Chapman University’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability has signed a new five-year agreement with the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children’s to license the Families, Agencies, and Schools Together (FAST) program. This partnership will allow TPI’s demonstrated FAST program to be implemented at the new CHOC Children’s center.

FAST Program Model

Originally developed in 2012 by faculty within the Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies and TPI, the FAST program was designed to assist schools and families of children with disabilities as they navigate the school system, from preschool through college. Often embedded within neurodevelopmental centers, the program helps families, schools, and community service providers collaborate with one another in order to build an effective, high-quality learning plan for school-age children.

Services for families and youth include informational workshops and both individual and small group consultations. FAST also offers professional development opportunities and personalized consultation for school districts and community service providers.

FAST services, which are available at no cost to districts or families, are designed to create a positive environment for schools and families. By fostering communication and collaboration, FAST enables families and schools to determine an optimal learning environment for students with disabilities.

Ultimately, the goal is to serve as a resource and help school districts and community providers support the needs of the youth and the families they serve.

TPI Model Expansion

The Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children’s in Orange, California officially opened on January 24, 2020. From early diagnosis to advanced therapy, the Thompson Autism Center provides a central location for families to access autism-related services.

The agreement with the CHOC Thompson Autism Center marks the continued growth of the FAST program model. Customized versions of the FAST program have also been implemented in partnership with the UCI Health’s Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC).

As at the other centers that offer FAST program services, Attallah College graduate students will have the opportunity to serve as interns in the FAST@CHOC program. The FAST program director and Chapman interns will serve in an ombuds role, working with the center’s staff, families, and schools to facilitate the best education program for the student/client/patient.

In a joint statement, the Thompson Autism Center’s at CHOC Children’s Executive Director Matthew Lazari and Medical Director Thomas Megerian is looking forward to the full implementation of the FAST@CHOC program:

“The Thompson Autism Center at CHOC is grateful and honored to partner with Chapman University to create the FAST@CHOC program. The opportunity to provide consistent, coordinated, and collaborative care for families across home-based services, medical care, and educational programming will maximize the benefits for all of the children we serve.”


Display Image at Top: TPI’s Director Dr. Don Cardinal, Associate Director Dr. Audri Sandoval Gomez, and Research Director Dr. Meghan Cosier participated in the Thompson Autism Center’s ribbon cutting on January 24.