Project DATA at the Experimental Education Unit

“How do we best provide services to young children with autism that are effective, inclusive, and developmentally appropriate?”

Project DATA (Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism) began in 1997 as a model demonstration program. The project was initiated by Haring Center faculty in response to critical question in the field of education at the time: “How do we best provide services to young children with autism that are effective, inclusive, and developmentally appropriate?”

The purpose of the project was to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a school-based program for young children with autism that was effective, sustainable, and receptive to the needs of consumers (e.g., families and school district personnel).

In order to ensure the best possible outcomes for children with autism and their families, Project DATA integrates the best, most current educational practices from the fields of early childhood special education and applied behavior analysis. The program is also influenced by guiding principles, which serve as the cornerstone of Project DATA:

  1. Children with autism are children first, and the program must be a safe and nurturing place for children
  2. Data-based decision making must be employed across all aspects of the program
  3. Children with autism must have multiple opportunities to interact successfully with their typically developing peers every day
  4. The program must be acceptable to consumers and must fit in the social contexts of public schools