NECC Associate Clinical Director Jason Bourret, Ph.D., BCBA-D, was named the 2020 recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Verbal Behavior Award presented by the Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Bourret was awarded this at the 46th ABAI Conference, held May 21-25, 2020. This year’s conference, which brought together the foremost experts in behavior analysis from around the world to present research findings, was held virtually due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
ABAI, the leading international organization for those dedicated to the philosophy, science, application, and teaching of behavior analysis, and its Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group of ABAI presents this award annually. Bourret was recognized due to his fine work in teaching verbal behavior courses in the graduate ABA program as part of NECC’s partnership with Western New England University (WNEU).
As a discipline, verbal behavior analysis involves studying how individuals communicate with their community and others. From there, behavior analysts can then apply what they have observed to help teach effective communication strategies. This is especially crucial for children with autism, as Bourret explains, “Often times we see problem behavior arise due to communication issues. Because of this, nothing is more important than teaching effective communication and social interaction. We can help our students open up their worlds by giving children with autism a way to share their wants, needs, and interests. Through establishing communication, we can connect with them on a profound level. We learn who they are, we get to know each other, and we build lasting relationships.”
For Bourret, helping children with autism is a driving force behind both his work as Associate Clinical Dirctor for NECC and his role as a professor in the graduate program at WNEU. “NECC’s master’s and doctoral candidates have a really unique opportunity in that they can study in one of the best behavior analysis programs in the world, while also applying what they are learning in their work with NECC students,” says Bourret. “This arrangement benefits both parties. Our graduate candidates get to have a truly immersive, comprehensive educational experience, while the NECC students are being educated and cared for by a population that is invested in their field and cares about providing the best treatment.”
By working with graduate students, Bourret is helping shape the next generation of behavior analysts that will continue to care for children with autism. He hopes for his students to help fill the need for autism educators and caregivers not just at NECC, but around the world as well. “When graduate students finish their degrees as part of NECC’s partnership programs, they are prepared to make an impact in the world of autism. Everyone who comes through NECC, or studies the behavior analysis field, is a part of a larger overall community, united in improving the lives of children with autism. To be a part of that, and to be recognized for an award related to that in the receiving the Excellence in Teaching Verbal Behavior Award, is truly an honor.”
Bourret has been with NECC since 2003. Prior to his time with NECC and teaching at WNEU, Bourret completed graduate work at the University of Florida, achieving his M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology in 2003 and 2005, respectively. In 2004, he became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
About The New England Center for Children
The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) is an award-winning autism education center and research institute. Our community of teachers, researchers, and clinicians have transformed the lives of thousands of children with autism worldwide through education, research, and technology. The Center provides comprehensive services to maximize independence: home-based, day, and residential programs, partner classrooms in public school systems, consulting services, the ACE® ABA Software System (www.acenecc.org), teacher professional development, and research on educational best practices.
NECC is committed to staff professional development, partnering with local colleges to provide on-site graduate training and degrees at little to no cost to the NECC teacher. The result is a growing pool of exceptional teachers trained in best-in-class methodologies, whether they continue their careers at NECC or move on to public schools or private agencies. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at www.necc.org.