PSYCH 754 : Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities


2022 Semester One (1223) (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 and pervasive developmental disorders (e.g., autism).

The emphasis in this course will be on 

1. The rights of people with intellectual disabilities

2. The role of culture in areas of diagnosis, assessment, and intervention

3. Whanau perspectives on disabilities

4. Examination of the research evidence for interventions designed to alleviate behaviourally defined “symptoms” associated with disorders first diagnosed in infancy, childhood or adolescence.

PSYCH 754 is part of the required course sequence for students in the Applied Behaviour Analysis Programme - working towards registration as a Psychologist and Behaviour Analyst.  However the course can also be taken by postgraduate students who have an interest in the area of disabilities.  This course includes learning that is relevant for a wide variety of roles within the disability sector, and has a strong emphasis on practical skills when working with individuals and their family/whānau.

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
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify and explain the definitions of developmental disorders and intellectual disability. (Capability 1)
  2. Explain and apply knowledge concerning aetiology, prevalence, prognosis, and classification of disorders usually first diagnosed in childhood that affect a person's learning and adaptive behaviours. (Capability 1)
  3. Describe behavioural excesses and deficits associated with pervasive developmental disorders and intellectual disability. (Capability 1)
  4. Discuss and critically evaluate current social policy issues with respect to the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities. (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Critique 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 and 6)
  6. Review and Critique the published literature on current/topical subjects. Specifically, be able to demonstrate knowledge in technical (e.g., appropriate terminology), as well as lay person terms (e.g., in speaking with a member of the public). (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 6)
  7. Write and present information and critical review in a form for lay audiences through brief written reports, lay presentations, and mock interview exercises (Capability 1, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Research Review 1 - includes report, and written lay summary (learning outcome 7) 20% Individual Coursework
Research Review 2 - includes report, lay summary and 5-min video presentation (Learning outcome 7) 30% Individual Coursework
Exam 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Research Review 1 - includes report, and written lay summary (learning outcome 7)
Research Review 2 - includes report, lay summary and 5-min video presentation (Learning outcome 7)

Special Requirements

Must complete assessments, some of which include in-class participation

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.  This course requires a 2-hour lecture once per week.  Assignments include two written research reviews (student selected topics), a brief lay report, a 5-min video presentation, and an in-class mock exercise with a peer.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at lectures and for work with other students at times during the semester.  Lectures are not typically recorded.

Learning 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.

See Talis list

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.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 01/11/2021 10:03 p.m.