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NEW MEXICO: State has 150 ABA specialists; 2,000 needed

July 13, 2023, New UNM: Special Education Department celebrates program milestone http://news.unm.edu/news/special-education-department-celebrates-program-milestone

Ten years and 55 graduates later, UNM is responding to a critical need for Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

UNM’s Department of Special Education, in the College of Education & Human Sciences (COEHS) is filling a critical need in New Mexico.

Now with its 55th graduate, the Graduate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is creating Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) for the state. It’s a proper milestone for a program which just hit its 10th anniversary.

“It makes me feel really excited. Depending on which statistics you're looking at, we have been identified as a state where sometimes there are no behavioral health providers in an entire county, so for us to have prepared these individuals who are now providing this critical service for children and families just really warms my heart,” Special Education Department Professor Susan Copeland said….

With so many places with a need, it’s no surprise there’s an intense demand for people with these certifications. It goes well beyond that.

“When you look across the state of New Mexico for adults, there's just an incredible need for behavioral support for these populations and just not very many people with the training to do it. When they complete the certificate and pass the national exam, they become board certified,” Copeland said….

It’s a good proportion of Lobos making a difference in New Mexico. However, there are still only a total of around 150 behavior analysts to cover such a large number of clients.

“The need, I think, has always been there, but we didn't simply have the professionals. There has been a recognition across the state that we have many children and adults who need these services, and ABA is one very important way to provide those,” Copeland said.

She references a report, which says New Mexico has one of the most intense needs in the country. 150 BCBA’s is a start, but that report estimates to match the need, that total needs to be closer to 2,000….

“I get emails now less frequently, but I used to get emails almost weekly from families desperate, looking for services for their children. I still get them, but not nearly as often, so I know we're making progress,” she said….

That’s something Copeland is making a priority as the program moves forward–moving these behavioral analysts beyond the I-25 corridor. . “It is also a very high demand profession. We desperately need behavior analysts here in New Mexico, but we need them all over the country and indeed all over the world,” she said.


“Regularly, in one of my roles, I speak to international applicants who are trying to get that kind of certification and training to use in their own countries.”…


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