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UMass Dartmouth Teams with Evergreen Center and Beacon Services to Enhance Training of Professionals Working with Autistic Individuals

Initiative responds to growing numbers of children diagnosed with autism and behavioral disorders

Responding to a growing number of children diagnosed with autism, UMass Dartmouth, the Evergreen Center, and Behavioral Educational Assessment and Consultation (Beacon Services),  leading providers of education and services to individuals with behavioral disorders, will announce an educatonal partnership that will respond to the shortage of professionals in the field. The announcement will take place Thursday, October 2, at 1:15 p.m. on the 3d Floor of the Foster Administration Building at UMass Dartmouth.

Under a collaborative agreement, the University will offer a Master's Degree in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and  a Post-Graduate Behavior Analyst Certificate to Evergreen and Beacon staff and others in the field.  Graduates will be eligible to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and will be capable of offering the kind of high quality services needed by children with autism and other behavior disorders. Critical to the UMass Dartmouth program will be a field work component.

"There is great need for certified behavior analysts working in the fields of mental health, developmental disabilities, autism and special education,'' said Dr. Robert F. Littleton Jr., founder of the Evergreen Center. "There is a broad consensus that interventions based on ABA represent the best practice with regard to autism treatment, and we are pleased to join with UMass Dartmouth and its outstanding faculty to provide this high quality education to our staff."

"Central to our mission as a public university is responding to challenges here in the Commonwealth,'' UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "With this agreement, we are joining with Evergreen  and Beacon to increase the number of professionals qualified to serve people with autism. The result will be a better quality of life for individuals and families facing difficult challenges."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network released data in 2007 that found about 1 in 150, 8 year-old children had autism.  This prevalence rate has risen from 1 in 5,000 live births in the 1980's.

Locally, school districts in Massachusetts have experienced a significant increase in the number of children with autism requiring services, as well as an increase in the number of children who present with a range of challenging behaviors.  

According to the Behavior Analysts Certification Board, there are about 3,600 BCBA's worldwide.  Massachusetts ranks in the top three states in the nation in BCBAs per capita with 350 BCBAs, which experts believe is not nearly enough to serve the growing population of people with autism and behavioral disorders.

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  30-Sep-2008
Department:   News & Public Information

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