Debra Berry Malmberg

Debra Berry Malmberg
Associate Professor
(818) 677-6338
Office location:
ST 307



  • Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
  • BA, Davidson College
Specialty areas: Child Clinical, Developmental Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis

Courses Taught

  • Psy 313 Developmental Psychology & Lab
  • Psy 350 Principles of Learning and Behavior
  • Psy 558 Special Topics in Applied Behavior Analysis

**Currently accepting new undergraduate research assistants. For more information, check out our lab website:

Selected Publications and Presentations


Charlop-Christy, M. H., Malmberg, D. B, & Berquist, K. (2008). An application of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) with children with autism and a visually impaired therapist, Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 20, 505-525.

Charlop-Christy, M. H., Malmberg, D. B., Rocha, M. L., & Schreibman, L. (2007). Treating Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In R. J. Morris & T. R. Kratochwill (Eds.), The Practice of Child Therapy, (4th ed., pp. 299-335). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Research and Interests

My research focuses on designing and evaluating behavioral interventions for children with autism and their families. Additional research interests are parent education, family stress related to autism, and theory of mind development.
Rigid and Ritualistic Behaviors of Children with Autism: Rigid, ritualistic, and stereotypical behaviors are included in the diagnostic criteria for Autism; however, more research has focused on the social and communicative deficits present in autism than on these ritualistic behaviors. How can we better assess these behaviors in children with autism, and how do these behaviors impact the family? One current project involves developing a scale to assess these behaviors in children with autism and determine their impact on family stress levels. Another upcoming project will explore the function of these behaviors, which enables us to develop interventions to target the reduction of these behaviors.

Behavioral Interventions for Children with Autism:  My second line of research focuses on evidence-based interventions for children with autism. As the number of diagnoses of autism increases, many interventions have become popular despite little scientific evidence to support their use. This line of research involves studying the effectiveness of interventions for children with autism (e.g., PECS, Social Stories). These projects involve studying specific behavioral intervention techniques based on the scienceof Applied Behavior Analysis to aid in acquisition of skills for children with autism, including language development, socio-emotional development, and play skill development.

Students or families interested in being involved in research projects in this lab should contact Dr. Malmberg.