Hello, my name is Sam Odom and I am a visiting professor in the Department of Special Education at Stockholm University. I spend two months a year in Stockholm, one in the fall and another in the spring. My other jobs are as a Senior Research Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and Emeritus Professor in the School of Education, both at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also, I spend much of my time in San Diego, California, where I have an appointment as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Special Education at San Diego State University.
While at Stockholm University, I have had the opportunity to work with faculty and students on several projects. You may have read on this blog about one of the projects that focuses on using the Play Time/Social Time curriculum in preschools here in Stockholm. Eva Siljehag, Mara Allodi, and Maria Gladh are the researchers working on this project. Using the Play Time/Social Time curriculum and play activities, teacher introduce ways that children in preschools and their peers with disabilities can play together. This curriculum was originally developed and tested by our research team when I was at Vanderbilt University and our collaborating team at the University of Minnesota. To give teachers a tool for assessing children’s social interaction, we developed a short rating scale called the Teacher Impression Scale (TIS). Eva and Mara have translated it into Swedish and teachers report that it is an extremely useful assessment. The Play Time/Social Time curriculum was translated to Swedish with a grant from the Groschinsky stiftelse minnesfond.
In the United States, my other research, writing, and work with teachers focuses on practices that support the success of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders. This began with the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and continued most recently with the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism. Both of these websites have great resources for teachers. One of the features is a set of online modules, called Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Materials (AFIRM) that provides information and resources to teachers about how they can use evidence-based practices in their classrooms. These modules are free.
In Stockholm I am also working with Lise Roll-Petterssen and Hampus Bejnö, who are running a research study on including preschool-aged children with autism in preschool settings. As part of that project, Hampus has translated and adapted for the Swedish culture an assessment called the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS). Their work was recently published in an article in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. He and Lise are using information from the APERS to work with teachers to provide a supportive inclusive preschool program for children with autism.
In this next few weeks, I will describe more about the work we are doing in the United States and its potential applications in Sweden.