PSYCH 754 : Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Study of the behavioural aspects, aetiologies and therapeutic interventions for disorders usually diagnosed during childhood that are associated with reduced abilities to learn. Examples include intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) and pervasive developmental disorders (e.g., autism).

Course Overview

Study of the behavioural aspects, aetiologies and therapeutic interventions for disorders usually diagnosed during childhood that are associated with reduced abilities to learn. Examples include intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) and pervasive developmental disorders (e.g., autism).
 The emphasis in this course will be on examination of the research evidence for interventions designed to alleviate behaviourally defined “symptoms” associated with disorders first diagnosed in infancy, childhood or adolescence.
  Specific topics will be negotiated early in the course depending on students’ and staff research and clinical interests and experience. Topics may be centred around: a) biologically/medically defined classifications of disorder; b. disorders in behaviour that occur across some (e.g., aggression, self-injury) or many (e.g., deficits in communication, socialization) of those classifications; and c. interventions (e.g., behaviour analytic, biological) to change those behaviours and the research evidence for their efficacy.

Course Requirements

Restriction: PSYCH 752

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Provide detailed definitions of developmental disorders and mental retardation (intellectual disability). (Capability 1 and 4)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of aetiology, prevalence, prognosis, and classification of disorders usually first diagnosed in childhood that affect persons’ learning and adaptive behaviours. (Capability 1 and 4)
  3. Identify behavioural excesses and deficits associated with pervasive developmental disorders and mental retardation. (Capability 1)
  4. Discuss current social policy issues with respect to the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities. (Capability 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Locate and critically review the research literature concerning interventions for people with pervasive developmental disorders and other disorders usually first diagnosed in childhood that affect persons’ learning and adaptive behaviours. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  6. Make research-based recommendations concerning the efficacy of intervention proposals. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  7. Locate critically review the published literature on current/topical subjects. Specifically, be able to demonstrate knowledge in technical (e.g., appropriate terminology), (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Fulfil relevant task requirements from BACB tasklist (Capability 1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Summary of research: technical and lay 20% Individual Coursework
technical report 15% Individual Coursework
video summary 10% Individual Coursework
in class activity 5% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Summary of research: technical and lay
technical report
video summary
in class activity
Final Exam


Students will be able to access support as required through  Tuākana

Key Topics

MR, ID, PDD; Rights of people with disabilities; fads; EST; culture and disabilities; genetics; ASD; 

Learning Resources

There is no single required text but the following provides useful background on many issues:
Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A., & Rojahn, J. (Eds.) (2007). Handbook of intellectual and developmental disabilities. New York: Springer. [available as e-book via Voyager].
Readings will be recommended during the course. Students are expected to conduct their own literature searches to locate original research articles relevant to all topics. Advanced research literature searching using relevant databases will be assumed, e.g., PsycINFO, Web of Science, Medline, ERIC.

Special Requirements

course work as outlined

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures,4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 03:17 p.m.