Professor, Special Education Program
Cihak brings 20 years of experience in teacher education in the area of special education as both a teacher and teacher trainer. He has taught students with high- and low-incidence disabilities at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He has published over 40 data-based research studies, chapters, monographs, and manuals focused on remedying classroom-based problems associated with academic and social/behavioral problems of individuals with severe disabilities and autism resulting in greater competency, community access, and acceptance. His research interests include the use of effective instructional and behavioral strategies, specifically video technologies for improving educational, functional, and social/communicative outcomes for students in classroom and community settings.
Cihak is also currently examining instructional technologies (e.g., apps, augmented reality) to facilitate the acquisition, generalization, and maintenance of functional digital media skills to improve access and independence. These efforts require high levels of trust, cooperation, and formal approval from school systems, teachers, parents, and children. He prides himself on the connections that he has made and the support systems that inevitably comes with successful collaboration.
As one of the primary investigators on the FUTURE Post-Secondary Education Program at UT, Cihak was instrumental in the development of a two-year program for college students with intellectual disabilities and autism. He was active in assuring that students with intellectual disabilities and autism had access to college courses, work internships, and opportunities on campus for the first time in UT’s history.
Cihak regularly presents at national, state, and local conferences on issues related to the education of children and adolescents with disabilities. He has been a member of CEC’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities since the 1990s and currently serves on the editorial board for Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Journal of Special Education and Technology and is an associate editor for The Journal of Evidence Based Practices for Schools.