May Institute Mourns the Loss of Edward G. Carr, Ph.D.


Edward G. Carr, Ph.D., BCBA, an international pioneer in autism treatment research and a dear friend and esteemed colleague of May Institute, died on June 20, 2009. Dr. Carr and his wife, Ilene Wasserman, Ph.D., were both killed as the result of an automobile accident caused by a drunk driver in Wading River, N.Y.

“Ted was a friend, a colleague, and an outstanding teacher and mentor to the staff at May Institute,” said May Institute’s President and CEO Walter P. Christian, Ph.D., ABPP. “His visits were times of incredible learning and great enjoyment that left us all with gratitude for the time he spent with us. We will miss his keen insights and his sense of humor.”

Dr. Carr was the co-developer of functional behavior assessment and positive behavior support strategies used by researchers and practitioners worldwide. At the time of his death he was Director of the Research & Training Center on Positive Behavior Support for Autism & Developmental Disabilities at Stony Brook University where he taught for more than 30 years.

The author of more than 100 papers on issues related to applied behavior analysis and positive behavior support, Dr. Carr published a best-selling book, Communication-Based Intervention for Problem Behavior, in 1994. He lectured extensively, served on the editorial boards of 17 journals, and gave workshops in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

A member of May Institute’s professional advisory board for nearly 30 years, Dr. Carr was named to the Panel of Professional Advisors to the Autism Society of America in 2005. He also served on the professional advisory board of the National Autism Center, an organization whose initial development was sponsored by May Institute. In that capacity, he has played a pivotal role in the Center’s National Standards Project, an unprecedented effort to produce a set of standards for effective, research-validated education and behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Dr. Carr earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California at San Diego and was Medical Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA.

“I have known Ted Carr since we were students together in 1972 in the lab of Drs. Ivar Lovaas and Robert Koegel,” remembered May Institute’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dennis C. Russo, Ph.D., ABPP. “Throughout his career he led the field in the study of severe behavior problems in children with autism. His work deepened our understanding of the mechanisms of autistic behavior.”

Dr. Carr received numerous awards for his groundbreaking work including the Applied Research Award for Outstanding Contributions to Applied Behavior Research (American Psychological Association, 2001) and the Distinguished Research Award for Career Achievement (Association for Regarded Citizens, 1999). He was Fellow of the American Psychological Association and past president of the Association for Positive Behavior Support.