What is Autism?
Brain with puzzle pieces

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that usually appears during the first three years of life. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are often characterized by impairments in many areas of functioning including expressive and receptive communication, social interaction, play, and self-help skills. In addition, people with autism often display unusual and repetitive patterns of behavior that interfere with daily functioning and learning.

Current estimates from the Centers for Disease Control suggest that one in 68 children have been diagnosed with autism. The cause of autism has not yet been identified, although present studies indicate a neurological basis for the disability.

The Comprehensive Learning Center utilizes a widely accepted and recognized treatment approach for individuals with autism known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Read the Pennsylvania Autism Census Report

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science that is dedicated to the improvement and understanding of human behavior. Cooper, Heron and Heward (2007) define ABA as the following:

Applied behavior analysis is the science in which tactics derived from the principles of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior, and experimentation is used to identify the variables responsible for behavior change.

What does this mean? ABA is guided by the methods and attitudes of science. This means that all of our interventions are defined and delivered in a systematic and consistent way with the given scientific technologies available to us. In using science, we manipulate variables and collect data. By adhering to behavioral principles, we are held accountable to demonstrating that the methods and procedures we use are responsible for change in behavior. To summarize, we do not rely on subjective or anecdotal information as to why we think behavior has changed (or not changed), because we know this can be unreliable. By utilizing the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, we are able to provide our learners with the most efficient and effective interventions available through scientific research.

Cooper, J., Heron, T.E., Heward, W.L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis – Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson

Read More…

Website Resources

Asert – PA Autism.org
Asert is a Pennsylvania Bureau of Services Initiative. A website for Pennsylvanians with autism, their families, communities, and the providers who support them. www.paautism.org
Association for Behavior Analysis
Since 1974, the Association for Behavior Analysis International has been the primary membership organization for those interested in philosophy, science, application and teaching of behavior analysis. www.abainternational.org
Autism NJ
Autism NJ is the largest statewide outreach organization and network of parents and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders in New Jersey.www.autismnj.org
Autism Society of America
ASA began a nationwide awareness campaign in the early 70’s and today has more than 120,000 members and supporters. www.Autism-society.org
Autism Speaks, Inc.
Autism Speaks, Inc., 1060 State Rd, 2nd Floor, Princeton, NJ 08540-1423, (609) 228-7310. The world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatment and cure for autism and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. www.autismspeaks.org
Support and information for autism spectrum disorder. www.autismlink.com
Behavior Analyst Certification Board
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. (BACB®) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. bacb.com
Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support. www.aspergersyndrome.org
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) is committed to science as the most objective, time-tested and reliable approach to discerning between safe, effective autism treatments, and those that are harmful or ineffective. www.asatonline.org

Local Support Groups

Autism Cares Foundation
The “Autism Cares Foundation” has focused on providing life enriching opportunities that enable families to participate together in various activities.  They have developed a series of events, activities and programs spanning various age groups in an attempt to bring some type of typicality to what can be a challenging and somewhat unpredictable household situation. Their future plans call for developing an Autism Center of Excellence and Life Enrichment Facility for adults with autism. autismcaresfoundation.org
Greater Philadelphia Autism Society
– Promotes lifelong access and opportunities for persons within the autism spectrum and their families, to be fully included, participating members of their communities through advocacy, public awareness, education and research related to autism.For more information email them at asaphilly@yahoogroups.com or visit www.asaphilly.org.

    Let Me Hear Your Voice
    Maurice, Catherine, 1994.

    Behavior Intervention for Young Children with Autism: A Manual for Parents and Professionals
    Maurice, Catherine, Green, Gina and Luce, Stephen C., 1996.

    Making a Difference: Behavioral Intervention for Autism
    Maurice, Catherine, Foxx, Richard, 2001.

    Additional educational material can be obtained from the following websites:


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