Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science focused on understanding the relations between behavior and the environment to bring about meaningful and socially important changes. Behavior refers to a wide range of skills and actions and essentially consists of anything a person says or does. For example, behavior could be playing at the park, asking for a cookie, making a choice between which book to read, brushing teeth, and a wide range of other actions. Treatments based on ABA focus on teaching individuals the skills necessary to be as independent as possible in their home, school, and community. Assessments and treatment are developed based on the principles of learning theory and available research, and each is modified to meet the specific needs of each individual. For all assessments and treatments observable behavior is measured through direct observation, and data are collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the procedures and to track the individual’s progress. ABA methods have been used to teach a wide range of skills to individuals with and without developmental disabilities. These skills include, but are not limited to, communication, play, academics, social, motor, and self-help skills. In addition, ABA interventions have been demonstrated to be effective in decreasing inappropriate or harmful behavior, such as self-injury, aggression, property destruction, feeding problems, etc. In fact, in 1999 a report on mental health prepared by the Surgeon General of the United States stated, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”
For more information on the science of applied behavior analysis and its clinical applications, and to visit the websites of some international and local organizations, view Resources.
The Behavioral Psychology Program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) provides a highly specialized service focused on providing behavioral assessment, consultation, and intervention services to individuals ages 2 through adult with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities (including Autism Spectrum Disorder) using methods based on applied behavior analysis (ABA). Services are also provided to children who do not currently have a diagnosis, but display problem behaviors and/or skills deficits that are negatively impacting their daily functioning.
Some examples of the types of challenging behaviors addressed include:
- Aggression (Physical and Verbal)
- Self-Injurious Behavior
- Property Destruction
- Disruptive Behaviors
- Stereotypic Behaviors
- Ritualistic Behaviors
- Adaptive Skills Deficits
- Academic Skills Deficits
- Social Skills Deficits
- Communication Deficits
- Attention Deficits
- Eating Difficulties
- Sleep Difficulties
- Toileting Skills Difficulties
- Co-morbid Mood or Anxiety Difficulties
- Impulse Control Difficulties
- Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors
- Selective Mutism
For treatment addressing behavior problems; functional behavior assessment(s) are conducted to identify the conditions under which the problem behaviors occur and the reasons they persist. These results guide the development of individualized behavioral interventions. For treatment addressing skills deficits; procedures are used to identify the area of need, identify effective teaching procedures, and develop an appropriate data collection system to measure change.
Some examples of the types of diagnoses we provide services to include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Developmental Delays
- Language Disorders
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Seizure Disorders
- Tic Disorders
- Disruptive Behavior Disorders
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Learning Disorders
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Co-morbid Anxiety and Depression
ON-SITE BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT, TREATMENT, AND PARENT-TRAINING
Individualized behavioral analyses are conducted to understand the numerous variables that may be influencing and supporting problem behavior and/or the areas of specific skill deficits. Individualized behavioral intervention(s) are developed and evaluated to decrease problem behavior and increase appropriate/adaptive behavior. Training is provided to families, school personnel, and other service providers to ensure understanding and proper implementation of the interventions. This service is clinic-based, and provided as frequently as needed (i.e., daily, weekly, or monthly). This service is funded either through Medicaid, Medicare, some private insurances, self-pay, or school contracts.
OFF-SITE BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT, TREATMENT, AND CONSULTATION
Individualized behavioral analyses are conducted to understand the numerous variables that may be influencing and supporting problem behavior and/or the areas of specific skill deficits. Individualized behavioral intervention(s) are developed and evaluated to decrease problem behavior and increase appropriate/adaptive behavior. Training and consultation is provided to school personnel, service providers, and families to ensure understanding of the factors contributing to the problem behaviors and the proper implementation of the interventions. This service is provided as frequently as needed (i.e., daily, weekly, or monthly) in the home and/or school settings. This service is funded through contracts with individual school districts or self-pay.
