Helping parents help their children

KU’s long-distance intervention program assists parents of children with autism
KU researcher Linda Heitzman-Powell is using telemedicine to provide distance training to parents of children with autism.

Ten years ago, University of Kansas research psychologist Linda Heitzman-Powell and researcher Jay Buzhardt had an idea to help parents of children with autism who live in communities without access to behavioral therapists: Train those parents remotely, via live TV and online modules.

That idea has evolved into the Online and Applied System for Intervention Skills (OASIS), a clinical service that uses telemedicine to help families, regardless of where they live.

OASIS teaches learning strategies and behavior management skills. But unlike some intervention programs that are solely for the child, OASIS teaches the parents effective ways to interact with their child. Based at KU Medical Center, the program consists of 12 to 16 weekly sessions via video conference or in person, as well as online training.

“Telemedicine enables us to be anywhere,” Heitzman-Powell said. “This is a great way to reach underserved areas and help families who wouldn’t otherwise have access to this type of treatment.”

Statewide reach
  • The Online and Applied System for Intervention Skills (OASIS) program uses telemedicine to help families in dozens of communities, including Emporia, Hays and Salina.
  • KU researchers are translating and adapting OASIS for Kansas’ growing Hispanic population.
  • OASIS is offered through the Center for Child Health & Development at KU Medical Center. The CCHD offers statewide services to children and families who need evaluation, diagnosis, and follow-up for autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, Fragile X and behavioral issues.
  • Linda Heitzman-Powell and Jay Buzhardt are affiliated with the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project through KU’s Life Span Institute. Heitzman-Powell is also affiliated with the KU Medical Center.