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January 2012

Forest Institute Offers Opportunities for Parents to Gain ABA Training by Will Carter “A few of the lectures have sent me down memory lane. I would think, wow, I remember that,” said Forest student Jennifer Jones*. She is the mother of a child diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder, and says the launch of Missouriʼs first masterʼs program in applied behavior analysis was a blessing and an opportunity all at the same time. “God did not open up doors for me to help my son just so I could take that information and walk away. I decided to use what I learned and give back,” said Jones.

Her son was diagnosed at the age of three-and-ahalf. At that time ABA therapy was still fairly new and expensive. Not to mention, it wasnʼt covered by insurance. However, it was exactly what her son needed to develop the skills to live a long and normal life. “He gained more skills in a few months than he did during an entire year of preschool,” she said. Her son is now a high school athlete and will be graduating soon. With that in mind, Jones decided it was time to begin the second half of her life with a new career, one geared at helping other children like her son. “I want to work with early childhood aged children doing one-on-one therapy with them, because the earlier you start the better the outcome,” she said. Jones just completed her first semester at Forest Institute and already feels like the program is helping her prepare. She attributes some of that to the experience of the programʼs director, Dr. Michele Williams, who happens to be the one who developed her sonʼs ABA program. “She has practical experience. Itʼs much more than just book smarts,” said Jones. Williams has worked in behavior analysis since the early 90ʼs and is now a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral® and a Licensed Behavior Analyst. Williams says with Missouri legislation now requiring insurance companies to cover ABA treatment, thereʼs been no better time for parents of autistic kids to use their skills to help themselves and others. # For more information on Forest Instituteʼs ABA programs visit # *The name of the student was changed to protect her privacy.

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Missouri Autism Report January