Y.A.L.E. School News

Y.A.L.E. autism program expands, opens two new campuses

by Dr. Rachael Sautter

The Y.A.L.E. School autism program has grown and expanded since 1997. Since its inception, it has been devoted to applying the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to instruction for children with a diagnosis of autism. ABA is a data based and analytical discipline devoted to the understanding and improvement of human behavior, and all interventions are designed to be functionally relevant for each student. The Y.A.L.E. School’s program systematically implements ABA procedures to increase functional and appropriate behaviors while decreasing inappropriate or disruptive behaviors.

As the program grows so do the needs of the students we serve. In 2005, the Y.A.L.E. School autism program expanded to add two additional satellite campuses to serve the unique needs of students with a diagnosis of autism in new locations and in new age ranges, including its Atlantic program in Hamilton Township New Jersey, that better serves students who could not travel to Voorhees to attend the autism program at Y.A.L.E. School Southeast. Similar to the program in Voorhees, the program in Hamilton Township is a comprehensive ABA program focusing on increasing academic, social, and behavioral competency. The program provides services to students between the ages of 3 and 7 in the surrounding communities and is housed in a public elementary school which allows for integration opportunities on an individualized basis.

In addition to the expansion of the autism program to Hamilton Township, another opened in Audubon New Jersey in 2005, in a public Junior-Senior high school and provides behavior analytic services to students between the ages of 12 and 21. Currently, the program consists of two classrooms within Audubon High School and is made up of students between 14 and 19 years of age. The programming for these older students also utilizes the principles of ABA; however there is an increased focus on incorporating life and work-readiness skills into the curriculum, as well as individualized transition and vocational planning for each student. Structured peer interactions, community based instruction and job sampling opportunities within the high school cafeteria and various community placements are also components of this satellite campus.

Looking towards the near future, these satellite campuses are going to continue to expand and grow as the needs of the students and the communities do. The next planned expansion will begin in July 2010 with the addition of a new elementary classroom in Audubon, providing behavior analytic instruction to students ages 8-11 in a public-school environment and allowing for beneficial integration opportunities for students on an individualized basis. In addition, the expansion of the Y.A.L.E. School autism program will continue later in the fall with the addition of another classroom at Audubon High School, as well as the addition of a second classroom in Hamilton Township. This additional classroom in Hamilton Township will allow us to provide services to students between the ages of 7 and 9 within a public elementary school environment.

The expansion of these satellite autism programs warranted an expansion of our behavior analytic staff to provide educational and clinical supervision to the students and staff in these programs. As a result, the Y.A.L.E. School is very pleased to announce the addition of Rebecca Null, Ph.D., BCBA-D as the supervising behavior analyst for the satellite autism programs. Dr. Null received her Ph.D. from Temple University and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the Y.A.L.E. clinical team with almost 15 years of experience working with students of all ages with a diagnosis of autism. She has worked extensively in the areas of staff supervision and training, program development, Functional Behavior Assessment, the development and implementation of individualized behavior plans, and establishing functional communication systems.

Dr. Null will be working as the primary certified behavior analyst for the Y.A.L.E. School Hamiltown Township and Audubon campuses, and will coordinate admissions, provide program development, conduct staff training and supervision, and address the academic and behavioral needs of the students in these programs.