Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism

The mission of the Esteves School of Education is to prepare highly effective educators, school counselors, and school leaders who believe in full inclusion, who value diversity, who are reflective, and who are knowledgeable about best practices. Therefore, we ask Sage educators, counselors, and leaders to consider two essential questions throughout their studies and field experiences: Who am I in the lives of those with whom I work? Who am I in the life of my educational community?  We expect all Sage candidates to demonstrate leadership and create optimal educational outcomes for all learners.

The motto of Russell Sage College, “To Be, To Know, To Do,” informs the educational purpose where the common effort is to translate learning into action and application, within a framework that recognizes the obligation of educated persons to lead and serve their communities.  In the Esteves School of Education, this motto is extended to form the basis for our programs.

Conceptual Framework

An underlying structure in a professional education unit that gives conceptual meanings through an articulated rationale to the unit’s operation, and provides direction for programs, courses, teaching, candidate performance, faculty scholarship and service, and unit accountability.  T-BIRDS - the key concepts of the conceptual framework:

  • Technology: a vehicle for learners to acquire information, practice skills, use higher order thinking skills, and participate in collaborative projects.
  • Best Practices: the pedagogical knowledge, skills and practices that have been shown through research and evaluation to be effective and/or efficient and that candidates use to teach all learners.
  • Inclusion and Diversity: the ability to collaborate and team with other professionals in developing and implementing strategies to accommodate diverse learners; the ability to develop solutions that will enhance the learning experiences of all children; and, the ability of candidates to be aware of and sensitive to diversity issues and to use culturally and socially responsive pedagogy.
  • Reflection: the ability to reflect and assess one’s own effectiveness, and to systematically make adjustments to improve and strengthen areas needing attention.
  • Dispositions: the demonstration of respect for learner differences, commitment to own personal growth, and engagement in short and long-term planning.
  • Service Learning: the strategies that integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich children’s learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.

These elements are interrelated and integrated to prepare teacher candidates to assume roles as reflective facilitators of learning, combining knowledge and skills to exemplify those qualities and dispositions that characterize effective teachers.

Center for Applied Behavior Analysis (CABA) and the M.S. Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism

Are you interested in working with people diagnosed with autism?  Do you want to learn effective strategies that will make a difference to children and adults with this disorder?  Then the Sage Graduate Schools’ Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism is for you.

The program follows a “scientist-practitioner” model of training. This means that all instruction is grounded in the scientific approach towards studying behavior, as espoused by B. F. Skinner. You will learn about research design, the importance of empirical evidence, and the focus on experimentation to discern causes of behavior. This knowledge will be coupled with a thorough training in the only therapeutic approach to the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders that has empirical research to support its effectiveness with this population.

This program is delivered completely via distance learning, utilizing online delivery of classes, as well as optional clinical supervision delivered by geographically close BCBA supervisors or through distance supervision (e.g., webcam observation).

The goals of the MS program are: (1) to prepare students to work with persons with autism, (2) to provide each student with the educational and skill competence necessary to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and (3) to increase the number of professionals who have behavioral skills.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is rapidly becoming the most frequently diagnosed childhood disorder. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a branch of psychology rooted in the application of science to the study of human behavior, is a special therapy that has been shown to be effective in reducing the impact of autism spectrum disorders.

Your studies will combine two tracks. You will thoroughly study Applied Behavior Analysis, both the conceptual underpinnings as well as the skills necessary to effect behavioral change. You will learn strategies for defining and assessing behaviors, development of instructional goals that are measurable, antecedent strategies to promote learning, use of consequences to effect positive change, and rules for determining success and mastery. You will learn the procedures and strategies for dealing with language development, abnormal behavioral patterns, and socialization issues. If you choose to complete the practicum coursework, your application of these skills will be evaluated in clinical settings where you will be working with persons with autism and other disorders.

The second major focus of the program involves a deeper understanding of autism. You will learn about the etiology of the disorder and assessment strategies. You will understand how persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are affected in all areas of development, including language, learning, socialization, and personal behaviors. Different theoretical explanations of ASD will be covered, as well as different therapeutic approaches towards solving language, learning, and behavioral issues.

