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Promoting Autism Acceptance in Children with Virtual and In-person Elementary School Programs

Principal Investigator(s):

Denise Davidson, Ph.D.

Grant Type:

Applied Research




Loyola University Chicago

Year Awarded:



In Progress


Education and School Aged Children


Using a RCT design, this project will assess the impact of virtual (remote-learning) and in-person presentations of an Autism Acceptance Program in 8- to 10-year-old children in comparison to wait-list controls. The program consists of 5 themed modules on topics related to children’s understanding and acceptance of their autistic peers (e.g., facts about autism, sensory sensitivities, promoting friendships). In line with the autism acceptance movement, we use identity-first language (autistic children) in this proposal and include stakeholder feedback (e.g., parents of autistic children) on the program. The program will be comprised of OAR educational materials available on their website (e.g., videos, workbook), along with brief PowerPoint presentations, public domain videos, and interactive activities created for the modules. Quantitative assessment of the program will measure knowledge gained by children about autism, and improvements in their affect (i.e., feelings) and behavioral intentions/behavior toward those with autism. Qualitative feedback and program fidelity will also be gathered. Products of practical relevance will include a handbook and facilitator resources made available to OAR for their website. Scholarly products will include published manuscripts, data for grant submissions and presentations to professional and stakeholder groups. It is expected that improved understanding and acceptance of autism will benefit both children with and without autism.