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Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


Nisonger Center

Program Orientation

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) area of the Psychology Graduate Program provides scientific clinical psychology training to students with a particular focus on individuals with IDD (e.g., intellectual disability, autism, and other neurodevelopmental conditions). The IDD Psychology program is nationally accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS), which provides oversight and accreditation for clinical science training programs, including “hybrid” programs that integrate clinical psychology with one or more complementary scientific perspectives  (e.g., intellectual and developmental disabilities).

The Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS)- accredited Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) area of the Psychology Graduate Program has a unique status among the nine areas in the Department of Psychology. Its faculty members are housed at the Nisonger Center and contribute to the missions of both the Department of Psychology and the Nisonger Center. The Nisonger Center is one of 67 federally funded University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in the country. UCEDDs are interdisciplinary centers with a mission of conducting research, providing training, and offering clinical services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Administratively, the Nisonger Center falls under the OSU Office of Health Sciences. Although its Psychology faculty members are employees of the Nisonger Center, their tenure initiating unit (TIU) is either the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences (Lecavalier, Tassé, Walton) or the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health in the College of Medicine (Havercamp, Witwer).

Scientific clinical psychology fully applies to individuals with IDD, just as in non-disabled groups and is a specialization in its own right. The IDD population comprises individuals with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, and a myriad of other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as various genetic disorders, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Although only 3% of Americans have IDD, they have high needs for psychological services and supports over their lifespan. The importance of training clinical psychologists to meet the needs of the IDD population through high-quality clinical service and research is recognized by several national bodies, including the American Psychological Association Division 33 (Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorder) and the National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD).

IDD Psychology is ideal for students who are interested in any area of clinical psychology practice or research relevant to IDD. Areas in which students have focused in the past include test development, social supports, problem behavior, assessment/diagnosis, applied behavior analysis, treatment of the co-occurrence of mental health problems and IDD, and parent training. The IDD program espouses the clinical science model of education and training. Students who graduate from this program will be well equipped to pursue a career in IDD psychology as a researcher, clinician, and/or faculty member. IDD students will be engaged in conducting research, are expected to present their research findings at professional conferences, and to publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals. They will gain knowledge in areas such as etiology of developmental disabilities (e.g., intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder), ethics and professional issues in psychology, psychological characteristics of these clinical populations, assessment and diagnostic procedures, and evidence-based prevention and treatment approaches. In addition to having experience in conducting scientific research and becoming knowledgeable in the abovementioned areas, students will receive in-depth clinical training (e.g., practicum and internship experiences). Graduates are expected to be proficient in functional behavior assessment, clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral and mental health problems in children and adults with IDD. They will develop a solid knowledge and skill set in evidence-based practices, and they will have the necessary research skills to extend the boundaries and application of this knowledge. Graduates of the IDD psychology program will be well positioned for successful careers as scientifically-focused clinical psychologists and leaders in the field.

Program of Study

Students write a research-based master's thesis in IDD after two years of graduate study, then prepare for the Candidacy Examination (CE). Successful completion of the CE admits them to Ph.D. candidacy. The doctoral dissertation is based on research in an area of IDD psychology. Students are required to complete a one-year pre-doctoral clinical internship.

For more information: https://nisonger.osu.edu/idd-psychology/ 


The hub of program activity, training, and research is the Nisonger Center. Clinical and research experience are also available through Nationwide Children's Hospital, the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and at other sites in and around Columbus.

Financial Support

IDD students are eligible for University and Department funding. Research assistant positions are available through the OSU Nisonger Center and affiliated programs.  


Affiliated Faculty

Emeritus Faculty