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Jackson, Miss.—Dr. Emily Thomas Johnson and Dr. Sheila Williamson have been reappointed to the Mississippi Autism Board for four-year terms ending June 2023.
Dr. Johnson is one of the original members of the Autism Board, which licenses Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts in the State. She was appointed to an initial four-year term in 2015 by Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a process involving the systematic application of interventions, such as positive reinforcement, based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors among individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders. Studies have demonstrated many children with autism experience significant improvements in learning, reasoning, communication, and adaptability when they participate in high-quality ABA programs.
Currently, there are 69 licensed Behavior Analysts and two licensed Assistant Behavior Analysts in Mississippi.
“We have made a lot of progress in the State toward making treatment more accessible by growing the number of licensed professionals practicing here, but we still need to attract more providers to Mississippi,” said Dr. Johnson, owner of Behavior, Attention, and Developmental Disabilities Consultants, LLC, and Integrated Health in Southaven. “I am honored to have been reappointed and am thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve.”
Working in the ABA realm for more than 15 years, most of Dr. Johnson’s work is focused on children with Autism and/or emotional/behavioral disorders in school districts in northwest Mississippi. Dr. Johnson is a Mississippi Behavior Analyst and Mississippi Licensed Psychologist. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Memphis, and Master of Arts and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Mississippi.
Dr. Sheila Williamson, a Clinical Psychologist and certified Behavior Analyst, is also a current member of the Mississippi Autism Board, first appointed by Reeves in 2016.
Dr. Williamson has worked with children with Autism, as well as children with emotional concerns, attention issues, and developmental disabilities for more than 30 years.
“The more licensed professionals we have operating in Mississippi, the better. Children who are diagnosed with Autism and other developmental disorders don’t have time to wait,” said Dr. Williamson, who is the Clinical Director at the Autism Center of North Mississippi in Tupelo, which serves children and families with Autism. “We need to support them with high quality treatment as early as possible.”
Other current Autism Board members include Dr. Jim Moore, co-Chairman, whose term ends in June 2021; Dr. Kasee Stratton-Gadke, co-Chairwoman, whose term ends in June 2020; and Dr. Krystal Thurman, whose term expires in June 2022.