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Exploring Mechanisms of Change in a Pilot Trial of the RUBI Program in Educational Settings

August 1, 2021 - July 1, 2024

Disruptive behaviors impact meaningful engagement in academic tasks and with peers, as well as result in placement in more restrictive settings, higher use of restraint procedures, and suspension, all of which have lasting negative impacts. School-based behavioral management approaches, while effective, are time-consuming and resource-intensive, resulting in high costs and delays in intervention deployment. There is a need for a paradigm shift in the care model for disruptive behaviors in the classroom, specifically an efficient and pragmatic intervention model that builds capacity with direct care providers, which in turn streamlines the intervention process, reduces the need for intensive behavioral supports (thus lowering costs), and increases the number of autistic children who can be served — RUBIES hopes to fulfill this need.

What are the goals of the study?

Our pilot randomized trial seeks to test the effectiveness of and understand how the newly redesigned “RUBIES” Intervention can assist and empower paraeducators in addressing and reducing disruptive behaviors in their elementary autistic students.

What will happen during the visit or online?

After the student is deemed eligible, paraeducators will be randomly assigned to one of two interventions: RUBIES training (delivered live over Zoom with a trained specialist) or Psychoeducation in Autism training (delivered asynchronously through pre-recorded webinars with the option to check-in with a live coach). Each intervention has 8 sessions to be completed over 12 weeks. RUBIES participants will be invited to a semi-structured interview (45-60 minutes), which will be audio recorded and virtually conducted.

How will this help families?

The most accessed service system for autistic children is the public school system. By building capacity with these children’s direct care providers (paraeducators, in the case of RUBIES), our study can help improve the support their children receive in schools. Many paraeducators, who often have the most intimate interaction with these students, are undertrained when it comes to support autistic students – let alone, autistic students when disruptive behaviors arise.

Eligibility Criteria

Paraeducators and teachers must be employed by a public school district and currently work directly with autistic children in a general education setting in their school. General education settings can include times like academic periods (math, English, history), electives (PE, Art), recess, and lunch – any time when their student interacts with a general education classroom.

View the study flyer here.

View study documents

Watch an informational video

Contact Information

Gabriella Canning – rubies@uw.edu

Research Study Website
University of Washington SMART Center

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