April is national Autism Awareness Month. Autism disorder has hit the country and our state pretty hard. While I was an undergraduate at University of Nevada Reno, one of my major was Psychology and I was very lucky to have met and worked with our Behavior Analysis Program. Did you know that we have some of the top Ph.D. professors here for Autism?
Our Behavior Analysis Program is very well known. The Early Childhood Autism Program was founded by Drs. Patrick M. Ghezzi and Sidney W. Bijou in the early 90’s. I was introduced to Dr. Ghezzi and his program for Autism when I was a junior going into my senior. I wasn’t able to be to in it because he wanted freshman that were going to be with the families for at least four years. I have many of friends who have or are currently enrolled in this program as undergraduates and graduate students. They just put their heart and soul into this program.
The program works with these children and proves them with the right tools. Some of the students keep working with the families or stays in contact with them after their time is up with them. This is such a wonderful program.
What is Autism? “Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research. There are probably combinations of factors that lead to autism.
Genetic factors seem to be important. For example, identical twins are much more likely than fraternal twins or siblings to both have autism. Similarly, language abnormalities are more common in relatives of autistic children. Chromosomal abnormalities and other nervous system (neurological) problems are also more common in families with autism.
A number of other possible causes have been suspected, but not proven. They involve:
•Digestive tract changes
•The body’s inability to properly use vitamins and minerals
* This information came from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002494/
The UNR Early Childhood Autism Program
“The UNR Early Childhood Autism Program is dedicated to improving the lives of young children with autism and their families. The scientific principles and established practices of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are at the core of the program. The practice of behavior analysis is complemented and extended by research that contributes to the knowledge base of behavior science. Whether practice, research, or both, the focus is always on the individual child and family, emphasizing the progressive development, refinement, and elaboration of meaningful skills and abilities. As a university-based program, it is also a training site for graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in behavior analysis and for undergraduate students pursuing a degree in psychology or a related field.
The UNR Early Childhood Autism Program is primarily home-based. This means that intervention takes place in the comfort, safety, and privacy of the child’s home. Highly trained and closely supervised graduate and undergraduate student tutors comprise the child’s intervention team. In most cases, 30 hours of one-to-one intervention is provided each week throughout the year for a minimum of two years.
A child may also receive school-based services. These services are provided by tutors that work in the home of the child and that are also trained to apply the methods of behavior analysis in the regular education classroom.
The program requires parents to learn how to manage their child’s behavior in the home and how to integrate their child’s education and treatment into the family routine. Siblings, close relatives, and family friends must also learn how to interact with the child in a positive and productive manner.
Participation in the program is preceded by an intake and evaluation procedure. If the parent’s and senior staff agree that it is the appropriate service for the child, then preparations are made first, to begin parent training, and second, to gradually fade the child’s team of tutors into the home.” *This information is from UNR Early Childhood Autism Program which can be at http://www.unr.edu/psych/behavior/training_opportunities_autism.html
Please check out The UNR Early Childhood Autism Program website and see how you too can give back!!