Department of Psychology

Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism

In collaboration with the Center for Autism, the Psychology department is now offering a three course (9 credit) sequence that provides a comprehensive overview of autism spectrum disorders and methods for effectively intervening with this population, the Certificate of Graduate Studies (CSD) in Autism.

Autism I introduces students to autism spectrum disorders and the science of behavior and applied behavior analysis. Course contents includes the biological bases for the disorder as well as philosophical and historical perspectives. Procedures used in behavior assessment as well as features of quality research are discussed, along with scientific and professional ethics and standards of practice.

Autism II provides students with an in-depth knowledge of the empirically-validated techniques used to treat individuals with autism. This course highlights programmatic efforts to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease challenging behaviors and to design interventions that permit individuals to successfully navigate in a variety of environments. Cultural and ethnic issues are also discussed.

Autism III engages students in a practicum experience with individuals on the autism spectrum in a human service agency setting. Students participate in a structured sequence of supervised activities implementing appropriate interventions using applied behavior analysis strategies with individuals who have autism spectrum disorders. Also included are practical and ethical issues related to the application of behavioral procedures.

The three-course sequence provides the credit bearing coursework to partially meet the education and the supervised experience requirements necessary for admission to the licensing examination for certified behavior analyst assistant (CBAA) with the New York State Education Department.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Individuals with autism may have difficulty communicating and interacting with others, and may exhibit repetitive behaviors as well as restricted interests or activities. Symptoms of autism are generally recognized within the first two years of life and can range from mild to more severe. Autism Spectrum Disorder occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is about 4.5 times more common among boys than among girls. About 1 in 68 children has been identified with ASD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).

Students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) present unique challenges to educators trying to plan effective instructional programs (Lovannone et al., 2003). Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published over the past 50 years have documented applied behavior analysis as the standard of care in this disorder (Dawson et al., 2010; Peters-Scheffer et al., 2011). However, few educators and community professionals have received formal training in implementation of evidence-based behavioral interventions (Loiacono & Valenti, 2010). A goal of the Certificate of Graduate Studies in Autism program is for more individuals to receive training to better understand autism specific characteristics, the core concepts and principles of behavior science, and to support qualified personnel in providing effective interventions to children with ASD for improved outcomes

Additional information on the CGS in Autism as well as other programs offered by the Center for Autism can be found at www.albany.edu/autism.

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