(June 9, 2016) -- Leslie Neely, assistant professor of educational psychology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), will provide top-tier training to researchers and volunteers from Japan in methods to help improve social behaviors in children with autism in their country.
“It’s a great honor to share the top-tier expertise we have here at UTSA with Japan,” Neely said. “I believe we are forging a strong connection and are at the forefront of helping other researchers meet the needs of children around the world with autism and developmental disabilities."
Neely is the coordinator for the UTSA Applied Behavior Analysis graduate certification program and a doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst. Her approach, applied behavior analysis (ABA), involves understanding a child’s behavior and modifying the environment in order to help improve social and communication skills, reduce challenging behavior and improve academic behavior.
According to Neely, ABA therapy can be immensely helpful for autism or developmental disabilities, but it is not employed in many countries due a number of factors, including cultural barriers, lack of funding, or a lack of training and education about the needs of children with autism or developmental disabilities.
“There is a desperate need in these countries for training and education in care for children with autism,” said Neely. “Unfortunately, there aren’t enough certified experts available to train or educate others. My partners and I hope to create a culturally responsive model that can address those needs.”
In the fall, Neely and her collaborator, Ee Rea Hong from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, will begin the initial training sessions for what they are calling the Global ABA Project. The project's goal is to craft a culturally sensitive training and education model using specialized therapy methods for children with autism that can be replicated by local organizations.
At last count, said Neely, there were only approximately 13 ABA experts in Japan who are certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, an international non-profit which oversees behavior analysts. A 2004 report by the Japanese Autism Association stated that about 360,000 individuals in Japan had been diagnosed with autism.
“Most of Japan’s behavior analysts are tied to research hospitals or universities,” Neely said. “So, as much as they might like to, they often cannot provide direct services or education on ABA therapy to communities, especially those living in rural towns or cities."
Following the fall collaboration, Neely and Hong will meet with researchers in Brazil led by Siglia Hoher Camargo from the University of Pelotas to continue the project. Neely hopes that the project can be adapted to serve the needs of other countries and cultures.
The UTSA Applied Behavior Analysis graduate certificate program provides current and prospective students with the knowledge and skills to develop proficiency in applied behavior analysis. The certificate is especially tailored for educational psychology and special education professionals.
In addition to the ABA certificate program, UTSA is home to multiple top-tier behavioral laboratories, such as the SAABA project and TEAM Center, where faculty and students serve the needs of children with autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities while conducting top-tier research.
By Jesus Chavez
Public Affairs Specialist
Learn more about how UTSA is leading the way in using applied behavior analysis to meet the needs of children with disabilities through the UTSA Applied Behavior Analysis graduate certificate program.
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.
Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.
Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
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Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
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UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
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Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
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