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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #151
CE Offered: BACB
From Standardized Measurements to Biomarkers: The Emerging Science of Treatment Outcomes in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Research
Saturday, May 28, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 256
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Kaston Dariel Anderson-Carpenter (Michigan State University)
CE Instructor: Javier Virues Ortega, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: JAVIER VIRUES ORTEGA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Applied behavior-analytic (ABA) interventions have traditionally relied on frequent samples of operationally-defined performances compounded with unstandardized social validity measures as the sole basis of treatment evaluation. While this approach has served the field well for decades, it has faced fierce opposition from non-behavioral scientists who often rely on group-based studies and standardized outcomes as their lingua franca. This protracted conflict questions the very nature of scientific evidence and alienates behavior analysis from mainstream autism science. The conflict has an impact on how behavior analysis is viewed and portrayed, and has far reaching consequences on research funding, health and education policies, and, ultimately, availability of services. Yet, behavior analysts have failed to take up this generational challenge. With examples from his own work, the presenter will look at ABA research through the lens of an array of established and emerging clinical research outcomes including behavioral markers, standardized assessment coresets, biomarkers, and selected medical metrics. We will also discuss the contexts under which these various outcomes could be complementary to the behavioral dimension of ABA. Finally, we will lay a plausible roadmap of strategic research that could help to establish ABA intervention as a widely accepted evidence-based service for autism.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Autism professionals, certified behavior analysts, students of all levels, active ABA researchers

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the key differences in outcome research traditions in ABA and mainstream autism science; (2) discuss in the context of an ABA study the notion of treatment behavioral marker; (3) discuss in the context of an ABA study the notion of standardized outcomes coreset; (4) discuss in the context of an ABA study the notion of treatment biomarker.
JAVIER VIRUES ORTEGA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
Javier Virues-Ortega is a Ramón y Cajal senior research fellow at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) and honorary associate professor at The University of Auckland. Previously, he has been assistant professor of psychology at the University of Manitoba (Canada) and postdoctoral researcher at the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Spain). His research focuses on the evaluation of interventions based on applied behavior analysis (ABA) for people with and without disabilities. He has an interest in transferring mainstream outcome research methods into ABA. He is author of over one hundred specialized publications. His work has been cited thousands of times and has been featured in the health coverage policies and authoritative advice of international organizations including UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, ICHOM, and others. Virues-Ortega has served as associate editor or member of the editorial board for eight leading behavioral journals and has serve as member of the board of directors and executive committees of leading professional organizations including the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and the European Association for Behavior Analysis.



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