Through a contract with the Republic of Palau, Ministry of Education (MOE), Special Education Program, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon, Interim Director, supported the local partnership between the MOE, Ministry of Health and Human Services (MHHS), and Palau Parents Empowered (PPE) in January. The partners hosted a series of sessions intended to increase the knowledge and skills of community members and leaders, parents, MHHS Family Health Unit personnel, and MOE personnel in the area of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This partnership effort reinforced the belief that “in collaboration with everyone involved in a child’s life, the child can reach his/her full potential,” including children with ASD. Irina Quebles, Psy.D., ABPP, Guam CEDDERS consultant, conducted the awareness and training series, which included:

  • January 18 full day general session, “Overview of ASD,” intended to build awareness about ASD. Dr. Quebles presented on the what, when, why, and how of ASD, including considerations for interventions.
  • January 19 session designed for school teams comprised of school administrators, parents of students with ASD, MHHS personnel, and special education specialists and related service providers. The session built upon the general session held on January 18 focusing on the technical assistance needs of each school team for providing services to children with ASD.
  • January 20 individual meetings in the morning with parents of children with ASD. These meetings were designed as a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Quebles to discuss the individual needs of parents in supporting their child with ASD.
  • January 18-20 afternoon sessions, “Identifying Children with ASD,” with MOE special education specialists and MHHS Bureau of Public Health Services screeners. The purpose of these afternoon sessions was to build knowledge and skills in the administration, scoring interpretation, and reporting of the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale, 3rd Edition (GARS-3). Participants also drafted Palauan translations of the instructions and scoring rubric to ensure the GARS-3 administrators have a better understanding of the items being reviewed and scored.

Overwhelmingly, participant feedback at the end of each session indicated the session was relevant and useful, with an expressed interest in continuing the awareness and training sessions to increase understanding and supports for children with ASD and their families in Palau.