New England Center for Children
Through a longstanding partnership, Hamilton students spend a semester at the New England Center for Children working intensively with children who have autism or other developmental disorders. The program provides Hamilton students who are interested in applied psychology and education practicial experience in special education and its applications, alongside and supported by professionals.
The center in Southborough, Mass., is an award-winning program that serves about 200 students between the ages of 18 months and young adulthood. Hamilton's joint program with the center balances course work with supervised practicum experience. Students return to Hamilton with a full semester's course credit: two practicum credits and two credits for courses they take at Western New England University or Simmons College in topics such as Applied Behavior Analysis, Programmed Learning and the Biological Bases of Mental Retardation.
About the center
The New England Center for Children provides a variety of services, ranging from individualized instruction focusing on social and basic skills to traditional elementary and secondary school classes. Instructional techniques are firmly based on empirical research.
Center instructors are carefully supervised as they learn to collect data to describe each student's behavior so that progress can be documented and analyzed. Instructors learn to apply the principles of operant conditioning in a state-of-the-art instructional setting.
Not only a school for children with autism, the facility also is an internationally recognized center for professional training in psychology and special education. It is a primary site for the graduate students in applied behavior analysis from Western New England College's master's and doctoral programs. Simmons College students in the graduate program in intensive special needs also receive coursework and supervised teaching experience at the center. Courses are offered by the center psychologists, all of whom have extensive background in applied behavior analysis.
Finally, the center supports many ongoing research projects focused on the education of children with autism. The director of research has a joint appointment with the Shriver Mental Retardation Research Center, and all of the Ph.D. psychologists have active research programs.