August 01, 2011

Grant leads to prestigious externship for student

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale student Brooke D. Walker of Springfield will serve a year-long educational externship in New York courtesy of a $20,000 grant award from the prestigious Fred S. Keller School for Autism to Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, professor and director of the SIUC Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Rehfeldt said the Keller school is an internationally recognized behavior analytic preschool and early intervention program serving children who do and do not have disabilities. The school, which serves as a research and demonstration center, is one of several Comprehensive Application of Behavior Analysis to Schooling (CABAS) accredited programs in the United States.

Walker is completing the final year of the behavior analysis and therapy doctoral program at the SIUC Rehabilitation Institute. She will be finishing her dissertation in New York as a collaborative project involving Rehfeldt and Doug Greer, who is a professor at Columbia University and the director and founder of the CABAS model. Rehfeldt’s Fred S. Keller School for Autism grant is enabling Walker to serve the externship at the New York school and complete her dissertation there.

“Because the school is part of such a prestigious system, it is an honor for Southern Illinois University’s Behavior Analysis and Therapy program and myself to have formed this relationship with the school and for Brooke to have this opportunity,” Rehfeldt said.

This isn’t Walker’s first career honor either, Rehfeldt notes.

The daughter of Gary and Lori Walker, she authored a paper that won an annual research paper competition sponsored by the Association for Behavior Analysis International verbal behavior special interest group in 2010. Walker, who earned her undergraduate degree in 2006 at Northern Illinois University, wrote about the effectiveness of employing a teaching technique commonly used in a lab in a classroom setting. “The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis” published the paper in its Winter 2010 issue.