Promoting Successful Aging Through the Lifespan for Individuals with ASD and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
As all people age through adulthood and into older adulthood, they experience unique opportunities and challenges such as shifts in their career, shifts in their life focus, shifts in their social networks, and age-related physical changes. An important theme among researchers in gerontology (the study of aging) is evaluating how these changes impact quality of life, or how happy someone is with their life. Indeed, a great deal of research and effort has gone into understanding how people can experience the opportunities and challenges of aging while ensuring they maintain a high quality of life. Said another way, this research focuses on understanding how to age successfully. An important growing focus in gerontology research is expanding quality of life research to understand and support aging adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Applied behavior analysis, with its focus on improving socially important behaviors through the systematic application of behaviorally grounded interventions, is uniquely poised to provide empirical answers and evidence-based approaches to helping this population age successfully. This presentation will first discuss the current notions of aging successfully and how that applies to aging adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities. It will then cover existing knowledge of barriers to successful aging. The presentation will then focus on existing applied behavior analytic research and approaches that promote successful aging, as well as areas ripe for applied behavior analytic research and intervention.
Presented at the 2019 Michigan Autism Conference
Dr. Jonathan Baker is a clinical faculty specialist in the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University. Prior to joining WMU, he was an associate professor and coordinator of the gerontology certificate program, as well as a faculty member in the behavior analysis and therapy program in the Rehabilitation Institute at Southern Illinois University. He received a certificate in gerontology from the University of Kansas, a master’s in applied behavior science from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University. Dr. Baker is on the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. He is an Associate Editor at Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice as well as in the AE mentorship program for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. He has served as a guest reviewer for multiple behavior analytic journals, as well as the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias and The Gerontologist. Dr. Baker is the former president of the Mid-American Association of Behavior Analysis and former chair of the Behavioral Gerontology Special Interest Group with ABAI. Dr. Baker was the principle investigator for the Behavioral Residential In-home Care and Supports (BRICS) project evaluation for the Illinois Department of Aging and is currently a coprincipal investigator for Behavior Analysis and Intervention in Nursing Homes, funded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Baker’s research interest are behavioral gerontology, treatment adoption, adults and older adults with developmental disabilities, and staff training.