providers as it is designed to build the capacity of families and child care providers to meet the unique intervention and behavioral support needs of young children with autism. In ISP, children and their families receive comprehensive supports within natural settings.

The ISP was funded to assist early intervention programs in Pennsylvania and Connecticut to replicate the ISP model. Over the three-year grant period, project staff provided training, coaching, technical assistance and information dissemination to early intervention personnel in the targeted states. In addition, conference presentations, workshops, and publications continued to promote ISP as a viable and effective early intervention approach.


Families As Teachers Program

Individuals with developmental disabilities pose a challenge to health care and disability related professionals because each child and their family are a unique combination of intellectual, emotional, and medical concerns. With the onset of de-institutionalization, the health care management for the developmentally disabled has become an increasingly larger portion of core medical practice.

The Families As Teachers (FAT) program was developed to raise awareness of the issues confronted by families and to help bridge the gap between families and health care professionals. Since 1997, FAT has focused on promoting positive outcomes for, and a greater understanding of, people with developmental disabilities and their families. In addition to workshops, professionals were offered the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges that families face in their everyday lives through visits with families in their homes. The success of the program was having professionals realize that "patients do not exist only in clinics and hospitals &emdash; that they have lives!"

Family Network Project

The Family Network Project (FAMNET) is a three-year project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research that offers help to families of children with developmental disabilities and problem behavior. FAMNET has operated as an affiliated CARD project, supporting families within the Hillsborough County area, many of whom have children with autism or related disabilities.

FAMNET operates on a family-centered model of support that combines a parent group format with in-home support. The parent groups consist of families with children from 4-to-6 years of age recruited from selected neighborhood areas. A total of six group sessions occur bi-weekly. The in-home visits happen on the weeks between and there is a one-to-two month follow-up period. Within the parent group sessions, FAMNET staff help families to develop a vision for their child, understand why their children exhibit problem behavior, and develop a support plan that can be used within the family routines. Through the parent groups, families learn new positive behavioral support (PBS) strategies and learn from other parents who have children with similar challenges.

In-home support involves getting to know the family and child within family environments. In keeping with the family-centered model of support, all of the strategies are developed with the families and in-home support is provided at times convenient to the family and during the time of greatest need. At the time of the home visits, the FAMNET support specialists assist the family in the application of positive behavior support strategies, introduced during parent groups sessions, to their unique home and community situations. The support specialists model the use of strategies and then coach families in their use of the support strategies with their children.

FAMNET is refining PBS training materials which include modules for six to eight family groups and a family support plan guide with suggested strategies. All of these materials are based on the principles of positive behavioral support. In addition to family support, FAMNET provides training for organizations that offer services to families as well as providing in-service training for teachers and administrators in local public and private schools.


Family Network Parents

"...I really got interested in the group after they came to the house. And they really made me feel comfortable there...at ease. And everyone was so down-to-earth."

"I think we both needed help, the kids and the parents. And it was that coming home that really did it. You know? Put it all together."

"You know, it felt good to be around other people that could understand what you're going through. And they understand, and they don't judge you, because a lot of times people think it's your fault and your child is just spoiled, or whatever. And it felt good not be alone."