Paper cutouts of silhouette

Successful autism and ADHD tools go digital

Paper cutouts of silhouette

A team is working to implement a successful, evidence-based online training and tele-support system for the Unstuck and On Target (UOT) program.

A team from Children’s National Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado and The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore is working to implement a successful, evidence-based online training and tele-support system for the Unstuck and On Target (UOT) program. The program is now available for free to any parent or educator who needs it.

What is it?

Since 2020, this team has piloted UOT video training with 293 school-based staff across 230 elementary schools in Colorado and Virginia. The work follows a related PCORI-funded research project, Improving Classroom Behaviors Among Students with Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, led by Children’s National and Children’s Colorado researchers. That project demonstrated the effectiveness of UOT at improving the executive functioning – or self-regulation skills including flexible thinking, planning and emotional-control – of school-aged children in Title 1 schools. The training focuses on the executive function of elementary school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In addition to creating more accessible training for educators, the team created short, free videos highlighting executive functioning tips and tricks that parents can employ at home. These videos, evaluated by 100 parents and revised based on their input, are now available to parents nationwide.

The availability of this training is possible due to a $2 million contract awarded to Children’s Hospital Colorado’s (Children’s Colorado) Pediatric Mental Health Institute and Children’s National by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in 2020.

Why it matters

There are many children, including those in low-income or rural settings, that don’t have access to clinics that offer services to support executive functioning skills, such as planning and flexibility, that they need. But all children have access to a school. Now, UOT training is online and accessible so any school with internet access can offer UOT where school staff (including special educators, teachers, paraprofessionals and counselors) can actively teach students how to plan, set goals and be flexible. The team’s next goal is to create a comparable video training for the high school version of UOT.

“These free, accessible and effective tools for improving children’s social-emotional development are building skills that are more important today than ever,” said Lauren Kenworthy, Ph.D., director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National. “The vast majority (96%) of caregivers and educators found these tools useful and relevant. That feedback is a testament to our team’s efforts to make sure these resources were created and validated as usable, approachable and actionable for everyone who needs them.”

More information

For educators – Find resources on Unstuck and On Target, including links to the free trainings, tips and tricks and FAQs. Teachers can also receive continuing education credits (CEUs) for this training.

For parents – Find resources on Unstuck and On Target’s parent training videos

For schools – Add free Unstuck and On Target parent videos to your school district’s relevant websites, landing pages and newsletters.