Background: Prior to coming to Penn State to work on my PhD, I was an autism coordinator for the Washington DC Public Schools. Some of my job responsibilities included: structured professional development, instructional coaching, academic and behavioral consultation and support, as well as program development. From this time, I became aware of the need for teachers and related service providers to have increased quality and quantity of training about individuals with autism, specifically those with complex communication needs. Additionally, before my time as a coordinator, I was an autism special educator for five years in both public and private school settings.
Current Interests: One of the driving forces for getting my PhD was to learn how to better prepare preservice teachers and related service providers to effectively work with individuals with autism who have complex communication needs and to increase outcomes for students. Related to this, I have interest in increasing interdisciplinary collaboration, specifically between the fields of AAC and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In my past two years at Penn State I have worked on research projects related to: employment, literacy, and video visual scene displays.
Sample Presentation/Publication and Rationale: O’Neill, T., McCoy, A., Holyfield, C., Boyle, S., Lang, J., Mandak, K., & Wilkinson, K. (2016). Family leisure as a context for AAC intervention: An interdisciplinary case study. Presented at the annual conference of the American Speech and Hearing Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (download handout as pdf).
This presentation was selected to represent my current interests as it was an opportunity to work on interdisciplinary collaboration for improvement of outcomes for a case student.
Dissertation Chair: Dr. David McNaughton
Additional Information: Ashley McCoy (from AAC.PSU.EDU)
Think Tank Presentation Topic: Question Answering & Asking for Individuals with ASD & CCN