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    Richard Serna PhD

    TitleAssociate Professor
    InstitutionUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
    DepartmentPsychiatry
    AddressUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell
    Mahoney Hall, Room 110
    Lowell MA 01854
    Phone978-934-4385
      Other Positions
      InstitutionUMMS - Programs, Centers and Institutes
      DepartmentShriver Center

        Overview 
        Narrative

        Academic Background

        B.A., University of New Mexico, 1980
        Ph.D., Utah State University, 1986

        Current appointments:

        Associate Professor,Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School

        Research Director , University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD),University of Massachusetts Medical School

        Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Lowell

        Board of Editors, The Psychological Record

        Board of Editors,Brazilian Journal of Behavior Analysis

        College of CSR Reviewers

        Richard Serna, Ph.D.

        Dr. Serna's research and development efforts are directed at addressing two areas of concern for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (DD), both of which involve behavior analysis (experimental and applied) as a tool for potential solutions.

        The first area concerns the limited and impaired auditory learning skills often seen in children with ASD. These problems impose limitations on a wide range of learning opportunities, including communication, social skills training, and academic instruction. Dr. Serna's research in this area investigates auditory discrimination in the ASD population from both behavioral and psychophysiological (EEG) perspectives. To date, most research in this area has utilized “higher-functioning” verbal individuals with ASD; Dr. Serna's research targets those with more pronounced intellectual disabilities, using methods of evaluation and training that do not depend on verbal instructions. Ultimately, the outcomes of this translational research could impact teaching methods for children with ASD involved in communication training and other related areas of treatment.

        The second area concerns training for parents and paraprofessionals on the sound implementation of treatment methods for children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. Early behavioral intervention, based on the methods of Applied Behavior Analysis, has the strongest and most consistent scientific support as a means of teaching skills to young children with ASD and reducing their restricted and maladaptive behavior. Unfortunately, few training programs are available to geographically disparate persons. Dr. Serna, together with colleagues at the Shriver Center, is currently developing online distance-learning education programs that may offer a potential solution to the problem. Most recently, Dr. Serna is aiming these efforts at the Spanish-speaking Latino Community.

        Ongoing Projects

        Behavioral and Sensory Evaluation of Auditory Discrimination In Autism

        Behavioral Technology for Teaching Symbolic Relations

        Behavioral Intervention in Autism: Practitioner Skills

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