Meeting a Need
Behavior Analysis Comes to Touro
“One in 59 children today is diagnosed with some form of autism, and so the need for qualified professionals who can assess and work with this population has never been greater,” explains Karrie Lindeman, Assistant Professor and Program Director, Behavior Analysis, at Touro's School of Health Sciences' Department of Behavioral Sciences. To meet this need, Touro began offering an Advanced Certificate program in Behavior Analysis (ABA) and graduated its first class of behavior analysts in 2018. Now these behavior analysts are applying their skills and using their credentials to help individuals who have been diagnosed with autism, autism spectrum or related disorders.
The 27-credit course of study, which is an advanced post-master’s certificate, can be completed in as few as three semesters. The program involves both classroom work as well as 150 hours in the field and students receive state and national certifications: New York State Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Explains Professor Lindeman, “The curriculum covers theory, training and supervision in behavior analysis and involves both an in-class curriculum as well as training and supervision in behavior analysis by faculty.”
FASCINATED BY ABA
Victoria Ruocco first learned about ABA as a master’s student at Touro. “I took a behavior class with Professor Lindeman and was immediately fascinated by the concept,” Ruocco recalls. “I was excited by the idea of using ABA-based interventions to treat people with developmental disabilities.”
The first year the ABA Certification was offered at Touro, Ruocco, then a school psychologist at the Baldwin Union Free School District, enrolled. “I wanted the knowledge and training to best help the children diagnosed with autism, autism spectrum and related disorders who I saw in my role as school psychologist, as well as the ones I worked with privately in their homes,” she explains. When Ruocco discovered that Professor Lindeman, the person who had originally ignited her enthusiasm for ABA, would be heading the program she was thrilled.
THEORY, TRAINING AND SUPERVISION
“The classes focus on theory, best practices and developing strategies for helping individuals to increase desired behaviors while decreasing undesired ones,” explains Professor Lindeman. Students study approaches for taking data, which involves learning to observe the language and behavior of children, teens and adults. They are also trained to work in a range of settings including ones that are center-based or in an individual’s most familiar environment, such as the home.
With her coursework completed, Ruocco still keeps in touch with Professor Lindeman as questions arise in her fieldwork. “I know I can reach out to Professor Lindeman for guidance and often shoot her emails with questions,” explains Ruocco. When the required hours of fieldwork for certification are completed, Ruocco will be practicing as a behavior analyst privately and hopes to work in this capacity in a school setting as well. “My passion has always been serving people. This certification is providing me with the skills and credentials to help a child with autism, autism spectrum or related disorders to live a meaningful life."