B.A., University of New Mexico, 1980
Ph.D., Utah State University, 1986
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
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.
Behavioral and Sensory Evaluation of Auditory Discrimination In Autism
Behavioral Technology for Teaching Symbolic Relations
Behavioral Intervention in Autism: Practitioner Skills