MSU Billings Announces Institute for Neurodiversity and Applied Behavior Analysis | News

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MSU Billings press release

MSU BILLINGS NEWS—Montana State University Billings announces the launch of the Institute for Neurodiversity and Applied Behavior Analysis at the Montana Center for Inclusive Education (MCIE) on the university campus. The Institute will serve area children with mental, social and behavioral differences associated with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, similar mental health disorders and other behavioral disorders, by providing direct clinical support and telehealth.

“Our community does not have adequate access to necessary, evidence-based interventions for neurodiverse people, especially autistic people,” said Dr. Laura Nicholson, Medical Director of the Institute. Krystin Hussain, director of the Institute, explains that “Neurodiverse children, especially Autistic children, can thrive when they receive services early in life. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is individualized treatment based on evidence that improves children’s life outcomes by teaching them important skills, such as communication, social skills and life skills.She adds that the Institute will focus on delivering high quality ACA services to guide families towards a better quality of life.

Many providers in the community are currently not accepting Medicaid clients, preventing these children from receiving services when they need them most. MCIE Director Tom Manthey, Ph.D., notes that “many children with autism are not getting the early behavioral services they need, and this institute will provide that support in their own community.” Manthey adds that the Institute will reduce the likelihood of expensive and exclusive services for these children in the future.

The Institute plans to begin serving its clients this summer and will train applied behavior analysis practitioners on-site and remotely. Seven behavioral technicians will also be on staff to provide care and support. MSUB Applied Behavior Analysis students will also have the opportunity to conduct their required supervised internships for their professional certification within the Institute, which will provide them with an in-house learning experience. MSUB’s ABA graduate program currently has 49 students.

“The Neurodiversity Institute has a new way of looking at human differences,” Manthey said. “Neurodiversity is considered part of the normal variation of human differences and in many cases children with neurodiverse conditions have significant strengths not recognized by the traditional view of disabilities.” Manthey adds that this new perspective of focusing on capabilities allows them to develop services that recognize the inherent value and dignity of children with neurodiversity and develop the services they need.

An Open House will be held on Wednesday, April 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the College of Education, Room 158 on the MSUB University Campus. The event will include remarks from Chancellor Hicswa, Provost Eskandari and Institute Director Krystin Hussain. The open house is sponsored by the Montana Center for Inclusive Educationmarking its 75th anniversary (1947-2022).

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