Ulster University

Translating Research into Treatment

An innovative online support tool for parents of children with autism, designed by the University of Ulster and Queen’s University, has gained international recognition after being adopted in eight European countries.

The resource aims to empower parents with the knowledge and techniques to bring about positive changes in their children’s social and communication skills through online video tutorials, animated lessons, advice sections and downloadable resources.

Simple Steps has been translated in to eight languages including German, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Icelandic, Italian, Swedish, and Dutch. The State Diagnostic and Counseling Clinic in Iceland has also selected it as the preferred resource for treatment of children on the autism spectrum.

The multi-media training tool teaches parents the basics of the scientific principle of applied behaviour analysis (ABA). ABA is emerging as one of the most effective, evidence-based treatments to improve the quality of life for children and adults with autism

Dr. Stephen Gallagher, researcher on the Simple Steps project from the University of Ulster said:

“Simple Steps is the first interactive learning guide in Europe that is designed for parents and rooted in scientific research. Using ABA as an intervention for autism has shown significant results including helping children to successfully move into mainstream education and reducing dependence on family and carers. There are over 20,000 families living with autism in Northern Ireland who do not have access to ABA therapies through the NHS. The universities are working hard to engage with the NI Executive to convince them of its benefits and enhance accessibility locally to this leading online support tool”

Professor Karola Dillenburger from Queen’s University added:

The Centre for Behaviour Analysis at Queen’s is delighted to be partner in this project. The Simple Steps interactive learning guide demonstrates how local university research can deliver benefits on a global scale. We are also using Simple Steps as a teaching resource to help broaden students understanding of the tool as a treatment for autism. This is further evidence of our research advancing knowledge that is helping to change lives.”

Simple Steps has been developed by both universities in partnership with Northern Ireland autism charity Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT) and funded, in part, by the EU Leonardo’s Lifelong LearningProgramme.

For further information on the Simple Steps resource visit www.simplestepsautism.com and for more information about the development of Simple Steps see www.stamppp.com

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