The on-line format of our coursework allows for a multi-media presentation of material. In each course, students are given varied access to proven learning tools for their own growth and improved comprehension: audio-visual presentations by professors, written tools, and active learning experiences such as fluency drills and practice in data collection. In one course, students may read and discuss articles on the treatment of autism from many different perspectives; in another course, students may watch video clips of children with autism engaged in different learning activities and apply different data analysis procedures. There is also an emphasis on research and evidence-based practice. Consistent with Sage’s approach that experience is the best teacher, students also practice designing and applying research principles. Applied behavior analysis is not only a treatment for autism, but an effective framework for teaching in general. Our professors and adjuncts are all behavior analysts who enjoy using our technology to teach students at every level. Our programs are broadly focused on training professionals in the best, evidence-based practices in the treatment of autism, while individualizing each students’ educational experience to maximize his/her experience of the program.

Faculty

Your faculty for the ABA courses are all Board Certified Behavior Analysts who have experience working with children and adults who are affected by autism spectrum disorders and will bring to your education the reality of working with this population. Clinical practicum supervisors are also Board Certified Behavior Analysts with broad experience in dealing with myriad challenges that afflict persons with autism.

Admission

Applicants for admission to the Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism program must meet the Sage Graduate School admission requirements:

  • Official transcripts of ALL previous undergraduate and/or graduate study
  • Two letters of reference (academic or professional)
  • Undergraduate courses in statistics, history and systems of psychology (not required of psychology majors), and at least three other behavioral sciences courses
  • Satisfactory “Personal Prospectus” statement regarding rationale for interest in the program
  • Current resume
  • International students must submit a WES report if previous degrees were obtained outside the United States.  This requirement is in additional to official transcripts.

Those who do not fully meet the requirements may be admitted on a provisional basis if they show promise for success in the program.

Degrees and Certificates

Classes

ABA 501 : Introduction to Behavior Analysis

This course is an introduction to applied behavior analysis.  As such it focuses on basic tasks that underpin design and implementation of educational and therapeutic interventions based on principles of behavior.  This course provides credit hours both towards educational qualifications required to sit for the behavior analysis certification examination and the Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.

ABA 502 : Introduction to the Practice of Behavior Analysis

This course provides an introduction ot the practice of behavior analysis, including an overview of the field of behavior analysis and the path of becoming a behavior analyst.  Students will learn about different areas important to the field such as professional conduct, ethics, interpreting and conducting research, abuse and neglect, improving client quality of life, and factors related to services for individuals with disabilities and their families.  Students will also learn about human growth and development, developmental and intellectual disabilities, psychiatric issues in individuals with ASD, and treatment throughout the lifespan.  Students are required to complete this course in their first semester.

ABA 503 : Concepts and Principles of Behavior Analysis

This course builds on work completed in ABA-501.  It is a continuation of the study of key concepts in the science of behavior and applied behavior analysis (ABA).  It focuses on synthesizing content from previous coursework and understanding how to apply previously learned concepts to implement discrete trial instruction, direct instruction, precision teaching, and personalized system of instruction.  It also addresses application o fantecedents and consequence in order to bring about behavior change.  You learn a variety of procedures to improve learning.  You also learn the ethical implications of and potential uses of punishment procedures.  This course provides credit hours toward educational qualifications required to sit for the behavior analysis certification exam.

Prerequisites

ABA 501 , ABA 502

ABA 505 : Behavioral Assessment

This course will concentrate on behavior change strategies based on principles discovered in the experimental analysis of behavior and replicated in the field of applied behavior analysis. Specific strategies for accelerating and decelerating various behaviors will be discussed, along with the theoretical underpinnings of each procedure. Issues of generalization of behavior change will be explored, as they relate to the ethical use of treatment methodologies.

Prerequisites

ABA 501 , ABA 502

ABA 510 : Clinical Practicum in ABA I

Certification as a Behavior Analyst requires supervision in a clinical setting.  This Clinical Supervision course provides a mechanism for students to obtain the required number of supervisory hours to eventually meet this particular requirement to sit for the Behavior Analysis certification examination.

