Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #444

Applied Behavior Analysis for All: Building Systems to Help Children Through Transdisciplinary Behavioral Approach

Monday, May 27, 2019
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Swissôtel, Event Center Second Floor, St. Gallen 1-3
Area: DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Nirvana Pistoljevic, Ph.D.
Chair: R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
NIRVANA PISTOLJEVIC (Edus-Education for All)
Nirvana Pistoljevic received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University. Then, from Teachers College she received an M.A. in General and Special Education, Ed.M. in Instructional Practices in Special Education and an M.Phil. in Behaviorsim. In 2008, she received a Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis in Education from Columbia University, where she has been teaching for the past 9 years at the Graduate School of Education. Dr. Pistoljevic has achieved the rank of Assistant Research Scientist through the CABAS® system and is a published researcher and invited lecturer in the fields of education, psychology, behavioral science, e-learning, early childhood development, and language development. Her current research interests include development of early childhood sevices, science of teaching, behavioral approach in assessment, early childhood development, language development, observational learning, inclusion, behavior-environment interactions, teacher training and behavioral systems. Also, Dr. Pistoljevic is committed in helping children with Autism and other developmental disorders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she is one of the founders of an NGO “EDUS-Education for All” committed to advancing educational practices in this country. She is currently spending most of her time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she is working with the UN agencies (UNICEF and UNDP) and USAID, training her staff of 60 professionals, providing education and services for over 200 children through 4 different EDUS programs, running first Early Intervention program in BiH, conducting research and writing. With the support of a UNICEF grant, she created first B&H developmental behavioral screening and monitoring tool for detection of developmental delays and/or monitoring children’s’ development birth through start of school, also an evaluation and educational program creating tool for children with and without developmental disorders, and curricula for parent education and future parent education. Currently, in partnership with UNICEF in B&H, she is conducting preschool and schoolteachers training, developing early detection and intervention systems, and developing materials for transdisciplinary teams “around the child”.  She is also working with UNICEF- Palestine on different modalities on implementation of National Early Detection and Intervention Policy, creating the early detection and intervention system, and training the professional staff from health, education, higher education and social care sectors. In B&H with the support of an USAID research grant, with the transdisciplinary team of professors form UK and USA, she is work on the validation of the developmental screening and monitoring app, development of protocol for ASD diagnostics, and research on the best model of early intervention services for B&H and low and mid-income countries.  With the Public Health Institute and Ministry of Health of Montenegro, she is working on developing a first Center for Children Diagnosed with Autism, where all children in additoin to diagnostics will be able to receive education and support services. With UNICEF Serbia, she is working on traning preschool and kindergarten teachers on best evidence-based practices for sucessful inclusion of all chidren, and creating a model for development and implementation of Serbian version of IFSP and IEP. She is also a president of a Bosnian-Herzegovinian-American Academy of Arts and Sciences (BHAAAS), and organizes and chairs a largest multidisciplinary scientific conference in Balkans every year. She  is also one of 9 nominees for 2019 Brock International Prize in Education.

EDUS-Education for All is a non-for-profit organization trying to bring science, newest methods and conduct research in the fields of early detection, diagnostics, intervention, and inclusion of children with developmental disorders. EDUS creates systematic approaches and trains transdisciplinary teams of service providers using behavioral principles to advance health, education and social care systems in low resource countries. In partnership with UNICEF, USAID and relevant ministries in Bosnia and Herzegovina, EDUS was able to work on developing Early Detection and Intervention concepts for the country, and to provide services based on a behavioral but transdisciplinary approach for thousands of children through health, education and social care systems. We have created and standardized a behavioral developmental instrument, to detect and monitor early childhood development and tested it on over 2500 children in order to create developmental norms for the country. Now as an easy to use App, this behavioral tool will aid pediatricians in early detection and monitoring. Same process has now been started with UNICEF-Palestine for children in Gaza and West Bank, creating their developmental norms and behavioral approach to screening, monitoring, and advancing development. I will also talk about our research in application of technology and molecular biology to help detect and diagnose children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and our research on methodologies for inducing language and other developmental milestones when they do not develop naturally. Our goal is development of reliable and evidence based methods for low and mid-income countries in order to advance health and education practices for children with and without disorders. We focus on transdisciplinary research and projects based on collaboration of medical, technical and social sciences. I will show you how using the science of Applied Behavior Analysis across several mid-income countries with limited resources can promote early childhood development with concrete steps, measures, tools and applications. It’s a showcase of the power behavioral science has for advancement of outcomes for all human kind.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students. 

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify critical components of Early Detection and Intervention Systems needed for a country to be able to provide services to children with developmental disorders in early childhood; (2) apply concrete steps in order to create a behavior-based transdisciplinary approach to intervention; (3) communicate with professionals from other fields using behavioral tools; (4) use applied behavior analysis in collaboration with other fields to promote early childhood development.



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