Dr Jennifer Austin is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst who works with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). She teaches on a range of courses, including BSc (Hons) Childhood Development, MSc Behaviour Analysis and Therapy and the PgCert Behaviour Analysis Supervised Practice.
Describe what you do
My teaching and research focus on behaviour analytic applications in schools, especially with regard to teacher training, intervention planning and evaluation for typically developing children with severe behavioural challenges. I also works with mainstream and special schools to develop positive whole-school and individual intervention strategies.
How did you get into it?
I began working in schools with children with EBD when I was a PhD student and became inspired by the potential of behaviour analysis to change these children’s lives and set them on a more positive path. I have been doing this work for over 15 years and I learn something new every time I work with a child, his teacher, or his parents. Every child is different and behaviour analysis provides the science and technology to meet a child’s individual needs, and most importantly, help them reach their goals.
What do you enjoy about it?
This profession allows you to truly make a difference in the lives of children, their teachers and their families. I love to see the progress that children make and the ways their progress impacts positively on their relationships with others.
What have been the highlights?
Every successful child is a highlight! In terms of other highlights, recognition by my peers for my research and clinical work I’ve done is always a rewarding experience. For example, I’ve been elected as the President of the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis, appointed as the Education Board Coordinator for the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis. I’m often asked to speak at international conferences and training events about the work I do with children in schools.
Advice to people considering this career path
As with most applied professions, experience is very important. In addition to taking behaviour analysis modules in your undergraduate or postgraduate courses, try to secure placements where you can work with children with challenging behaviour. Our on-campus autism clinic is great place to get started.
What to read before class...
Behaviour Analysis for Lasting Change.