CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Sept. 29, 1999
Wacker receives award from American Psychological Association
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care
specialist has received one of his profession's highest honors for his efforts
to help families of children with developmental disabilities who have severe
David P. Wacker, Ph.D., professor of pediatric psychology
at University Hospital School, received the award from his peers in the American
Psychological Association (APA). The 10,000-member association is the primary
professional organization for psychologists in the United States.
The Applied Research Award for Outstanding Contributions
to Applied Behavioral Research is awarded annually by the members of the Experimental
Analysis of Behavior division of the APA. The award is based upon contributions
made throughout the member's career.
Wacker attributes his reception of the award to his
study of how to assess and treat behavior problems among children with developmental
disabilities. "We took a systematic, longitudinal approach to carefully study
techniques used to assess and treat these children," Wacker said. "The assessments
we developed are now being used in many clinics in both the United States
For example, University College at Dublin started
using the assessments developed by Wacker last year following approval by
the Irish Health Board.
"The assessment techniques developed by Dr. Wacker
have changed the way that severe behavior problems, such as aggression and
self-injury, can be assessed in both the outpatient and home settings," said
Lynn Richman, Ph.D., UI professor of pediatrics. "His approach represents
a blend of basic and applied research that was necessary to show the underlying
basic principles for the assessments, and then to demonstrate their effectiveness
in actually assessing behavioral problems among these children."
"Dr. Wacker's efforts have been instrumental in helping
families cope with behavioral problems exhibited by children with developmental
disabilities," said Frank Morriss, M.D., UI professor and head of pediatrics
and medical director of the Children's Hospital of Iowa. "We've always known
that his work is outstanding, and it's gratifying that his peers have also
recognized his overall excellence."
Wacker is currently developing techniques that parents
can use in their homes with very young children to prevent behavior problems
from worsening. His research for the past seven years has been funded by the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) on the assessment
and treatment of self-injury and aggression among children age 6 and younger.
"What makes our approach unique is that parents conduct
all of the assessments and treatments, with only one hour of weekly consultation
from us," Wacker said. "Behavioral treatments work about three-quarters of
the time to reduce severe behavior problems and can be done by parents if
they are given the appropriate guidance and support."
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.