School of Education & Human Development
Autism Research and Teaching on the Eastern Coast in Sydney, Australia
Through a Fulbright Specialist honor, Laurie Sperry, assistant clinical professor at the School of Education and Human Development, was given the opportunity to provide teaching and research on autism to a number of key groups in Sydney, Australia.
Each day, Sperry visited five early childhood centers operated by the Australian Early Intervention Outcomes Unit (AEIOU) which has locations across the eastern coast of Australia. She conducted onsite evaluations, met with staff, made recommendations and worked with colleagues to develop action plans. She provided training and workshops to administrators and staff, assisted in the space design of a center that had just opened, and offered parent training to families and community members. Sperry and an Australian colleague, Dr. Deb Keen, co-taught a well-attended intensive autism course at Griffith University, working directly with students with ASD.
Sperry flew to Sydney to give a presentation to members of Parliament, including the Minister of Education and Minister of Health and Disability Services. She spoke about professional development in the Autism Center she directs at CU Denver. The University of Colorado Denver Autism Center focuses on capacity-building through teacher and staff training. Sperry also had an opportunity to discuss the development of a rural and remote model. It provided guidelines to services for families with children with ASD living in Western Australian and in Aboriginal communities.
Sperry was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Company. She followed an invitation to return to Australia in January and went back again in the fall of 2009 to work with AEIOU and the Australian government, assisting in the appropriation of funds and in professional development activities. She also taught a course at Griffith University. Sperry's work has been instrumental in helping to develop more inclusive services for people with autism, their families, and their communities.
“This has been one of the most extraordinary professional experiences of my life. The people of Australia were so welcoming and are committed to providing evidenced based best practice programming to children with ASD. I am profoundly honored to be a part of this endeavor.”
- Laurie Sperry
PhD, School of Education & Human Development