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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Workshop Details

Previous Page


Workshop #W59
CE Offered: BACB — 
Defining and Incorporating Assent Into Your Interventions: A Nonlinear Constructional Analysis and Approach
Friday, May 26, 2023
4:00 PM–7:00 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4C/D
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Anna Linnehan, Ph.D.
AWAB ABDEL-JALIL (Endicott College / Great Leaps Academy / Eastern Florida Autism Center), ANNA LINNEHAN (Endicott College), SHEILA ANN ANN KLICK (Endicott College)
Description: Assent is presently a popular topic among behavior analysts given its inclusion in the 2022 BACB Ethics Code, and the current political climate around Applied Behavior Analysis. The Code defines assent as “vocal or nonvocal verbal behavior that can be taken to indicate willingness to participate in research or behavioral services...” (p. 7). Although there has been plenty of discourse around assent, its meaning remains ambiguous. Can assent, or lack thereof, be defined procedurally in terms of contingency arrangements? This workshop will begin by defining assent though a Nonlinear Contingency Analytic lens. The provided conceptualization defines assent based on the presence or absence of certain contingency arrangements, which goes beyond the common topographical definitions. True assent will be distinguished from apparent assent utilizing a degrees of freedom analysis. Examples and non-examples will be provided to illustrate this distinction. Attendees will then identify examples and non-examples of vignettes based on situations commonly encountered by clinicians working with Autism Spectrum diagnosed learners. If assent is determined to be absent or withdrawn, how can a clinician/practitioner proceed ethically while honoring the learner’s dissent? The Constructional Approach will be introduced as a way to create assent-informed programs by asking a few guiding questions related to desired outcomes, entry repertoires, maintaining consequences, and programming sequences. The answers will help clinicians create programs that build on learners' entry repertoires that lead to full participation in the program, while complying with the ethical guidelines on assent. Attendees will leave the workshop with a clear nonlinear contingency analytic definition of assent, be able to determine whether true learner assent is present, and tips/strategies of how to create a constructional program that incorporates and honors learner assent ethically.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, individuals will be able to:

1. Define assent functionally, and how to obtain it for ethical practice.

2. Identify examples and nonexamples of assent given commonly encountered situations in practice.

3. Assess for the presence or absence of assent and program for it to maximize ethical decision making.

Activities: Lecture, group activities, practice creating assent-informed constructional programs.
Audience: ABA practitioners, BCBAs, RBTs
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Assent, Consent, Constructional, Nonlinear Analysis



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh