HATTIESBURG, Miss. - This is a press release written by Leah Rupp Smith.
Mississippians living with a developmental disorder, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, have access to new resources, thanks to the recent work of the Mississippi Autism Board.
In its short two-year existence, the Autism Board has licensed 33 Behavior Analysts and one Assistant Behavior Analysts in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.
Autism Board members and licensed analysts gathered on the University of Southern Mississippi campus today to kick off April Autism Awareness Month and prepare for World Autism Awareness Day, which is Sunday, April 2, 2017.
“Studies show children with autism and other developmental disorders improve in their ability to learn, reason, communicate, and adapt when high-quality ABA programs are available to them,” said Dr. James Moore, chairman of the Autism Board, which developed licensure requirements pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 73-75-1, et seq.
ABA is a process involving the systematic application of interventions, such as positive reinforcement, based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors among individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders.
Licensure by the Autism Board protects those receiving treatment by vetting practicing analysts. Unless exempted by statute, any individual practicing ABA therapy in Mississippi must be licensed by the Autism Board.
Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 73-75-5, certain practitioners are not prevented or restricted from practicing ABA without a license. For example, licensed psychologists and certain family members or guardians of a recipient of therapy do not require a license from the Autism Board.
“One in 68 children is affected by autism, so we want to bring as much awareness as possible about the disorder and available treatment options,” said Moore, who is Program Coordinator of the ABA Master’s Training Program at the University of Southern Mississippi. The first students to graduate from the program will receive their diploma in May 2017.
ABA licensure applicants must submit to the Autism Board an application fee, university transcripts, and licenses, and undergo a criminal background check. Licenses are for three-year terms.
To learn more about the Mississippi Autism Board, or to access an application to become a licensed Behavior Analyst or Assistant Behavior Analyst, visit the Board’s website. To learn more about Autism Awareness Month, visit Autism Speaks’ website.