MSSU to create an Applied Behavior Analysis Center | Local News


Missouri Southern State University will build an Applied Behavior Analysis Center on its campus.

Upon completion, the center will provide hands-on learning opportunities for MSSU students studying behavioral health and will be a resource for families of children with autism or social, emotional and learning disabilities.

“The demand for facilities to help children with autism is huge,” Lorinda Hackett, dean of the School of Education, said in a statement. “There are many places that offer services, but it could be a real collaborative effort for these organizations to work together and provide an organized path to services – in addition to the clinic and the degrees that we will be offering.”

Construction is scheduled to begin next month on the center, which will be built on the second floor of Taylor Hall. The 4,200 square foot section of the building previously housed the Child Development Center, which in 2017 was renamed Lion Cub Academy and moved elsewhere on campus.

When completed early next year, the center will include a sensory room, parent consultation and resource room, independent living skills center, outdoor learning space and skill-based rooms. social and therapy. It will serve around 40 children.

Missouri Southern professor Ayla Schmick is leading her behavioral analysis course on Wednesday. Globe | Laurie Sisk

“Our hope is that it is focused on using applied behavior analysis in that we can use these services with clients who have autism spectrum disorder” and similar disabilities, said Ayla Schmick, professor psychology assistant. “Really, the hope is that we can improve their lives by focusing on their behavior.”

The center could also be used as a meeting space for behavior specialists registered in the region to collaborate, as well as a resource center for parents and families to visit for conversations with providers and to get answers to questions. their questions, Schmick said.

About autism disorders

According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, autism spectrum disorders refer to a wide range of conditions characterized by difficulty in social interactions, difficult and repetitive behaviors, and difficulty speaking and communicating. The extent and severity of symptoms can vary from mild impairment to significant cognitive, behavioral and physical impairment.

Two years ago, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 1 in 59 children in Missouri were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The prevalence of autistic disorders has increased by around 60% since 2000, although public health officials noted that it is not clear whether the increase is due to better detection and reporting of the disorders, actual increase in disorders in children, or both.

“Autism is increasing at a rapid rate, and there are more children who need services than there are providers,” Schmick said. “In southwest Missouri, the demand is so high that some establishments have wait lists of several years. That was really the driving force behind it.”

Research suggests that early intervention is the key to treating autism. Early diagnosis and interventions for autism – as early as 2 or 3 years of age – are more likely to have major positive long-term effects on symptoms and later skills, and guidelines suggest starting a Developmental and behavioral intervention as soon as an autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed or suspected, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In the new Missouri Southern center, students studying applied behavior analysis through the psychology department could play an important role, said Holly Hackett, associate professor who chairs the department. Students will be able to use what they have learned in their classes and apply it in a real way in the clinic as they work towards certification in the field, she said.

“Our students have the opportunity to have an educational experience that they would not otherwise have,” she said. “Our students obtain the certifications that are in great demand in the job market and can do their clinical internship.”

MSSU to create an Applied Behavior Analysis Center

Missouri Southern sophomore Trinity Hawkins takes notes during Professor Ayla Schmick’s behavioral analysis class on Wednesday at MSSU. Globe | Laurie Sisk

The total cost of the project is estimated at $ 470,519.47, which will be covered by a higher education child care grant administered by the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Schmick said the university is still in the process of determining a pricing structure for the new center, although it is likely to be similar to the one already in place for families using the Lion Cub Academy.


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