Professor Vicki Bitsika has specialised in the assessment and treatment of individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder for over 25 years. She has acted as Consultant to schools and Human Service Facilities in Australia and internationally. 

As well as working hands-on with children, adolescents, and adults with autism conditions and behavioural challenges, Professor Bitsika has also trained and supported parents to deal with their childrens' difficulties in the home environment. She has developed and conducted numerous workshops and training sessions for professionals who work with individuals with disabilities and special needs. She received an ALTC citation award in 2009 for development of innovative curriculum in Behaviour Management. Professor Bitsika was awarded a Whinston Churchill Fellowship in 2010 to travel to the USA and UK to investigate best practice intervention technologies for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She currently holds the position of Professor of Autism Spectrum Disorders and is Director of the Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Bond University. Professor Bitsika's research programme focuses on multi-modal assessment of anxiety disorders in children with an ASD, contextualized approaches to Functional Behaviour Assessment, and examining resilience factors in families of children with an ASD.

Vicki will present on Day 1 in Symposium 2 - Current Research on Developing ASD Friendly Schools.

The Regional Research in Autism Pedagogy Project (RRAP) - Vicki Bitsika1, Fran Lopez2 & Jean Stevens1.
1
Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Bond University, GC, Queensland, Australia.
2RRAP, Burleigh Heads State School, Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia.

The Regional Research in Autism Pedagogy Project (RRAP) was funded by Education Queensland as one of two Centres for ASD expertise to deliver specialised educational, social-emotional, and behavioural programmes to high-needs students with an ASD. The major commitment of the RRAP was to implement a professional training process designed to build teacher and teacher-aide competencies in applying evidential education approaches in their daily practice. The Bond University Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders, in partnership with Education Queensland, implemented and evaluated this professional training process which was designed with direct reference to the Scientist-Practitioner Model for service delivery, plus the SPELL framework for understanding the key issues which impact the functioning of individuals with an ASD in school and other contexts. This presentation will describe the approaches used to contextualise the Scientist-Practitioner and SPELL models so that they addressed the issues present in Queensland classrooms, as well as the process used to assist teachers and teacher-aides to collect data and apply evidence- and data-driven interventions in their classrooms. Pre- and post-training evaluation of the professional training process showed that teachers and teacher-aides increased their knowledge bases, changed the way they worked with their students, and gained confidence for transferring their new learning and skills to other students and educational contexts. The findings indicate that robust changes in educators' daily practice in relation to their students with an ASD are more likely to occur via training which focuses upon systematic assessment, intervention planning, and trouble-shooting rather than ad hoc application of autism-specific strategies.

Also presenting in this Symposium:
Dr Liz Pellicano
Prof Jacqueline Roberts
Dr Trevor Clark