Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Education has pooled its expertise to form a new research center focused on autism and behavioral analysis.
The Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research will provide autism-related diagnostic assessments and evaluations for children in the community by working with two existing College of Education clinics. In addition to offering treatment options at Aderhold Hall on the UGA campus, the center gives graduate students the opportunity to develop assessment skills needed to work in school districts and clinical settings.
The center aims to help teachers, educators and UGA students better identify and assess behavioral issues in students. The center is partnering with Clarke County and Gwinnett County school districts to provide experiential learning opportunities for graduate students as they work alongside parents and local educators learning how to manage the behavior of children and students with autism.
Kevin Ayres, co-director of the new center and a professor in the department of communication sciences and special education, said the Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research serves as a backdrop for three important components: training, research and clinical practice.
“I think the concept that unifies the work done through CABER is an approach to learning that comes from the perspective of behavior analysis, where we focus on the interaction between a person and the environment,” Ayres said. “It’s a perspective that has application for people with disabilities like autism or intellectual disability, as well as for individuals without a disability.”
CABER is supported by multiple research grants that support teaching new skills and increasing socially desirable behavior among children with developmental disabilities. The center combines resources from the Applied Behavior Analysis Clinic, the School Psychology Clinic and the college’s Board-Certified Behavior Analysis program.
Scott Ardoin, co-director of CABER and a professor in the department of educational psychology, said the center will also benefit from his current research into children’s reading behavior. Using information from cutting-edge eye-tracking technology, he will guide the development of reading comprehension assessments and help develop best practices in test-taking strategies.
And thanks to the Applied Behavior Analysis Clinic’s Automatic for Autism endowment, the new clinic also has a lending library of assistive technology available to families and caregivers.
“The new center is a place where we can conduct research and provide students and practitioners with training experiences,” Ayres said, “all while helping children and adults in our community.”