Brock behaviour analyst appointed to Ontario autism committee

Julie Koudys has become the second Brock University faculty member appointed to the Ontario government’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Expert Committee.

“It’s an exciting and challenging opportunity, especially for a new researcher,” says Koudys, Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Disability Studies.

Koudys joins Maurice Feldman, Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies and the Department of Applied Disability Studies on the committee that provides clinical advice to Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) treatments, services and supports for children, youth and their families.

Committee members review and analyze evidence-based research on treatments, services and supports for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders.

Koudys also recently received the 2017 Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis Research Award, which recognizes an individual who is conducting meaningful research in the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) field. She is the former chair of the Ontario Scientific Expert Taskforce for the Treatment of ASD.

Earlier this year, the taskforce released a report recommending that ABA be used in autism care and describing a wide variety of evidence-based interventions that use ABA to bring about specific results.

Lawmakers discussed the report in the Ontario legislature to support the adoption of evidence-based practices in the Ontario Autism Program.

Applied behaviour analysis interventions are considered to be the gold standard in autism care because they’re based on the best available research and have been applied effectively in the past.

Some of these interventions include:

  • Language training: methods to help individuals with ASD produce sounds or spoken words.
  • Functional behaviour assessment: a systematic way of determining the underlying function or purpose of a behaviour so that an effective intervention plan can be developed.
  • Parent training and parent-implemented interventions: includes programs in which parents are trained to carry out some or all of the interventions with their own child.

Koudys says the fact three of the 10 people on the ASD Clinical Expert Committee are applied behaviour analysts is “significant in recognizing the expertise in research and clinical practice that behaviour analysts in Ontario have to contribute to policy and program development.”

She credits Brock’s Applied Disability Studies program for offering the largest ABA graduate program in the province and for contributing to the exponential growth of ABA capacity in the field.

Koudys says she hopes the committee will, among other things, examine how to expand ASD programs and services to include younger children and older youth, especially those with complex needs, who often miss out on such supports.

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