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Improving the Lives of Students with Autism by NOT Focusing on their Disability

Morten Haugland
This presentation will share how Haugland Learning Center (HLC) and its staff use the science of human behavior to improve educational functioning for children with autism. HLC is a private school in Ohio serving more than 300 students with an autism diagnosis. Focus will be on how our professional values and philosophy plays a role in the services we provide. Too often behavior analysts focus on the autism diagnosis and “canned” treatment approaches, missing the Analysis part of ABA. As a result, progress may be limited lending ammunition to those criticizing our science. This presenter believes that our values and how we approach interventions for individuals with autism play a significant role in the level of improvement for those we serve. HLC’s values include the statements: “Having Autism is not an excuse for lower expectation” and “Kids don’t fail because they have autism, but because they are not taught”. HLC is focusing on education rather than treatment and sets high expectations for all students. Staff are not allowed to use the label of autism as an excuse for a students’ failure to learn. Our students make significant improvements in academic and social functioning through focus on effective instruction based on our science. Data will be presented showing how the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction have produced great improvement across all academic areas. A critical overview of the components of our program will be shared.

Presented at the 2017 Michigan Autism Conference

Dr. Morten Haugland, founder and CEO of Haugland Learning Center, started serving individuals with special needs from the time he immigrated to the US from Norway in 1990. After coming to the United States, he started working as a direct care staff in a group home for adults with disabilities. There he was introduced to behavior analysis by the staff Behavior Analyst, a graduate from Western Michigan University, and decided to pursue his education in behavior analysis. He completed his Bachelor Degree in Psychology from Northern Michigan University in 1994 and received a Masters Degree in Applied Psychology from St. Cloud State University in 1996. Dr. Haugland then completed his Ph.D. and a second Masters Degree in ABA and Special Education at The Ohio State University in 2000. After being a faculty at Otterbein College in Ohio, he started Haugland Learning Center (HLC), a school for children with autism in 2004. HLC currently employ about 230 staff and have 6 location around the state. Currently over 400 students across Ohio receive educational services from HLC. Dr. Haugland holds a national certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D). He helped start the Ohio chapter of ABAI and was instrumental in pushing legislation for Certified Ohio Behavior Analysts (COBA). His special interest area is effective instruction, Precision Teaching and the use of ABA principles in educational settings including effective classroom management strategies. He started the National Institute for Effective Instruction in 2015. This organization holds an annual conference on effective instruction in Columbus each year.
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