Major in Autism Behavioral Studies

To meet the growing need for qualified, highly trained providers of autism services and treatment, Saint Joseph's University offers a B.S. in Autism Behavioral Studies. This program offers a rigorous and comprehensive undergraduate major focusing primarily on medically-related services and treatment of autism through extensive classroom education and training, as well as hands-on skill development and practice for mastery of classroom concepts. Students complete this major with the option of obtaining a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Certification (BCaBA).

Through a rigorous evaluation process, the curriculum for the Autism Behavioral Studies Major is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies in Washington, DC. Applied Behavior Analysis has been endorsed by many state and federal agencies, including state health departments and the U.S. Surgeon General. In order to receive BCaBA certification approval, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires an approved bachelors degree in a health-related field. With a bachelor's degree in Autism Behavioral Studies, completion of the required coursework and field hours, and successfully passing the BCaBA exam, students will obtain national certification as Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA), essentially graduating with a highly marketable credential to work in any area of the United States.Learn more at the Department of Health Services Website

Program Director Contact Information:
Dr. Michelle Rowe
250 Connelly Hall

Application Process

Step 1: Download and fill out Select a Major form
Step 2: Obtain a signature from Dr. Michelle Rowe, Professor of Health Services, at the Kinney Center (Connelly Hall, Room 250)
Step 3: Dr. Rowe will then make a copy and submit the original to the Hawk Central (Barbelin/Lonergan Hall, Room 121). You may be asked to deliver the signed form to Hawk Central yourself.
Note: Students choosing a major must seek the approval of the chair in the department of the major no later than the last day of the add/drop period of their seventh semester.

If you are not already an SJU student, please
Apply to Saint Joseph's University as an undergraduate freshman or transfer student.

Requirements for the Major in Autism Studies

Core Courses — 5 Required:
IHS 465: Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders
IHS 466: Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Treatment*
IHS 467: Social Skills Development in Autism*
IHS 472: Senior Seminar in Autism Behavioral Studies
IHS 331: Statistics and Research Methods

Advanced Courses — 2 Required:**
IHS 473: Advanced Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis
IHS 474: Applications of ABA: Functional Analysis and Ethics

Area Studies — Choose 4 from the following: (2 must be IHS)**
IHS 468: Resources and Advocacy for Autism*
IHS 469: Adult and Transition Services in Autism
IHS 490: Internship in Autism Studies* (listed in the Academic Catalog as "Internship in Health Services")
IHS XXX: Coping with Autism
IHS XXX: Integrated Therapies in Autism (Occupational and Physical Therapy; Speech Pathology; Nutrition)
IHS XXX: Pharmacological Management of Autism and Related Behaviors
IHS XXX: Healthcare Policies and Navigating the Healthcare System in Autism
IHS XXX: Health Insurance, Managed Care and Reimbursement for Autism Services
IHS 110: Psychosocial Aspects of Chronic Illness and Disability
IHS 248: Health and the School-aged Child
PSY 120: Lifespan Development
PSY 121: Child Development
PSY 122: Abnormal Psychology for Non-Majors (or Abnormal Psychology for Psychology Majors)
PSY 201: Biological Basis of Behavior
PSY 222: Neuropsychology
PSY 226: Psychology of Emotion
PSY 237: Abnormal Child Psychology
SPE 160: Introduction to Special Education
SPE 200: Teaching in Inclusive Environments
SPE 339: Educating Students with Low Incidence Disabilities
SPE 369: Educating Students with Emotional-Social, Behavior Disabilities
SPE 379: Family, School and Community in a Diverse Society

**Some courses require prerequisites. Please check the department listings in the Academic Catalog for prerequisite requirements.

Selected Course Descriptions

Please refer to the Academic Catalog for other Course Descriptions

IHS 465 - Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's), including Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Asperger's Syndrome, are common, occurring in 1 in 100 individuals. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, ASD's impact social interactions and communication skills. The types of ASD's range in severity from very low functioning, associated with significant cognitive deficits and highly disruptive behaviors, to very high functioning, associated with highly gifted intelligence and "quirky" behaviors. This course introduces students to the neurology, symptoms, diagnostic criteria, causes, biomedical treatments, and behavioral interventions, as well as to the impact on individuals with ASD's, families, friends, school districts, the economy, and society with regard to functioning, coping, prognosis, and outcomes.

