The efficiency of behavior analytic intervention to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) increases when it is early, intensive, comprehensive, and long-lasting. This is particularly true for children with moderate to severe impairment. The above-mentioned key elements make behavior analytic intervention often inaccessible for most of the affected population in developing countries, such as Brazil. The main causes for that are: the shortage of trained professionals and the absence of specialized public services. Some of the families have the profile to be trained to participate in the intervention plan. Parental implementation may be an important tool for behavior analysts to deliver interventions with the required intensity, comprehensiveness, and extension. On the other hand, training technicians efficiently is another challenge. In this scenario, research focusing on the advancement of training procedures to develop implementation skills in parents of children diagnosed with ASD and also technicians is helpful. This presentation describes some of our applied research on teaching basic skills to implement behavior-analytic intervention to ASD. We describe our results with instructional video-modeling to teach parents to implement structured teaching and its impact on their respective children. We also compare results of implementation by parents to results of implementation by technicians. Research on training basic skills to implement incidental teaching is also reported, along with data on self-video-monitoring to prevent drifting in implementation by technicians. This research line as a whole is dedicated to developing useful tools for behavior analysts to quickly bring others to help in an intervention plan.
Students and professionals interested in the dissemination of Applied behavior analysis.
An Examination of Stimulus Control Over Topography-Based Verbal Behavior
Individuals without a fluent speaking repertoire may show disproportionate levels of strength across samples of verbal operants. Verbal behavior is inherently social in that its reinforcement is mediated by a listener. Common examples of verbal behavior within the applied literature include conditioning mand, tact, echoic, and intraverbal control. Sampling responses from these four operant classes allows us to infer the overall strength of these populations of behavior, and analyze differences in their relative strength. The null hypothesis for this type of analysis is that the levels of strength across these four operants is proportionate, a phenomenon commonly described as “fluency” that facilitates transfer of stimulus control across changing environmental conditions. The alternative hypothesis is that the levels of strength across these four operants is disproportionate, a phenomenon commonly described as “autism” that inhibits transfer of stimulus control due to certain response prepotencies. Assessment strategies and implications for treatment will be discussed.
An Examination of Derivational Stimulus Control Over Intraverbal Behavior
Individuals without derivational stimulus control may show disproportionate levels of strength across samples of intraverbal relations. Derivational stimulus control refers to the extent to which listeners effectively respond to verbal stimuli along a generalization gradient. Common examples of derivational stimulus control within the applied literature include reflexivity, symmetry, and transitivity. Sampling responses from these three operant classes allows us to infer the overall strength of these populations of behavior, and analyze differences in their relative strength. The null hypothesis for this type of analysis is that the levels of strength across these three operants is proportionate, a phenomenon commonly described as “listener comprehension” that facilitates prolonged verbal episodes and facilitates the development of other social skills. The alternative hypothesis is that the levels of strength across these three operants is disproportionate, a phenomenon commonly described as “autism” that inhibits transfer of stimulus control due to certain response prepotencies. Assessment strategies and implications for treatment will be discussed.
The rapid growth in computer technology means that nearly anything imaginable is either possible or will soon become possible. Behavior analysts, as specialists in learning and behavior, are uniquely trained to become strong collaborators on multidisciplinary teams focusing on projects to advance machine learning, simulation-based experiences, and much more. In this tutorial, I will discuss how we currently leverage such technology in my lab and integrate robotics, virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) in our behavior analytic research. I will share the outcomes of some of our current research projects as well as my collaborative efforts on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grants.
Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.
Dr. Kazemi is a Professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) where she has developed and teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework in behavior analysis for the past 10 years. She founded the Masters of Science Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2010 and has collaborated with the CSUN community to provide graduate students high quality supervision experiences. She currently has two different lines of research. Her applied research interests involve identification of efficient, effective strategies for practical training, supervision, and leadership. Her laboratory research involves leveraging technology (e.g., robotics, virtual or augmented reality) for efficient training and feedback using simulations. She is currently working on several nationwide large projects (e.g., with FEMA and NASA) with a focus on effective training and behavioral outcomes. She has received several mentorship awards including the ABAI Best Mentor Award, the Outstanding Faculty Award, the Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Outstanding Service Award. She has published articles and book chapters on a variety of topics including training, staff turnover, and the use of technology in behavior analysis. She is the leading author of a handbook written for both supervisors and supervisees that is titled, Supervision and Practicum in Behavior Analysis: A Handbook for Supervisees.
