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Appears in:
Pages: 1362-1365
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain

USING TECHNOLOGY TO TRAIN BEHAVIORAL SPECIALISTS TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF RISING RATES OF AUTISM

C. Mandell1, R. Fleming2, R. Siegel1

1University of Massachusetts Lowell (UNITED STATES)
2Shriver Center-University of Masachsuetts Medical School (UNITED STATES)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) represents a class of related neurological disorders, typically diagnosed before the age of three. The most recent (2009) estimate of prevalence of ASD in the US is 1 in every 91 children. Prevalence data collected by the International Autism Epidemiology Network show that ASD has become a worldwide issue.

Children with ASD need intensive teaching and behavior management in order to learn critical developmental skills. The evidence-based best practice for treatment is applied behavior analysis, or simply behavioral intervention (BI). Research shows that BI should be begun as early as possible and is crucial for skill-based development. The growing international consensus for BI involves the recommendation that intervention professionals working with ASD be credentialed as Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), governed by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), which now supports certification in at least 15 countries.

Unfortunately, while the need for well-trained specialists is widely acknowledged, too many prospective students have been unable to find suitable programs. The Behavioral Intervention in Autism (BIA) program, a joint effort by the Shriver Center and the University of Massachusetts Lowell, stands as an example of how technology can be used to develop a rigorous program accessible to students around the world.

The BIA curriculum is unique in that it is targeted at an audience of “working-professionals” who are seeking to: (1) learn behavioral intervention content at a high level to effectively address the complex learning needs and behavioral challenges of children with ASD; and (2) use the blend of academic and applied content knowledge to pass a national certification exam that will qualify them as BCBAs.

The curriculum has been developed by specialists in the field and consists of five highly structured courses which have been built with a standard instructional design template to keep them uniform. This model permits instructors—all Ph.D. and BCBA—to concentrate completely on the teaching function. The courses also utilize online technology to emphasize a mastery approach to performance, with grading based on the accurate completion of a set number of content modules, and the courses incorporate assessments, application exercises, online video and Flash-based learning objects, and discussion board.

Despite the rigor of these graduate-level courses, our data show us that over the past 3½ years, with over 700 students admitted into the first course in our sequence, 90% pass that first course, with the overwhelming majority earning grades of A or A+. This percentage becomes even more remarkable because we offer the courses on essentially an “open admission” basis, simply requiring students to hold a bachelor’s degree in any field. Of those who move on to the second and third course, 92% are then able to continue to complete the entire course sequence. Our graduates’ success rate on the Behavioral Analyst certification exam has been over 92%, where the national pass rate is closer to 70%.

At this time, the UMASS-Lowell/Shriver program only comprises the educational coursework needed for certification. Our next challenge will be creation of an online supervision program to enable us to do even more to help the world meet the daunting challenges posed by rapidly-growing numbers of children worldwide who are being diagnosed with autism and related disorders.
@InProceedings{MANDELL2010USI,
author = {Mandell, C. and Fleming, R. and Siegel, R.},
title = {USING TECHNOLOGY TO TRAIN BEHAVIORAL SPECIALISTS TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF RISING RATES OF AUTISM },
series = {4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-5538-9},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {8-10 March, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {1362-1365}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Mandell AU - R. Fleming AU - R. Siegel
TI - USING TECHNOLOGY TO TRAIN BEHAVIORAL SPECIALISTS TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF RISING RATES OF AUTISM
SN - 978-84-613-5538-9/2340-1079
PY - 2010
Y1 - 8-10 March, 2010
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2010 Proceedings
SP - 1362
EP - 1365
ER -
C. Mandell, R. Fleming, R. Siegel (2010) USING TECHNOLOGY TO TRAIN BEHAVIORAL SPECIALISTS TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF RISING RATES OF AUTISM , INTED2010 Proceedings, pp. 1362-1365.
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