Both research and our experience have shown that agencies can maintain high-quality activities if clinical and executive personnel persists in ensuring that training and feedback are provided to direct support staff and their supervisors. However, staff training and supervision associated with providing the highest quality center-based activities must be dynamic in nature. For the quality of a center’s activities to keep pace with evolving best practices, agencies should strive for improvements on a continuous basis. Improvements should be particularly pursued in two areas in most center-based programs. One area pertains to expanding the skills of agency staff. The second area involves maximizing community integration among adults with autism served by the agency.
Expanding Staff Skills
When monitoring staff provision of meaningful activities over extended time periods, the supervisor and clinician will likely notice areas of staff performance that, if further developed, could result in more successful outcomes for center participants. As noted in Chapter 6, A Staff Training and Supervision Plan to Increase Meaningful Activities, e.g., sometimes the monitoring data indicate that staff are providing meaningful activities but many of the individuals in a group are not engaged in the activities (i.e., there are high levels of off-task behavior). In this situation, staff may need training and supervision in how to prompt and reinforce individual participation in activities (Parsons et al., 2004). In other situations staff may be performing major aspects of the activities for participants due to lack of participant skills necessary to perform the activities themselves. In this case, staff would likely benefit from training and supervision in how to embed brief teaching trials within ongoing activities to promote participant skill development (Parsons, Reid, & Lattimore, 2009).
There may also be cases in which individuals appear disinterested or unhappy about participating in an activity. In such cases staff may need training in how to provide activity choices and other ways to promote individual consumer enjoyment (Reid, 2016). For these and related reasons, clinicians should be vigilant about recognizing areas of staff performance that warrant improvement and then work with relevant personnel to further enhance staff skills to promote high-quality services.