Mount Aloysius Autism-Oriented Master’s Needed Now

Posted on: March 21, 2014

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Pan3Cresson, Pa. – Mount Aloysius College expanded its graduate programs last fall to meet emerging community need in treating growing numbers of clients with autism-spectrum disorders.  Their new Master of Science in Behavioral Specialist Consulting continues gaining popularity.  The 36-credit master’s program offers students a path to mandated licensure in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a Behavioral Specialist. Statistically, one in 83 births result in a child potentially needing treatment for an autism-spectrum disorder (ASD). The Mount Aloysius College Master of Science in Behavioral Consulting allows students to enter this field faster to serve the growing numbers of people in need.

Mr. Brian Nagle, director of autism services at Alternative Community Resource Program, (ACRP), applauded the Mount Aloysius College move. “Many agencies are creating clinical programs to help clients and their families dealing with autism-spectrum disorders,” he said.  “These agencies need trained clinicians regionally and nationally right now.”

The relationship between Mount Aloysius College and the ACRP continues to benefit the community and, more specifically, parents and children affected by autism spectrum disorder.

“More Behavioral Specialists are needed now,” said Mr. Nagle. “And the Masters in Behavioral Specialist Consulting at Mount Aloysius College is ideal because it addresses clinical education in a way that is tailored to meeting real community need.  Their degree program includes applied personality theory, associative psychology and cognitive treatment.  Completion of this coursework will make for a very well-rounded clinician,” he said.

Nagle noted that this summer will mark the third consecutive year that area clients with autism spectrum disorder will have access to the Alternative Community Resources Program’s Summer Therapeutic Activity Program (STAP) for children and adolescents diagnosed with autism. Held at Mount Aloysius College, the unique summer camp program is designed to provide treatment for children ages five through 18.  The STAP environment is tailored to provide a prescriptive social and learning experience that will meet the individual needs for each child.

Nagle added that his agency continues to receive positive feedback from parents whose children have attended the camp.  “Parents tell us that, in some cases, language patterns improve and children go beyond previous limitations, speaking in full sentences and becoming more patient and tolerant with change and transitions.

“Anecdotally, we know too that some of these clients have progressed more in language and social development in the six week ACRP Autism Camp than was experienced in two years of regular classroom attendance.  The environment is clinically more specialized.  Many of these students grow from the interactions and social structure experienced at the ACRP’s STAP camp.  The group support and peer influence, facilitated by the professionally trained staff, combine to develop specific behavioral breakthroughs.

“Mount Aloysius College has made a real commitment to these clients and their families,” Mr. Nagle added. “Their curriculum in Behavioral Specialist Consulting at the master’s level is clinically solid and urgently needed,’ he said.

“As of January 2014, clinicians now need licensure before they are allowed to work with these clients.  Nagle added, “The Mount Aloysius master’s level coursework offers the required training in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), clinical documentation and treatment data analysis.  It will be obvious to any managed care company that—with these graduates—the credentials are in place for licensure.   Graduates of this program will be welcomed into the clinical workforce.”

Licensure requires 1000 hours of background working in the autism-spectrum field in addition to one year of functional behavioral assessment.  “Anyone reviewing the transcripts of the Mount Aloysius College degree requirement will assess these graduates as very likely to achieve licensure,” he said.

Dr. David Haschak, N.C.C., L.P.C., associate dean of humanities at Mount Aloysius College noted that the current Master of Science students in the Behavioral Specialist Consulting program—given the licensure mandate—appreciate the clinical focus of the coursework. “Our students realize that the intent of this program is to expose them to this much needed subgroup of psychology—behavioral specialist—that is growing throughout the mental health field.  We develop skills in research, theory and practical applications in psychology,” added Dr. Haschak, “while building a very functional foundation in research methodology, and a grounded knowledge-base in social, developmental, cognitive and personality psychology.”

In addition to the ability to work with autism-spectrum affected clients, the Mount Aloysius College MS in Behavioral Specialist Consulting degree will be applicable to patient care in a variety of social service settings including mental health centers, correctional facilities, drug and alcohol treatment centers, hospitals, other health care institutions and even certain business settings.

Dr. Haschak noted that Mount Aloysius College has intentionally developed a broad-spectrum of graduate degree programs in the general field of human psychology.  “In addition of the Masters in Behavioral Specialist Consulting, our Master of Science in Community Counseling prepares students for eventual licensure should they wish to pursue it,” he said. “The Masters of Science in General Psychology prepares students for career advancement and even eventual doctoral study.”

For additional information about masters Degrees at Mount Aloysius College, contact Ms. Roxane Hogue, director of continuing education and graduate studies at (814) 886-6406 or to email her atgce@mtaloy.edu.

For more information about the ACRP’s Summer Therapeutic Activities Program for children diagnosed with autism, please call Brian Nagle at 535-2277 ext. 311.

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