TRAININGS AND WORKSHOPS
Trainings and workshops are provided to parents, school personnel, and other service providers in the region to advance knowledge in the understanding and application of applied behavior analysis (ABA) towards behavior reduction and skill acquisition for individuals with intellectual and/or other developmental disabilities. Examples of seminar topics include; Autism Spectrum Disorder, behavior management strategies, conducting functional behavioral assessments, and developing and implementing behavioral intervention plans and skill acquisition plans. This service is funded through contracts with individual agencies, organizations, and school districts.
Westchester Institute for Human Development’s Behavioral Psychology training program provides superior professional training in pediatric, adolescent, and adult behavioral services for individuals with developmental disabilities. The professionals in the Behavioral Psychology program have the highest level of expertise and are committed to providing training for current and future professionals, academics, social, motor, and self-help skills.
TRAINING FOR SCHOOL PERSONNEL
Topics may include:
- Assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior
- Collecting and analyzing academic data
- Collecting and analyzing behavioral data
- Curriculum-based assessment
- Discrete trials teaching
- Functional behavioral assessments
- Functional analysis
- General classroom management
- Inclusion strategies for students with PDD, Autism, Asperger’s
- Individual social skills assessments
- Overviews of developmental disabilities
- Behavioral supports for classrooms and schools
- Behavioral supports programs for individuals
- Prompting strategies
- Reinforcement assessments
- Teaching social skills
- Toilet training
- Using behavioral interventions effectively and with integrity
- Using Excel to demonstrate academic and behavioral outcomes
TRAINING FOR THE COMMUNITY
Parent training, community awareness training, and training for professionals in the community are available. These training services can be arranged as continuing education for board certified behavior analysts or supervision hours for individuals pursuing board certification. Topics covering all areas of applied behavior analysis including behavioral teaching procedures as well as behavior reduction are available.
TRAINING FOR UNDERGRADUATE, GRADUATE, PRE- AND POST-DOCTORAL STUDENTS
Training programs are available at the undergraduate, graduate, pre- and post-doctoral levels.
UNDERGRADUATE AND MASTER’S LEVEL STUDENTS
Students at the undergraduate and master’s level can receive training and research experience within the behavioral psychology program for practicum hours related to his/her program as well as for professional development alone. Programs are designed to fit an individual’s interests within the range of services provided by the program. Hours of service per week can vary from 5-20 hours per week, depending on the interest of the individual student.
PRE-AND POST-DOCTORAL TRAINING PROGRAM
The Behavioral Psychology program provides assessment and treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults with behavior problems. The program provides training in applied behavior analysis and developmental disabilities. The training goal of the behavioral psychology program is to provide a high level of supervised training experiences for professionals who are committed to working with individuals with developmental disabilities and behavior problems. Training occurs through supervised experiences in the outpatient services location, schools, residential facilities, and the homes of the individuals that we serve. Fellows completing our program are well qualified to enter clinical, medical, or academic settings.
SUPERVISION AND TRAINING
Pre-doctoral interns and post-doctoral fellows have the opportunity to develop an individualized training curriculum in conjunction with their training supervisor. Fellowships include a combination of clinical, supervisory, and/or research experiences. Fellows receive semi-annual written evaluations and a minimum of two hours of individual face to face supervision per week. In addition to individualized supervision, the fellow is actively involved in program meetings for research design, review, and preparation as well as clinical case review. Post-doctoral fellows, as well as pre-doctoral interns, attend LEND training presentations one day per week. For more information on LEND click here.
Post-doctoral fellows and pre-doctoral interns have numerous professional development opportunities including attending conferences and trainings along with his/her fellow trainees and/or program staff. In addition, opportunities for working alongside his/her training supervisor are numerous throughout the training year.
Postdoctoral fellows and pre-doctoral interns will participate in clinical research related to applied behavior analysis through both routine clinical activities within the behavioral psychology program as well as through a clinical research program that has been established in conjunction with a local school serving students with special needs. Fellows and interns will also have the possibility of pursuing his/her own research projects on site with guidance from his/her supervisor.