Corequisites

ABA-501

ABA 511 : Clinical Practicum in ABA II

Certification as a Behavior Analyst requires supervision in a clinical setting. This Clinical Supervision course provides a mechanism for students to obtain the required number of supervisory hours to eventually meet this particular requirement to sit for the Behavior Analysis certification examination.

ABA 512 : Clinical Practicum in ABA III

Certification as a Behavior Analyst requires supervision in a clinical setting. This Clinical Supervision course provides a mechanism for students to obtain the required number of supervisory hours to eventually meet this particular requirement to sit for the Behavior Analysis certification examination.

ABA 513 : Clinical Practicum in ABA IV

Certification as a Behavior Analyst requires supervision in a clinical setting. This Clinical Supervision course provides a mechanism for students to obtain the required number of supervisory hours to eventually meet this particular requirement to sit for the Behavior Analysis certification examination.

ABA 515 : Introduction to Autism

An overview of the history of educational and clinical practice for children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), which has been characterized by disparate and sometimes contradictory approaches will be presented.  The significant differences in educational philosophy and approaches, the differences in practice that have been their basis in different philosophies about how children learn (e.g., behavioral versus development approaches), and the different beliefs about the most significant challenges faced by children with autistic spectrum disorders and their families will be explored.

ABA 517 : Maintenance of Client Records

This course describes the important elements in maintaining client records and complying with the legal requirements of documents.  This includes records maintenance and confidentiality, legal maintenance of medical, clinical, and educational records, APA record keeping guidelines for psychologists, APA code of conduct, guidelines for record keeping guidelines, HIPAA, FERPA, NYS laws, rules, and regulations, as well as other topics applicable to confidentiality and maintaining records.

ABA 520 : Interventions in Autism

This is typically the second course in the sequence of studying children with autism.  In this course, general approaches from psychiatric, medical and educational models are examined as related to the treatment of autism.

ABA 525 : Core Skills in Autism I

This course describes important procedures in behavior analysis for assessment, language development, teaching basic life skills, structured teaching, functional communication training, school participation, and social skills improvement.  Emphasis is on implementation of procedure for students with autism.

ABA 526 : Core Skills in Autism II

This course describes important procedures in behavior analysis for development of skills in individuals with autism, including: appropriate leisure activities, personal care, community skills, personal safety, academics, work skills, self-advocacy, and relationship with others.  Empashis is on implementation of procedure for students with autism.

ABA 530 : ABA New York State Internship

In this course, students demonstrate competence on tasks required by a behavior analyst.  In order to meet the requirements for New York State licensure, students are supervisd in a clinical setting providing clinical services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder.  This course provides a mechanism to obtain the required components of practicum/internship required to apply for state licensure as a behavior analyst while completing an approved Master's degree. 

Prerequisites

ABA 601 : Professional Practice in ABA

This course focuses on clinical practice of applied behavior analysis in a variety of settings. Many behavior analysts work as consultants in human service settings, and many others work in settings serving individuals who exhibit difficulties other than developmental disabilities. In addition to the basic principles of applied behavior analysis studied in previous courses, other issues important for behavior analysts to know about to be able to successfully consult and work in settings unrelated to developmental disabilities are examined.

Prerequisites

ABA 501 , ABA 502

ABA 603 : Professional Practice, Management, and Supervision for Behavior Analysts

This course focuses on the practice of applied behavior analysis in a variety of settings, with a strong emphasis on a behavioral approach to management and supervision. Behavior analysts frequently play administrative roles; thus, an understanding of evidence-based personnel management and supervision is important. This course will cover staff training and performance management. It will also focus on evidence-based and competency-based clinical supervision. Many behavior analysts work as consultants in human service settings, and many others work in settings serving individuals who exhibit difficulties other than developmental disabilities. In addition to the basic principles of applied behavior analysis studied in previous courses, there are other issues important for behavior analysts to know about to be able to successfully consult and work in settings both related and unrelated to developmental disabilities. This course will present these other issues as well. This course provides credit hours toward educational qualifications required to sit for the behavior analysis certification examination.

