The Haring Center has a long history of asking critical questions and conducting ground-breaking research to improve the learning of individuals with special needs. Many of the educational practices developed at the ARU have come to be considered best practice in the field of special education. As a result of this work and the dissemination of the ARU’s instructional practices and models, countless students and families are thriving. Some of these innovative projects include:
UW Down Syndrome Program
Research conducted in the very early days of the Haring Center demonstrated to the world that children with Down syndrome are able to learn in their homes and in classrooms, just like their peers.
In January 1971 a new era in the lives of children with Down syndrome, their families, and their teachers began with a class of 11 preschool children. Dr. Valentine Dmitriev, the program’s first coordinator, conceived and implemented this innovative program that provided systematic early and continuous intervention that started in infancy. The principal investigators of this demonstration program were Dr. Norris Haring and Dr. Alice Hayden. The original funding was from Handicapped Children’s Early Education Programs (HCEEP). Educational approaches and academic programs that are used today to teach children with Down syndrome in the majority of our nation’s classrooms are based on the model curriculum that was developed as a result of this program. The program has been implemented across the U.S. and in over 17 countries around the world.
A website dedicated to the project (http://www.anewera4ds.org/) documents the accomplishments of the Down Syndrome Program.
Father's Network and the Sibling Support Project:
Early on, Haring Center researchers recognized the important role that families play in the lives of people with special needs, and that caregivers and siblings often demonstrate a unique need for support related to navigating family life and interactions with their family member with special needs. As a result, two unique and important programs were developed: The Father’s Network and the Sibling Support Project. Both projects were developed at the Haring Center by Greg Schell and Don Meyer.
The Father’s Network has expanded to serve counties across Washington State, and is the only regional program in the U.S. that is solely focused on supporting fathers of children with special needs, and providing them with the information and resources they need to be effective dads. For more information on the Washington State Father’s Network, please visit the website at http://fathersnetwork.org/
The Sibling Support Project is now an international program dedicated to the lifelong concerns of siblings of individuals with special needs. One of the most well-known activities of the Sibling Support Project is the SibShop program, which provide siblings the opportunity to support one another and have fun in the process. Over 350 Sibshop programs are currently being offered throughout the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Guatemala, Turkey, and Argentina. For more information on the Sibling Support Project, please visit the website at http://www.siblingsupport.org/
In the 1990’s one of the most pressing challenges facing the field of early childhood special education was how to provide effective, inclusive, and developmentally-appropriate school-based services to children with autism and their families. For 17 years, ARU staff have been conducting autism intervention research in an attempt to answer this question. This research has led to a model program, Project DATA (Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism), which has already been replicated in school districts across Washington State and the country.
National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL)
Responding to the need for professional coaching and training to give early learning teachers the skills to increase their students’ elementary school readiness, in 2010 the U.S. Office of Head Start awarded a five-year, $40 million grant to Haring Center researchers to create the National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL). The grant remains the largest received by the University of Washington College of Education.
Dr. Susan Sandall and Dr. Gail Joseph oversaw a team that took an inclusive approach to improve effective teaching practice, by developing practice-based coaching techniques and other professional development tools for early educators around the country. This process supports teachers’ use of effective teaching practices that lead to positive outcomes for children. With an emphasis in creating a set of products to provide teachers with the strategies to help any child become kindergarten ready regardless of ability, this team focused on four tenants of supporting school readiness for all children:
- Engaging Interactions and Environments
- Research-Based Curricula and Teaching Practices
- Ongoing Child Assessment
- Highly Individualized Teaching and Learning
NCQTL distributed more than 40 focused teaching suites that helped every teacher embed learning into all aspects of his or her classroom. The training materials developed by NCQTL have been used by Head Start programs in all 50 states and US territories. Head Start teachers, the young children they teach across the county, and their families have been impacted by the work of NCQTL.