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Cynthia Rheney Johnson, PhD, BCBA-D

Job Title Director, Autism Center
Job Title Child Development Unit
Job Title Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Departments of Pediatrics & Psychiatry
Job Title Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Education, Department of Instruction and Learning
3420 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-692-8404 Phone
412-692-5679 Fax

Education and Training

Graduate School:

1989 University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC


1990 The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


  • American Psychological Association
  • Association for Behavior Analysis
  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • International Society for Autism Research

Board Certifications

  • Psychologist, PA
  • School Psychologist Certification, PA
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Doctoral Level  


  • Johnson, C.R., Handen, B.L., Zimmer, M., & Sacco, K.  (2010).  Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in young children with autism.  Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 22, 1-10.
  • Johnson, C.R., Butter, E.M., Handen, B.L., Sukhodolsky, D.G., Mulick, J., Lecavalier, L.,  Aman, M.G. et al. (2009).  Standardized observation analogue procedure (SOAP) for assessing parent and child behavior in clinical trials.  Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 34, 1-9.
  • Johnson, C.R., Handen, B.L.., Mayer-Costa, M., Sacco, K.  (2008).  Eating habits and dietary status in young children with autism.  Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 20, 437-448.
  • Johnson, C.R.  Handen, B.L., Butter, E. ,  Wagner, A., Mulick, J., Sukhodolsky, D.G.,  et al.  (2007).  Development of a Parent Management Training Program for Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders.  Behavioral Interventions, 22, 201-221.
  • Johnson, C.R. & Rakison, D.  (2006).  Early categorization of animate / inanimate concepts in young children with autism.  Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 18, 73-89.

    View Dr. Johnson's full list of publications from PubMed.

Biography Summary

Cynthia Rheney Johnson, PhD, BCBA-D, is director of the Autism Center in the Division of Developmental / Behavioral Pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and an associate professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Johnson received her doctoral degree from the University of South Carolina. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in child psychology and applied behavior analysis.

Her clinical and research focus on young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has conducted research in the assessment and both behavioral and medication treatments for children with autism and other developmental disorders. She is currently the principal investigator on two NIH-funded grants studying the efficacy of parent training in the treatment of sleep disturbance and in the treatment of disruptive behaviors. She is the co-principal investigator for the Autism Treatment Network as well as a study of nutrition and eating habits in children with autism funded by HRSA, the Health Resources and Services Administration. Current clinical responsibilities include assessments of young children suspected of autism. Dr. Johnson also teaches the Applied Behavior Analysis coursework at the University of Pittsburgh required for eligibility to apply for board certification as a behavior analyst. She further provides mentoring and supervision to doctoral graduate students.

Dr. Johnson is a licensed psychologist and a board-certified behavior analyst. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, Society for Child Development, Association of Applied Behavior Analysis, and International Society for Autism Research.

Last Update
August 2, 2011
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Last Update
August 2, 2011