KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- There is a shortage of Behavior Analyists in Oregon and even fewer in Klamath County that can help children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT/Oregon Tech) hopes to change that with its new Behavior Improvement Group Applied Behavior Analysis or BIG ABA for short. It allows students to work as they study to get their Master's degree or Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. Oregon Tech Applied Psychology students will be able to get lots of hands on experience at that clinic, which faculty says can help them have a leg up after graduating.
It's the only one within 75 miles of Klamath Falls. The Clinical Director Dr. Dawn Bailey said according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism, and with only 159 Behavior Analysts practicing in Oregon, there's a shortage. ABA is the national treatment standard for children with Autism. The Oregon Tech BIG ABA clinic is the only one in Klamath County and allows behavior analysis students to work and get actual experience while they're still in school.
"Oregon Tech's whole mission is built around applied experience and hands on learning. This is just an extension of Oregon Tech's mission to make sure we produce students who can do the things they've learned about as opposed to talk about the things they've learned about," Dr. Bailey added.
D'Anna Plass is currently an Applied Psychology undergraduate student working in the clinic. She hopes to get her Master's degree in the same field and believes this clinic will help her achieve that goal.
"It takes away a lot of my anxiety about the Master's program. A lot of people say that it's really hard but my bosses who will soon be my professors and are my professors now have told me that the experience I'm getting right now is going to help a lot with that program," Plass said.
Right now there are only three behavior analysts in Klamath County and two of them are at Oregon Tech's BIG ABA Clinic.