College of Communication & Education

$1.2 million grant to provide access and equity to children with special needs

An exciting $1.2 million grant has funded the Training in Interdisciplinary Education and Research (TIER) project, and will support a five-year collaborative Masters of Arts degree project for students across the Adapted Physical Education (APE) and Communication Sciences and Disorders programs (CMSD).

 The grant will provide support for up to 40 Chico State students to work with school-aged individuals who have high-intensity needs, which include significant physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and significant emotional or behavioral disabilities.

According to research, the increased lack of effective communication and physical activity for individuals with disabilities can lead to additional health concerns such as increased pain, fatigue, weight gain, depression, and a decrease in the ability to learn and perform activities of daily living (as compared to those without disabilities) (Rimmer, 2014).

The goal of the project is to teach master’s candidates to co-treat a student. For example, students will learn to treat a student with disabilities who presents both a speech impairment (CMSD) and cerebral palsy (APE) and plan collaborative activities using the Chico State Autism Clinic, the Speech and Hearing Clinic, and school-based practices.

Professors Rebecca Lytle (APE) and Jessika Lawrence (CMSD) will recruit student cohorts who will share the same core classes and monthly seminars, but will also take courses in their own respective disciplines. This is in order to provide fully-trained professionals who will work with special-needs students in the classroom.  

 “We are excited for the opportunities for students,” said Lawrence. “We’ve never had this opportunity for students to work together across disciplines.” 

The federally funded TIER program will launch in fall 2019. For more information, or to apply to the program, please contact Rebecca Lytle at 530-898-4298, or, or Jessika Lawrence at 530-898-4286, or

jessika lawrence
Professor Jessika Lawrence

rebecca lytle
Professor Rebecca Lytle