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Northern Michichan Univeristy to Open an Applied Behavior Analysis Center

Northern Michigan Univerity’s psychology has plans to open an applied behavior analysis center to address the shortage of services in the area for children on the autism spectrum and with other developmental disabilities.

Applied behavior analysis is used to develop language, social, academic, and living skills in kids ages 0 through 18 on the spectrum. It is also used to help decrease maladaptive behaviors that are often exhibited by children with developmental disorders, like self-injury.

“The U.P. is significantly under-serviced for Autism Spectrum Disorder,” said NMU psychology professor Jacob Daar. “There are only 10 Board Certified Behavior Analysts in the entire Upper Peninsula and not all of them work with individuals with autism. This proposed center at NMU will provide Upper Peninsula residents with access to high-quality assessment and therapy at no cost.”

Many studies have shown that the earlier children are exposed to behavioral intervention, the better it is at reducing some of the behaviors associated with it in adulthood.

“The goal of intervention is to architect a learning environment where the child is motivated to engage with the therapist and improve functional living skills,” Daar said. “This is accomplished through the use of structured activities, natural environment teaching and the provision of positive and meaningful feedback.”

Currently, NMU offers a degree in psychology and behavior analysis at the bachelor’s level, and a master’s degree in ABA. Now, NMU will also offer the opportunity for students to work towards other levels of certification with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

According to Adam Prus, professor and head of the psychology department, “The courses and supervised hours can be offered online, meaning students anywhere can become a Registered Behavior Technician through NMU’s program.”

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