2020: Jill Harper

Melmark New England

Jill M. Harper, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LABA, is the Senior Director of Professional Development, Clinical Training, and Research at Melmark New England. Dr. Harper has been providing clinical services in the area of behavior disorders for almost 15 years. In addition to her clinical work, she holds an adjunct faculty position at Endicott College and is an active member of the research community, designing and disseminating applied research.


Handling emergency or crisis situations can be a challenge for first responders and other community professionals who encounter people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other intellectual disabilities, as they are often unfamiliar with the unique characteristics presented by these individuals. Building familiarity with such challenging behaviors can lead to more positive, de-escalating approaches and outcomes.


The SABA Public Awareness Grant will support Dr. Harper and the leadership team at Melmark New England in the development and evaluation of educational materials and a training program to teach proactive strategies for interacting with individuals with ASD or other intellectual disabilities during emergency or crisis situations. The curriculum, using behavioral skills training methodology (e.g., Miltenberger, 2003; Parsons, Rollyson, & Reid, 2012; Reid, 2017), will include both knowledge and performance competencies at the initiation of, throughout, and following the training.


Initial implementation will occur through ongoing collaborative relationships with community facilities. Pending the outcome of initial implementation, the training curriculum will be replicated across other organizations. As dissemination of the training curriculum grows, a train-the-trainer model will be developed, during which members of community organizations will be trained to implement the curriculum, collect data, and report all outcome measures with high integrity.


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