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Rita Honan
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Psychology


After a teaching career with children with profound disabilities and then kindergarten students, Dr. Honan practiced 8 years as a school psychologist in the U.S. (Florida), followed by 13 years in private practice in Counselling Psychology and Psychological and Behavioural Consultancy in a range of Developmental Disability Services, and Adolescent assessment and residential services. Since moving to Dublin in 1994, she has maintained an interest and practice in Counselling, Clinical and Educational Psychology as well as Applied Behaviour Analysis. She initatied the concept of 2 classes for students with Autism in mainstream primary schools which is now widespread in Ireland, and introduced the first University training programme in ABA in Ireland leading to an international qualification (Board Certified Associate Behaviour Analyst). She is very active in the Psychological Society of Ireland's ABA and Autism groups. Her research has been primarily in the area of Pivotal Response Training to improve the social development of children and young adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorders by involving mainstream peers.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Teehee, E., Honan, R. & Hevey, D. , Factors contributing to stress in parents of individuals with autistic spectrum disorders, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 2008 Journal Article, 2008

Grey, I.M., Bruton C., Honan R. , McGuinness, R. & Daly, M., A Comparison of Co-operative Learning in Mainstream versus Special Class Settings: Implications for Practice, Educational Pyschology in Practice, 23, (4), 2007, p317 - 327 Journal Article, 2007

Grey, I. M & Honan, R., Evaluating the Effectiveness of Teacher Training in Applied Behaviour Analysis., Journal of Learning Disabilities, 9, ((3)), 2005, p209 - 227 Journal Article, 2005

Murphy, E., Grey, I.M. & Honan, R., A Review of Co-operative Learning, British Journal of Special Needs Education, Research Section, 32, (3), 2005, p157 - 164 Journal Article, 2005

McCann, J., Minihan, E., Honan, R. and Grey, I. , Increasing social success for children with Asperger's Syndrome through peer-implemented Pivotal Response Training, Teaching Exceptional Children Journal Article,

Grey, I.M., Honan, R. & Murphy, E. , Increasing social behaviours in children with Aspergers Syndrome using pivotal response training procedures, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. Journal Article,

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Honan, R., ASDs for Clinicians - CD-ROM, Dept. of Health & Children Disabilities Office, 2006, - Software, 2006

McCann, J. & Honan, R., Supporting Inclusion: Strategies and accommodations for the primary classroom for students with intellectual disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders, 2005, - 11 pages Protocol or guideline, 2005

Murphy, E., Grey, I & Honan, R. , Implementation of a co-operative learning programme with a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, REACH Journal of Special Needs Education in Ireland, 18 , (1), 2004, p39 -49 Journal Article, 2004

Multiple Authors, Educational provision and support for persons with autistic spectrum disorders: Report of the task force on autism to the Minister of Education and Science, Dublin, Ireland, Government Print Office, 2001 Report, 2001

Research Expertise


Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome: Supporting those affected, their families and schools, including third level institutions. Focus on the development of key social interaction skills including 'training' of mainstream peers to elicit improved social behaviours of those with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Within TCD, the ASProject both provides direct services and explores how to identify and support students with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder to insure they complete college and maintain good mental health during these vulnerable years.


  • Title
    • Development & Delivery of supports to young adults with Autistic Spectrum conditions
  • Summary
    • This project is exploring how to identify students in college with an Autistic Disorder, provides a diagnostic interview & a referral with targeted recommendations to the Student Disability Service. Students then meet with the ASProject researchers, PG psychology students, who conduct quality of life, adaptive skills, social skills and mental health assessments. Intervention and support is provided to these students who are offered a Student-2-Student Supporter (through the Student Counselling Services) and participation in weekly social skills development group sessions with maintream peer models, based on Pivotal Response Training procedures. Individual support is also provided as needed or requested, e.g. interfacing with tutors, employers, and assisting to resolve any difficulties with family members or in the community. Transition planning out of college is also being developed and support is provided to TCD graduates on the Autistic Spectrum. Members of the local community with AS also participate in the group sessions (only). The driving objective of this project is: to become proficient in identifying students in college who have a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of AS or Autistic Disorder so as to involve them in a structured process of individual needs assessment, and then to collaboratively develop an individual multidimensional support plan, to implement monitor and revise the plan as needed during their time in college. A final purpose of this research is to develop a model of service to students with ASDs that can be successfully replicated nationwide.
  • Funding Agency
    • St. Stephen's Green Trust 2006-07
  • Date From
    • 2003
  • Date To
    • Longitudinal
  • Title
    • Furthering Inclusive Education in Irish Primary Schools
  • Summary
    • This project is the 5th year of a series of small scale experimental studies designed to assess which variables of the pivitol response training approach to including children with an autistic spectrum disorder with mainstream peers, are key variables in improving the social interaction/reaction skills of the children with an ASD. A parallel piece is refining procedures for the development of individualised inclusion plans and for school-wide inclusion plans for students on the Autistic Spectrum, for use throughout Irish primary schools. In 2007-08 secondary schools were added to this project.
  • Funding Agency
    • Department of Education & Science, Special Needs Section
  • Date From
    • 2002
  • Date To
    • 2007


Behavior Modification; Clinical Psychology; College Students; Educational Planning/Policy; Educational Psychology; Special Education



Association of Behavior Analysis (International), invited member of Supervision Task Force 2006-07

National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS) Advisory Board Member 2000-2002

Minister of Education and Science's Task Force on Autism, Invited Member 2001

Special Olympics World Games: Entertainment team co-ordinator for TCD based athletes and coaches 2003

Human Rights Advocacy Committee, Developmental Services, Broward County, Florida(appointed by Governor) 1987-1993

Awards and Honours

"Tigh Rita - Honan House", respite care facility named for contributions to the ERHA Beechpark Services for children with autism and their famiies 9.2000

Outstanding Advocate of the Year, ARC Broward, Florida 1994

PSI Division of Counselling Psychology, Recognition of Contribution to the Advancement of Counselling Psychology in Ireland 2003

Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, International Development Grant Award 2002


American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (since 1971)

Association of Behavior Analysis (International and Florida), member ABA Autism Special Interest Group

American Psychological Association, Divisions of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Behavior Analysis

Autism Society of America

Psychological Society of Ireland Associate Fellow, Registered Psychologist; Division Member- Counselling Psychology, Behaviour Analysis (founding committee member), and Educational Psychology. Special Interest Groups: Autism (founding committee member, treasurer), and Intellectual Disabilities. 6 year (former) member of Council.

Florida Psychological Association 2007 – Present