After growing up alongside a family member with autism, Katy Bateman (PhD ‘17) was inspired to become a champion for inclusion in education.
Throughout her life, Bateman was intrigued by the therapies and education services that were used to help her cousin learn.
“She had limited language when she was younger and we worked a lot on her language,” Bateman said. “As I got older, I saw her language progress into speaking full sentences. She now has a part-time job and she loves it. Seeing her language start to click made me think, ‘How can I do this for other kids, too?’”
Bateman’s search for an answer brought her to the University of Washington College of Education and its Haring Center for Applied Research and Training in Inclusive Education. The center’s Experimental Education Unit (EEU) is an internationally-recognized model for inclusive education and serves 250 children who range in age from birth through kindergarten. At the EEU, half of the students in each classroom have autism or another developmental disability while the other half are typically developing.
“It’s such an important place for research, changing education and using all the smart teaching strategies that we know are effective from research to improve education by making sure that kids of all abilities have access to high quality instruction,” Bateman said.
Bateman works in the EEU’s Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism classroom, known as Project DATA. The classroom extends the school day, allowing instructors to practice therapies that students traditionally receive at home in a school setting.
For her dissertation research, Bateman chose to focus on coaching methods for parents of children with autism. In recent years, applied behavior analysis has been shifting to require specific parent trainings for insurance purposes. The goal of her study was to streamline approaches to autism that can be used in schools and homes, and she was one of a handful of rising scholars selected to participate in a national cohort of special education doctoral students by the Council for Exceptional Children in 2016-2017.
“I focused on teaching preventative, antecedent skills to parents of children with autism who engaged in high rates of challenging behavior at home. I wanted to make sure that parents knew how to prevent and respond to these problematic behaviors. Parents are the driving force behind applied behavior analysis programming at home. If we don’t teach them how to support these programs, they’re not going to be able to sustain in-home practice.”
Bateman is continuing to promote the inclusion of students of all abilities as a practicum advisor in the UW’s Applied Behavior Analysis program and as a teacher educator for special education teacher candidates being trained at the EEU.
“If we don’t teach kids how to interact, despite their different abilities, they won’t do it. We need to teach kids how to interact, how to accept one another and to recognize that not everyone is the same and that we all have different needs.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications