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Ching-Yi Liao is a doctoral student in Special Education at Texas A&M University and the Project Coordinator for Coach 2 Communicate (C2C), a parent-directed treatment project to teach parents and caregivers with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and complex communication needs across Texas. The C2C project is under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Ganz, an affiliated faculty member with the Center on Disability and Development.

Ching-Yi was selected as an outstanding scholar through an internationally competitive review process. Dr. Jennifer Ganz nominated Ching-Yi as well as the department chair and college dean.

The DRDSS inquiry question for the program is “What makes for excellence in special education research?” The series of three seminars will begin in early December with Dr. Sarah Powell, of the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Powell is the 2018 DR Distinguished Early Career Award recipient. Subsequent seminars will be conducted by two leading scholars and past-presidents of DR: Dr. Karen Harris, of Arizona State University, and Dr. Bryan Cook, of the University of Virginia. As a member of this year’s cohort of DR Doctoral Scholars you will have the opportunity to engage in lively conversations about the challenges faced by new scholars in cultivating a research agenda considered to be of excellent quality.

Ching-Yi holds Master degrees in Special Education and Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has more than 10 years of experience working in general and special education. Her research interests are communication interventions in individuals with ASD and culturally responsive parent coaching. She is currently focused more on coaching culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional (CLDE) caregivers of children with ASD on how to use evidence-based behavioral and communication strategies.

In 2016, Dr. Ganz started C2C that which was awarded from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Dr. Ganz gave Ching-Yi this learning opportunity to work with this project. She received instruction and feedback from Dr. Ganz to write the grant proposal, to coach parents with individuals with ASD, to design and conduct research, and to coordinate this project. C2C provides coaching sessions to each project participant. Coaches discuss with parents, teach them how to use strategies working with their children, and give them feedback and positive reinforcement for their work.

During the project implementation, Ching-Yi heard from some CLED parents that it’s hard for them to get sufficient service and support they need for their children with autism because of the differences in language or culture. The C2C program believes it would be beneficial to coach these parents by using their native languages and their cultural backgrounds. Also, because of her cultural background, she is curious how social and cultural factors affect caregiver training and caregiver-child interactions in families who have children with ASD. However, few studies have been reported this field. Therefore, this year the C2C project started a single-case study about culturally responsive parent coaching for CLDE caregivers of children with ASD to evaluate parents’ implementation of intervention elements and children’s communication outcomes. With a focus on cultural factors, they expect to understand what coaches can do to help CELD parents effectively implement learned strategies with their children with ASD.