Texas Tech is leading an initiative to train K-12 special education teachers across the state.
Nearly 800 special education teachers and professionals received training in the first two years of Project TEDD: Training Educators in Dual Diagnosis, a Texas Tech University-led initiative to address a state-wide need for K-12 personnel who specialize in working with students who have a dual diagnosis of an intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) and a mental health condition.
During the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years, Texas Tech's Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities provided workshops to 125 special education teachers and professionals, equipping them with skills for recognizing, understanding and working with individuals with a dual diagnosis.
Taking a “train-the-trainer” approach, the workshops also provided participants with skills to train others. The initial group of 125 trainees went on to train 656 more educators, parents and related service professionals in their school districts, meaning Project TEDD has reached a total of 781 people and is well on its way toward meeting its five-year goal of 2,400 people trained.
“Through the hard work of our participating educators, Project TEDD has resulted in exponential growth of expertise and renewed focus on the issue of dual diagnosis in Texas,” said Stephanie Barbre, project manager for Project TEDD. “It has been a very challenging couple of years for many of our participants as we adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. We are incredibly thankful for their perseverance and their support in our work.”
Project TEDD was launched in 2020 with a five-year goal of partnering with all 20 Education Service Centers (ESCs) in Texas to deliver direct training to 400 special education professionals who will themselves provide training to at least 2,000 other individuals.
In year one, training was directly provided to 27 professionals in ESC Region 17 in West Texas. In the second year, 98 special education professionals were trained in ESC Regions 1-5, which include the Gulf Coast and South Texas regions.
Applications are now open for year three of the program, which will cover ESC Regions 6-10. All remaining ESC Regions will be covered in years four and five. The program is open to anyone who works in K-12 special education, including teachers, licensed specialists in school psychology (LSSPs), educational diagnosticians, school counselors, special education counselors and behavior specialists.
“Project TEDD is a step in the right direction in providing the much-needed support and training, not only to our district and region, but to the entire state of Texas,” said Kristina Cranick, a participating educator from Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District. “This program helps us identify students with a dual diagnosis and provide training for behavior and academic support, all while creating a more collaborative team of families and professionals.”
I/DDs are severe, chronic disabilities that occur before the age of 22, such as autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy. A dual diagnosis refers to individuals with an I/DD who concurrently experiences a mental health condition.
"There are nearly 500,000 children and adults in Texas with an I/DD, and this population is diagnosed with a mental health condition at two-to-three times the rate of the general population," said Devender Banda, director of Project TEDD and a professor of special education at Texas Tech. "Despite how common it is, many children with a dual diagnosis and their families feel misunderstood or are denied certain services. Project TEDD is a collaborative effort to change that. All children deserve an opportunity to reach their full potential so they can lead purposeful, fulfilling lives and make positive contributions to their communities.”
Project TEDD is coordinated by Texas Tech and funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). The mission of TCDD is to create change where all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.