Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


Third Annual Autism Conference; Jacksonville, FL; 2009

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #9
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Defining, Designing, & Delivering ABA School Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Saturday, February 7, 2009
4:45 PM–5:45 PM
Grand Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Suzanne Letso, M.A.
Chair: David A. Celiberti (Association for Science in Autism Treatment)
SUZANNE LETSO (Connecticut Center for Child Development)
Suzanne Letso is the co-founder and CEO of the Connecticut Center for Child Development. She currently serves as a Scientific Advisory Council member for the Organization for Autism Research, on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Marrakech, Inc. She has participated in the establishment of a number of other service organizations and autism-related initiatives over the last 15 years. Mrs. Letso provides consultative services to assist in the development, reorganization, and management of educational programs for individuals with autism; and training in organizational management, board development, and other related topics. Mrs. Letso holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University, a Master of Arts Degree in Leadership from Duquesne University, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Prior to her involvement in the establishment of educational resources for individuals with autism, Mrs. Letso worked as a marketing executive for several international medical product manufacturers, where she was involved in new product, business, and venture capital start-up initiatives. In addition, she has been involved in organizational assessment, development, and ongoing management of for-profit enterprises in other fields. Mrs. Letso is the parent of a son with autism.

The demand for educational services based on empirically validated instructional strategies has dramatically increased over the last two decades, particularly for students with autism. Both public and private agencies are striving to create new educational programs, and to increase both the quality and availability of behaviorally-based services to meet this growing demand. Yet far too often, the planning process ends with development of a students IEP. Regardless of whether a program is being designed for a single student or a multi-classroom school program, effective educational programs require a great deal of planning and preparation beyond the goals and objectives identified in an IEP to ensure success. This presentation will provide an overview of the development, management, and leadership of ABA services for individuals with autism and related disorders. A model for organizational design and program planning processes will be outlined. The importance of an organizational hierarchy, time lines, motivational systems, and identification of key administrative and clinical leadership roles and responsibilities will be delineated. A method for determining staff credentials and staffing ratios will be discussed. Basic program criteria such as space requirements and site selection will be reviewed. Frequently asked questions such as how to design effective training protocols, classroom management systems, maintain parent involvement, and administrative support will be discussed. The need for program-wide data collection methods, accountability systems, and outcome measures will be described.




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