The STAR Program is a comprehensive behavioral program for children with autism. The STAR Program is based on the research for children with autism over the last 30 years. Dr. Arick and Krug began working with children with autism in 1973. They developed a program for children with autism that was used in the schools for over 20 years. This program used the strategies of discrete trial training, augmentative communication systems and teaching independence to children with autism. They published a research article (Krug, D., Arick, J., Almond, P., Rosenblum, J., Scanlon, C., and Border, M. 1979) and wrote a book that described the curriculum (Krug, D. A., Rosenblum, J., Almond, P. and Arick, J. 1981).
In 1997, at the request of several school districts, Dr. Arick began working with Lauren Loos, MS and Dr. Ruth Falco to develop the STAR Program based on the research-based methods of discrete trial training, pivotal response training and teaching functional routines. The methods of discrete trial training, pivotal response training and teaching functional routines have been researched by many investigators, including the authors, for over 30 years (see chart and references below). The recommendations from the book Educating Children with Autism, written by the National Research Council (2001), was also used to develop the STAR Program. Based on this work and the work of many other researchers over the last 30 years the STAR Program was developed. The program was designed to give teachers the instructional plans and materials needed to implement a research-based program as part of the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in a public school program or other setting.
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After development of the STAR Program a student outcome study using the STAR Program was conducted with over 122 children enrolled in public pre-school and school-age programs over a five year period. These programs included rural, suburban and urban schools. The authors provided training in the STAR Program and an independent team of researchers conducted assessments of the students to monitor their progress. The students made significant progress in all areas of instruction. In particular students made significant progress in the areas of expressive language, receptive language, social interaction skills, academics and independence on functional routines. A peer-reviewed research article was published in 2003 in the Journal, Focus on Autism, that describes the progress of the first cohort of 67 students in the Outcome study (Arick, Young, Falco, Loos, Krug, Gense and Johnson, 2003).
Following the autism outcome study a series of training sites have been developed to help provide training to teachers to implement the strategies of discrete trial training, pivotal response training and teaching functional routines used in the STAR Program. Research data continues to be collected at each of these training sites to document the progress of students.