Brittany DiSanti, HiOA

Brittany DiSanti , HiOA focuses autism and listener behavior Foto: Benjamin A. Ward

Autism and how to understand the world around you

My doctoral thesis focuses on teaching children with autism listener behavior.  Listener behavior means that the listener is able to understand what is being said by another person, and how to appropriately respond.

My name is Brittany DiSanti and I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Behavior Analysis at HiOA.  I am originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, and completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Pittsburgh.  I completed my graduate degree in Early Intervention and Autism Specialization with a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis.

I am comparing two different training procedures which have been debated in the research over the last few years. I am also comparing the procedures to different skills taught with children of varying severities of autism.  The reason I am researching this topic is because we want to continue researching which training procedure is most effective; also which training procedure requires less number of trials, less errors, and less prompts. This training is important since children with autism have difficulty learning within their natural environment. With one on one training, we want the child’s responding to come under appropriate stimulus control and for them to respond on their own with no errors. These skills are important to acquire so the child is able to respond independently in a variety of situations within their environment.

Training and results. Foto: Benjamin A. Ward

I am comparing two different training procedures, says Brittany DiSanti. Foto: Benjamin A. Ward

My passion for working with children with autism started after studying abroad in Ireland during my undergraduate degree.  At the time, I knew that children with autism had deficits in language skills, but I had little knowledge about early intervention or behavior analysis.  After completely my graduate degree and Applied Behavior Analysis certificate, I began working as a therapist within the applied setting.  While working in the applied setting I was able to see first-hand how important and how effective intensive one on one training was for children with autism.

After completing my PhD, I would like to transition back to working in the applied setting.  I would like to be go back to working one on one with the children in the home, school, and community setting.  I would like to continue working on research projects to add variety to my work within the field, and to contribute to autism research.  My ultimate career goal would be to work as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in a school setting.

Research takes time! Foto: Benjamin A. Ward