Traumatic experiences can have significant, and long-lasting, effects on the individuals who survive them. Frequently, clients who live through trauma experience a host of behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical health problems. When these individuals come to therapy, most of them are hoping that they will be able to eliminate the nightmares, memories, anger, anxiety, and other posttraumatic symptoms that they experience. In fact, most of them have tried many things (such as isolation, substance abuse, even suicide attempts) to manage these symptoms. However, what many of these individuals fail to realize is that their heroic efforts to avoid the pain of their posttraumatic experiences may actually be making things worse - and may even be the heart of the problem. In many ways, despite their best efforts, trauma survivors frequently find themselves trapped in a life that is largely devoted to the avoidance of pain. Effective empirically supported treatments for posttraumatic symptoms have been developed to aid trauma survivors in improving traditional PTSD symptoms. However, they are not universally effective, and not all clients are willing to engage in exposure-based treatment. In addition, given the high levels of psychiatric comorbidity with PTSD, treatments are needed that can cut across diagnostic categories and begin to treat presenting problems based on functional dimensions. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a contemporary behavior therapy, provides an alternative to the feel-good agenda and instead focuses on helping clients to reconnect with those ideals and principles for living that are deeply important to them and that dignify the difficult events that they have survived. This presentation will introduce clinicians to contextual behavioral tools to work with trauma survivors on identifying each person’s valued life directions and then help motivate experiential acceptance and behavior change in the service of those values.
Clinicians, supervisors, students
Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.
The first book-length treatment of RFT was published almost 20 years ago in 2001. In recent years, a number of conceptual advances have been made in the theory that have implications for its application in both educational and clinical domains. The first of these is the emergence of a type of periodic table for conceptualizing derived relational responding, known as the multi-dimensional, multi-level framework (the MDML). The presentation will explain how this framework provides opportunities for conceptualizing and remediating the core skills required for basic and advanced language and cognition in educational contexts. The second of these is a recent extension to the MDML framework, called the hyper-dimensional, multi-level framework (the HDML), that incorporates the orienting and evoking functions of stimuli that participate in derived relations. The presentation will explore how this recent extension connects basic research in RFT to clinical behavior analysis. Overall, the case will be made that although RFT should be seen as a work in progress, the theory continues to offer insights that will potentially improve functional-analytic methods for assessing and treating behavioral problems.
Behavior analysts with an interest in development and clinical behavior analysis.
The field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has grown faster than many of us have ever imagined. Current projections estimate there will be over 120,000 Behavior Analysts worldwide within the next 5 years. The panelists will provide the audience with their perspective about the current state of the field. In doing so the panelists will discuss areas in which ABA has excelled (e.g., functional analysis, certifying individuals, single subject designs) as well as areas requiring additional growth (e.g., marketing, collaborating with other fields, large scale outcomes). Additionally, the panelists will provide their perspective on the future directions of ABA (e.g., private equity, increasing number of technicians, licensure laws) and how behavior analysts can continue to promote quality behavioral intervention with the new challenges. All Board Certified Behavior Analysts have an ethical responsibility to our profession to “uphold and advance the values, ethics and principles of the profession of behavior analysis” (BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts, Section 6.01). As such, the panelists will also discuss current and future ethical responsibilities to the field. Questions and comments from the audience will be encouraged throughout.
Graduate students, practitioners, researchers, and professors.
Human behavioral pharmacology methods have been used to rigorously evaluate the effects of a range of centrally acting drugs in human beings under controlled conditions. Methods like drug self-administration and drug-discrimination have been adapted from non-human laboratory animal models. Because humans have the capacity to communicate verbally, self-report methods are also commonly used to understand drug effects. This presentation will provide an overview of these traditional human behavioral pharmacology methods, as well as more novel measures that have been introduced to the field. Representative data will be shared and the benefits, challenges and translational relevance of each method will be discussed. This session will cover guiding principles in the design of human behavioral pharmacology studies (e.g., using placebo controls, testing multiple doses) along with ethical (e.g., avoiding enrollment of individuals seeking treatment, determining capacity to consent) and safety (e.g., dose selection, pre-screening of participants for exclusionary health problems) that must be addressed when conducting these types of studies.