IHS 466 - Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Treatment
This course is designed to introduce the current research-based interventions in the field of autism that include applied behavior analysis (verbal behavior, discrete trial instruction, picture communication, Pivotal Response Training, Competent Learner Model), TEACCH, and social skills. Students will gain a general understanding of applied behavior analysis principles and how they can be used across multiple environments (home, school, early intervention, clinics) to address the various social, behavioral and communication deficits of individuals with autism.
IHS 465 is strongly recommended prior to or concurrently with this course.

IHS 467 - Social Skills Development in Autism
Social skills are learned behaviors that individuals need to successfully navigate social interactions and relationships. This course introduces students to a variety of approaches for assessing and improving the social skills of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. A variety of empirically validated methodologies will be discussed, including incidental teaching; video modeling; social stories; and using textual cues. Students will learn to apply these methodologies to teach skills such as joint attention, greetings, conversations, social play, self-awareness, perspective-taking, critical thinking, developing friendships, and community and home success.
IHS 465 is strongly recommended prior to or concurrently with this course.

IHS 468 - Resources and Advocacy for Autism
Intervention and therapeutic services are critical to improving the lives of children and adults, and advocating for individuals with autism is an important process in securing these services. This course introduces students to the role that therapists, physicians, families, case workers and community agents serve in advocating for those with autism, where services are provided, how they are funded, what they offer those with autism, and how to advocate for individuals with autism.
IHS 465 is strongly recommended prior to or concurrently with this course.

IHS 469 - Adult and Transition Services in Autism
This course focuses on understanding the issues facing adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Students will learn about issues adults with ASD face including independent living skills, friendships, sexual relationships and marriage, finding and coping with employment, secondary education, post-secondary education, psychiatric disturbances in adulthood, legal issues, and enhancing independence. Students will learn the newest research and intervention techniques to promote a successful transition to adulthood.
IHS 465 is strongly recommended prior to or concurrently with this course.

IHS 470 - Seminar in Autism Spectrum Disorders
In this course, important topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders will be discussed in more detail and students will design an individualized major project. This project will help students to focus on the specific needs of children or adults with autism by developing particular types of goals, services, programs, or other relevant activities. This course will also involve observing the process of working with individuals with autism to help improve the quality of their functioning in meaningful areas of their lives.
Prerequisite required - at least one other course in Autism Studies is required prior to taking this course. IHS 465 is strongly recommended prior to or concurrently with this course.
IHS 465 is strongly recommended prior to or concurrently with this course.

IHS 473 - Advanced Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis
This course is designed to expand upon the previously learned concepts of behavior analysis and connect it to the practical world for teachers and educators. In this course, students will gain an understanding of how to use the principles and practices of applied behavioral management in the classroom. Classroom-based examples and practices firmly grounded in research will be discussed. This course will address identifying target behavior, collecting and graphing data, functional assessment, experimental design, arranging antecedents and consequences, generalizing behavior change, and the importance of ethical considerations in using applied behavior analysis in the classroom. Students will also have the opportunity to analyze classroom examples that show teachers using applied behavior analysis techniques in different settings.
Prerequisites: IHS 465, IHS 466, and IHS 467.

IHS 474 - Applications of ABA: Functional Analysis and Ethics
This course is designed to expand upon the previously learned concepts of behavior analysis and will present the student with information on observation, data collection, and data interpretation. Students will learn the methods for obtaining descriptive data and the procedures for conducting systematic manipulations. Functional assessments and analysis of individual behaviors will be a primary focus. Specific single subject experimental designs will be discussed. The ethical considerations inherent in behavioral assessment, treatment, and research will be reviewed.
Prerequisites: IHS 465, IHS 466, IHS 467, and IHS 473.