Governor Livingston introduced a new course this year: Introduction to Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education. Students who take this elective can expect to learn how to work with people with disabilities, about the principles of ABA and the fundamentals of educational and behavioral psychology. 

Nicole Sacci, special education and ABA teacher, is the instructor of this elective.  Sacci said students in the elective learn about the historical and social perspective of special education and people with disabilities, special ed law, principles of psychology & behavioral science, as well as the principles of ABA and various methods of teaching. The goal of this course is not only to inform the students, but allow them to connect and become more aware of people with disabilities. 

Sacci said, “The elective is beneficial for everyone.  Students with disabilities are included with their peers. Many of the students that sign up for the elective are interested in teaching or may know someone with a disability.” 

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Students who want to pursue a career as a special ed teacher or have an interest in psychology can gain valuable information and learning tools from the ABA elective. 

Sophomore Gillian Ham said, “I took the elective to deepen my understanding on how to communicate with my brother who has a disability.” 

Since this elective gives students helpful tools on how to interact on a deeper level with others, students like Ham could learn new ways to communicate. Learning how to connect with people who may seem different can unveil that everyone shares similar interests and is capable of forming real friendships. 

Although the elective is beneficial in an informative way, most importantly, this class can change lives for special needs students. People with disabilities deserve the same amount of respect and the same experiences as those without disabilities. 

Sacci said, “The goal is to make a more inclusive community, not only here at GL, but outside of school as well. We want to teach students to view people with disabilities as their equals. Just because they may need to learn differently does not make them lesser than anyone else.” 

Senior George Garcia said, “Special needs students should not be stereotyped because of their differences, as everyone deserves the same amount of respect and equal treatment.” The ABA course has allowed Garcia to add to his knowledge of how to make all students feel included and equal. 

The hope is that more students will be inclined to take the elective so the curriculum can expand to share as much information as possible and connect students even further. 

So far the elective has been a success. Sacci said, “The first semester was very positive so only small tweaks have been made.” 

The ABA elective has already made an impact on GL students through providing opportunities to learn different communication skills and creating new friendships.