The evolutionary theory of behavior dynamics (ETBD) is a complexity theory, which means that it is stated in the form of simple low level rules, the repeated operation of which generates high level outcomes that can be compared to data. The low level rules of the theory implement Darwinian processes of selection, reproduction, and mutation. This tutorial is an introduction to the ETBD, and will illustrate how the theory is used to animate artificial organisms that behave freely, and continuously, in any desired experimental environment. Extensive research has shown that the behavior of artificial organisms animated by the theory successfully reproduces the behavior of live organisms, in qualitative and quantitative detail, in a wide variety of experimental environments, including concurrent ratio schedules with equal and unequal ratios in the components, and concurrent interval schedules with and without punishment superimposed on one or both alternatives. An overview and summary of the research testing the ETBD will be provided. The material interpretation of the theory as an instance of supervenient realism will also be discussed. Finally, possible future directions will be considered with an eye toward identifying the most valuable path or paths for future development.
Behavior analysts interested in the basic science; individuals interested in computational theories of behavior or machine learning; individuals interested in modeling clinically significant human behavior.
J. J McDowell received an A.B. from Yale University in 1972 and a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1979. After completing his clinical internship, he joined the faculty of Emory University, where he is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology. Dr. McDowell is also a licensed clinical psychologist, and maintains a private practice of behavior therapy in Atlanta. Dr. McDowell's research has focused on the quantitative analysis of behavior. He has conducted tests of matching theory in experiments with humans, rats, and pigeons, has made formal mathematical contributions to the matching theory literature, and has proposed a computational theory of behavior dynamics. He has also written on the relevance of mathematical and computational accounts of behavior for the treatment of clinical problems. Dr. McDowell's current research is focused on his computational theory of selection by consequences, including studies of behavior generated by the theory's genetic algorithm, and possible implementations of the theory in neural circuitry. His work, including collaborations with students and former students, has been funded by NIMH, NSF, and NIDA. Dr. McDowell is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
Teaching children to play is an integral part of development because it sets the occasion for having social and communicative interactions with peers, increases the likelihood of learning in natural and inclusive settings, and offers flexibility to be used in multiple environments (Barton & Wolery, 2008). Children with disabilities are observed to engage in spontaneous play less often and demonstrate fewer varied pretend play behaviors than children with typical development (Barton, 2015). The long-term effects of an impoverished play repertoire are observed in social interactions later in life. The purpose of this symposium is to review the research supporting the efficacy of the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC) as an effective tool to systematically assess and teach both independent and sociodramatic pretend play and language skills to children ages 2-7. The PPLAC is a behaviorally-based curriculum formulated from the typical developmental sequence of play and language and utilized to establish and expand a child's pretend play repertoire. The five elements of pretend play are identified and separated in teachable components including: agent of play, object of play, category of play, advanced play and the essential skills to sociodramatic play.
BCBA, BCBA-D, BCaBA, SLP, Special educators
Teaching Single Play Actions and Corresponding Vocalizations to Children With Autism Utilizing the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum
Children diagnosed with autism and other developmental delays often demonstrate a deficit in toy play when compared to typically developing peers and frequently require specific interventions to acquire appropriate toy play (DiCarlo & Reid, 2004). Teaching play skills to children diagnosed with autism by isolating the individual components within each stage of play can increase acquisition, maintenance, and generalization. The purpose of this study was to replicate the research presented by Nancy Champlin and Melissa Schissler to teach four children diagnosed with autism, ages 3-7, with varying profiles, single play actions and vocalizations across 20 targets in Stage 1: Single Agent from the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC). Actions and vocalizations were taught across three elements of pretend play: agent, object, and essential skills to socio-dramatic play. Following mastery of single play actions with corresponding vocalizations, generalization to untrained toy items was assessed. Facilitators will discuss the modifications to the PPLAC made to accommodate the barriers presented by higher-needs participants.
Teaching a Sequence of Three Play Actions and Corresponding Vocalizations to Children With Autism Utilizing the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum
Play skills demonstrated by children diagnosed with autism is often lacking in symbolic or social qualities (MacDonald, Sacramone, Mansdielf, Wiltz, & Ahearn, 2009). The quality of children’s pretend play increases as they learn to sequence one play action after another (Stagnitti & Lewis, 2014). The purpose of this study was to utilize the developmental sequence of play and evaluate the effectiveness of teaching a series of 8 components encompassing the second developmental stage of play in the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum (PPLAC), chaining play. Least-to-most prompting was used to teach a chain of three play actions and vocalizations to three children diagnosed with autism, ages 4-7. A sequence of play actions and vocalizations was targeted across agent of play, advanced play, and the essential skills to sociodramatic play. The outcome of this study demonstrated the efficacy of the eight teaching components as steps to teach all three children a chain of play actions with corresponding vocalizations across agent of play and object of play, independently and with peers.
