Applications Accepted for New Applied Behavior Analysis Program

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Cairn’s School of Education launches program in Applied Behavior Analysis to serve autism needs worldwide.

Cairn University’s School of Education announces new undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). These programs are designed to prepare teachers and human services professionals for ABA careers in a variety of educational and community settings, serving clients of all ages.

ABA is the most research-supported treatment approach for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a developmental disorder characterized by social and communication deficits, as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors such as hand flapping, rocking, and spinning. Individuals with autism may have significant trouble conversing with and relating to others, reading social cues, and expressing what they want. In fact, about 50% of individuals with autism are mute. Affecting 1 in 68 US children, the pervasive deficits experienced by those with autism can result in overwhelming challenges for them and their families.

Widely used to address such deficits, ABA employs scientifically established principles to improve behaviors impacting success in the classroom and life, such as communication skills, reading and other academic skills, hygiene and self-care, and positive and safe behaviors.

ABA can be used by professionals and parents in the classroom, at home, and in other everyday situations. “Our program is the first biblically-based program that integrates extensive autism training with coursework that meets the course requirements for the internationally recognized Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential, as well as high-demand state credentials for working with individuals with autism and other disabilities,” says Dr. Stephanie Chung, chair of the Special Education Department and faculty member approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). “The program will prepare Cairn students to enhance the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related disabilities by designing effective behavioral interventions and training educators, other professionals, and parents to implement them.” Along with collaborative input from other experts in the field, Dr. Chung co-developed the program with her husband, Dr. Walter Chung, who holds a BCBA-D credential.

The fully online program was developed to help meet a growing global need for both research-supported autism interventions and training in biblical integration for educators. For example, recent estimates of the number of Chinese individuals living with autism range from 10 to 20 million, including four in every 1,000 of China’s 279 million children. Great opportunity exists for the development of services and ministries for individuals with autism and their families worldwide, including among a rapidly growing but largely undertrained Christian school movement in the non-Western world.

“The vision that God has impressed on my heart is for Cairn’s ABA and Special Education programs to train, inspire, and mobilize Christians around the world to transform the lives of individuals with special needs and their families,” says Dr. Stephanie Chung. “We aspire to see new autism ministries empowered by God arising to plant a seed of hope in the name of Jesus in families with autism among the nations.”

The Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis is a 21-credit program designed for working professionals already holding or pursuing a master’s degree in education, psychology, or ABA. The course sequence for Cairn’s ABA program meets the coursework requirements not only for the BCBA credential, but also for Pennsylvania’s ASD endorsement and Behavior Specialist License (LBS). Students who intend to sit for the BCBA exam may also complete 750 hours through the University’s online intensive practicum courses or through supervised independent fieldwork.

Cairn graduate and postgraduate education students also take one course in the School of Divinity (either Biblical Integration for Educators or Overview of Christian Theology), preparing them with the theological background needed for engaging the University’s distinctive biblical worldview integration in all its courses.

In addition to the postgraduate certificate, Cairn also offers an MS in Special Education (ABA) program, enabling students without a master’s in a related field to meet the degree requirement for receiving the BCBA credential. This program offers two tracks: an Intensive Practicum track and a Coursework-Only track. Students who opt for the Intensive Practicum track complete all coursework plus 750–1000 online intensive practicum hours, making them eligible to sit for the BCBA exam and/or LBS license. The Coursework-Only track allows students to satisfy the BCBA and LBS coursework requirements only, though they may opt to complete the experience requirements through supervised independent fieldwork. Students in both tracks are eligible for Pennsylvania’s ASD endorsement. Undergraduate and graduate students may also take a 12-credit sequence of ABA training, leading to state ASD endorsement and fulfilling coursework requirements for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential.

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