UMass Medical School creates online resource for parents of children with autism

May 03, 2013
Discovering Behavioral Intervention

WORCESTER, MA (May 1, 2013) – The first few days and weeks following a child’s diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder can be a confusing and emotional time for parents.

On the heels of a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of parents that indicates 1 in 50 school children has autism, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and its Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center are launching Discovering Behavioral Intervention: A Parent’s Interactive Guide to Applied Behavior Analysis, a Web based, interactive learning guide for both parents and the professionals who work with children on the autism spectrum.

Discovering Behavioral Intervention, a self-paced, 10-module learning guide, uses real-life situations to help inform parent decision-making and provides a comprehensive understanding of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  ABA is a proven, scientific approach to helping children with autism reach their fullest potential.

The course is available through a new subscription-based service called UDiscovering, an online learning platform offering products and tools to help parents and professionals caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The many demands placed upon parents in the days and weeks following a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can be very challenging to manage as they begin to work through the diagnosis with their child,” said Elaine Gabovitch, MPA, a Shriver Center autism expert, and the CDC’s Act Early autism campaign Ambassador for Massachusetts. “Research has shown that Applied Behavior Analysis is a successful intervention strategy that benefits children with autism spectrum disorder. We have developed a resource that allows parents to access the latest research and best practices of Applied Behavior Analysis, as well as learn from other parents like me who have faced the same situation.”

The online training offers parents:

  • A one-stop shop for learning about ABA with 24/7 access
  • Step-by-step interventions to manage challenging behaviors
  • Guidance on how to work with school systems and professionals such as speech, physical and occupational therapists
  • Strategies to help parents identify their child’s unique care needs, how to coordinate care and monitor progress

Discovering Behavioral Intervention is the only parent-oriented ABA learning product of its kind. What Rosetta Stone® is to someone learning a new language, Discovering Behavioral Intervention is for a parent who needs to learn ABA for their child.  It gives them confidence, a voice, and a language to advocate when working with professional providers and school systems.

Maura Buckley, a mother of two children diagnosed with autism and a member of the UMass Medical School team that developed the course, said the online resource is comprehensive and, most importantly, parent-friendly in its approach.

 “In the wake of a new diagnosis, parents are faced with having to make a lot of decisions quickly to provide the best care for their child,” said Buckley. “They are confronted with a blizzard of questions, and advice, along with new terminology and language.  As a parent, you’re on a roller coaster – this course helps make sense out of what can be a confusing and overwhelming time.”

Also for Professionals

The training is also a valuable tool for medical, health and educational specialists, helping them work more effectively with families by providing an understanding of ABA from a parent’s perspective.

Affordable and Accessible

Autism cuts across all of society. This product has been priced to make it affordable and accessible to all parents and professionals. Discovering Behavioral Intervention is available at a one-time cost of $299 for a 12-month subscription. During the month of May, the course is being offered at a 20 percent discount to those who opt for the one-time annual subscription. Monthly and quarterly payment options are also available.  For more information about the online program, see the website:

The Shriver Center is part of the UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.  Commonwealth Medicine is the health policy and public service arm of the Medical School, and is focused on delivering innovative solutions to improve the health of vulnerable populations. 


 About UMass Medical School: UMass Medical School, one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts and the state’s only public medical school, is an academic health sciences center that is part of Massachusetts’ public university system. It is at the forefront of health care delivery, informatics, and public policy formulation, and it is home to Nobel Prize-winning research. With a commitment to using rigorously tested research to make evidence-based recommendations, UMass Medical School reaches beyond the traditional boundaries of academia to establish research initiatives, training programs, and clinical services focusing on special populations.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center: Established 30 years ago, The Shriver Center is a nationally and internationally recognized research, education, and public service center dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center joined UMass Medical School in 2000.

Research Funded by National Institutes of Health

Shriver Center researchers and developmental disability experts have been conducting research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for many years. NIH grants have been awarded to fund innovative products to help families and professionals support those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. These products are developed under the rigorous clinical research guidelines expected by NIH reviewers as a condition of funding.