Human Development and Child Studies

Pawley Hall
456 Pioneer Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3077
Fax: (248) 370-4242

Young boy playing with two sock puppets on his hands in a classroom.

Center for Autism

Oakland University’s Center for Autism promotes understanding and awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to improve quality of life for people impacted by ASD.

Since the mid-1980s, Oakland University (OU) has been educating teachers about Autism Spectrum Disorder and was one of the first universities in Michigan to offer an autism endorsement certificate for teachers. OU’s School of Education and Human Services (SEHS) faculty continue to provide leadership at the state level in autism initiatives including teacher competency guidelines and redefining autism in teacher preparation curriculum. Today, SEHS’ work includes promoting community awareness of autism, increasing support for OU students with autism, and hosting symposiums focused on quality of life issues.

The center for autism will be hosting a webinar series, titled "Navigating the Stressors of Covid-19 for Individuals with ASD and their Families." To view the webinar schedule and to register, visit the link below. 


Since 1985, Oakland University has consistently played a leadership role in the area of Special Education. Each year, the Department continues to enhance its graduate certificate and master's-level programs to ensure the best preparation of professionals in the areas of autism spectrum disorders. The commitment to effective teaching, leadership, and research makes Oakland University the place to begin or further special education careers.

The Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Master of Education in Special Education: Autism Spectrum Disorder prepares teachers for careers in support of individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Multiple Disciplines was created for individuals who wish to increase their knowledge of ASD but who do not have (and are not seeking) a state-approved teaching credential. It is designed to meet the increasing need for individuals working in the field other than teaching (counselors, occupational therapists, social workers, and others).

The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Certificate and the Master of Education in Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis prepares students for careers as behavior analysts. Our program is approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and fulfills course requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. Candidates must also complete a required practicum, have a master’s degree in Education, Psychology, or Behavior and pass the Board’s national exam to earn certification.

Additional information
Erica Ruegg, Associate Professor
(248) 370-2894

Diana Karditsas, Program Liaison
(248) 370-4415

Academics (ABA Clinic)

The Oakland University Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Autism Clinic is a nonprofit, center-based clinic located in 250 Pawley Hall that is dedicated to the treatment and research of ASD using ABA methodology. 

Practicum Overview
Make a difference in the life of a preschooler through the application of ABA principles in a center-based clinic. At the same time, earn University credits and get paid. 

  • Undergraduate and graduate student opportunities
  • SE 4930: satisfies psychology major behavioral health category requirement (4 credits)
  • Winter, fall and summer semesters available
  • 10 hours per week in the clinic
  • Two-hour seminar on Monday nights, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Assigned to a preschool student diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Trained as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

Evidence-Based ABA Treatments
Practicum students will implement evidence-based treatments, including:

  • Functional Communication Training
  • Discrete Trial Training
  • Toilet Training
  • Social Skills Interventions
  • Incidental Teaching 
  • Pivotal Response Treatment 
  • Activity Schedules 

Practicum students will help children with autism meet developmental milestones, such as: 

  • Communication
  • Reduce problem behavior
  • Increase play skills
  • Increase social skills
  • Increase classroom readiness skills
  • Increase preschool level academics 

Additional Information
For additional information or to learn more about the Oakland University ABA Autism Clinic, contact Jessica Korneder, ABA Clinic Director at (248) 370-3080 or


OUCARES, the outreach service of the Oakland University Center for Autism, is dedicated to providing support services for individuals on the spectrum and their families. The center provides autism awareness to the surrounding community to improve the quality of life for those dealing with autism. Several recreational and social skills services are offered, including programs for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ages four and up, in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.

Core programs include baseball, basketball, SNAG golf, soccer, social skills and art. Added programs over the past two years have been geared toward adolescents and adults with ASD. To accommodate these activities, in 2012, OUCARES expanded off the OU main campus and opened within the community, beginning with bowling leagues in Oakland and Macomb counties.

For additional information, visit the OUCARES website.


Faculty Research

Research at Oakland University’s Center for Autism is focused on conducting applied and translational research in:

  • advancing our understanding of the development and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • guiding best practices for improving treatment services for persons with ASD and their families
  • developing best-practice methodologies in training OU students interested in working with the ASD population

Currently, these research projects are directed under the leadership of Michael Kranak, Ph.D., BCBA-D. Research and partner programs include projects related to the development and treatment of young children with autism, the diagnosis of autism itself and early forms of self-injurious behaviors, early intervention with children at risk for autism, increasing functional and employable skills in relation to self-determination and the efficacy of enrichment and leisure activities on the quality of life and well-being of those with ASD and their families.

Research collaborations include the Judson Center, the Autism Alliance of Michigan and other regional and national universities.