ABA 605 : Research in ABA

This course focuses on research design specific to the ethical study of human behavior, including a study of the characteristics of science and the rationale for having behavior as the focus of research.  Topics include measurement, specific research designs, and the development of a research proposal.  Research data from a variety of experiments are examined and interpreted.

Prerequisites

ABA 501 , ABA 502

ABA 607 : Ethical and Professional Conduct for Behavior Analysts

This course is devoted to the study of ethical and professional conduct as applied to Board Certified Behavior Analysts.  Course content is based on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Professional Disciplinary and Ethical Standards, and the BACB Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts.

Prerequisites

ABA 609 : Diversity in Education

This course is devoted to the study of diversity, specifically with how it relates to education.  The course will cover information related to diversity issues for the student population and the educator population.  Course content will include strategies for communicating with and supporting diverse populations.

Prerequisites

ABA 501 , ABA 502

ABA 610 : Advanced Topics in Applied Behavior Analysis

This course extends the study of applied behavior analysis from the first three courses in the sequence.  This course will concentrate on contemporary developments and issues in the field of applied behavioral analysis.  Applications of behavior change strategies in a variety of situational contexts and organizational settings, as well as recent developments in a variety of areas addressed in this course.  Issues of generalization of behavior change will be explored, as they relate to the ethical use of treatment methodologies.

Prerequisites

ABA-501, ABA-502 , ABA-505

ABA 615 : Research Seminar in ABA

Single-subject resarch design is explored in more depth, including potential outcomes of experiments, type 1 and type 2 errors, evaluation of single-subject designs, and visual analysis of outcome data.  Each of the major single-subject designs are examined in detail, including reversal designs, multiple-baseline designs, changing criterion designs, and mult-element designs.  These concepts are applied through independent work.

Prerequisites

ABA 617 : Radical Behaviorism and ABA

This advanced course will introduce students of applied behavior analysis to radical behaviorism, defined as the philosophy of the science of behavior.  Students will study the basic assumptions and presuppositions (e.g., the philosophical debate between free will and determinism) about what counts as behavior and its causes.  Students will examine the role of verbal behavior in environment-based (i.e., variations of behavior analysis) and organism-based (i.e., mentalism and cognitivism) interpretations ad explanations of behavior.  This will bring us to the root of many complex abstract and theoretical issues, such as interpreting the behavior of self and others, mentation, society, culture and behavioral resonsibility, ethics, rights and values.  Students will address these issues in terms of their implications for ABA practitioners in their everyday work.  The course will give historical perspective to the evolution and substance of radical behaviorism, and how it compares to other conceptual systems.

Prerequisites

ABA 620 : Test Strategies

This course provides students with specific strategies and content for preparing for an dtaking the certification exam by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.  Students will be guided to develop a personalized study plan that focuses on the task list content for which they will be responsible on the exam.

ABA 690 : Thesis I in ABA

This optional course introduces students to the line of research conducted by faculty and provides an opportunity to develop an original research question within that area of research.  Faculty approval is required to register for this course.

ABA 691 : Thesis II in ABA

This optional course provides an opportunity to develop a thesis proposal and an IRB proposal on the research question developed in Thesis I.  Faculty approval is required to register for this course.

ABA 692 : Thesis III in ABA

This optional course provides students with faculty and peer support in completing the project proposal in Thesis I and Thesis II.  Faculty approval is required to register for this course.  This course may be taken more than one time if necessary to complete data collection.

ABA 698 : Capstone in Autism Spectrum Disorders

This course describes important procedures in behavior analysis for development of skills in individuals with autism, including appropriate leisure activities, personal care, community skills, personal safety, academics, work skills, self-advocacy, and relationships with others.  Each set of procedures is introduced through current literature and training materials, and will use critical thinking activities to explore the implementation of these procedures for individuals with autism.  During this class you complete your final degree project.  This project consists of developing original materials that build into a portfolio related to a specific area in autism.

Prerequisites

ABA-501, ABA-610