Teaching a Sequence of Seven Play Actions and Corresponding Vocalizations to Children With Autism Utilizing the Pretend Play and Language Assessment and Curriculum
Pretend play provides critical learning opportunities for all children in their everyday lives (Ozen, Batu, & Birkan, 2012) and behaviorally-based interventions have been effective in teaching children with autism appropriate play skills (Palechka & MacDonald, 2010). Deficits in play are linked to poor social relationships, limited expressive language, and high rates of stereotypic behavior (Casby, 2003; Lifter, 2005). The purpose of this study was to examine the use of a script fading intervention to teach two children diagnosed with autism between the ages of 5 and 7 years old a sequence of seven independent play actions and corresponding vocalizations for one character role in a multi-role play scheme. A multi-role play scheme involves complimentary character roles that are dependent on each other (e.g., pizza shop customer and pizza shop cashier). A multiple baseline design across play schemes was utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of script fading to teach the sequence of play. Script fading was determined to be an effective intervention for teaching a sequence of independent play.
Teaching Complimentary Character Roles Within a Play Scheme to Facilitate Social Pretend Play for Two Children Diagnosed With Autism
Both independent and sociodramatic play is vital to a child’s development. Children often relate to one another with compatible roles within a play scheme engaging in reciprocal roles that reflect complimentary social relationships (Goldstein & Cisar, 1992). The purpose of this study was to teach two children diagnosed with autism complimentary character roles in a play scheme. Each participant was taught a sequence of seven actions and corresponding vocalizations one for the primary role in the camping play and one for the secondary role in the camping play scheme. Contingent on each participant independently acquiring the character role in the target play sequence the participants were taught to engage in sociodramatic play by alternating actions and corresponding vocalizations to expand on the sequence of play that was taught. Acquisition of the independent play scheme and alternating actions with a peer were assessed and generalization to novel schemes and peers was evaluated.
The term “trauma-informed schools” has achieved buzzword status in our current educational landscape, fueled by the urgency schools feel to address the devastating effects of trauma on the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning of our students. However, there is no clear consensus regarding the inputs, or the core components, of trauma-informed schools and there have been no rigorous evaluations of their outputs, or the effects on students, teachers, or schools. If trauma-informed schools are to become more than a passing trend, we must work harder to describe the inputs, document the outputs, and explain the complex processes that link the two. In this presentation, I will summarize the core components of trauma-informed schools, identify key implementation factors thought to facilitate the adoption and maximize the impact of trauma-informed approaches, and review strategies to evaluate the impact of trauma-informed schools.
Educational practitioners and researchers.
Stacy Overstreet, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at Tulane University. Over the course of her career her research has focused on how sociological, cultural, familial, psychological, developmental, and biological processes influence and interact with one another over time to shape child adaptation to trauma. Over the past ten years, she has translated that research to inform the implementation and evaluation of trauma-informed schools. She has published several empirical and conceptual papers related to these areas and she was co-editor of a 2016 special issue on trauma-informed schools in the journal, School Mental Health. Dr. Overstreet is a founding member of the New Orleans Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative. Her work through the Collaborative includes a grant from the National Institute of Justice to determine whether a multi-component implementation strategy for trauma-informed schools improves school safety as well as a grant from the Department of Justice to develop and evaluate a Train the Trainer model for the implementation of trauma-informed schools.
Miranda Morris, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethesda, MD. She treats a broad range of difficulties and specializes in trauma and anxiety. Miranda is a Peer Reviewed ACT Trainer and the founder of DC ACT, a organization with two primary objectives: 1) the dissemination of contextual behavioral therapies in the DC region and beyond, 2) the provision of support and training opportunities for aspiring ACT trainers. Miranda conducts regular workshops in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and related contextual behavioral therapies including Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) and Clinical RFT. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) and is President Emeritus of the the Mid Atlantic Chapter of ACBS (MAC-ACBS).
Chrish is a Feldenkrais® practitioner (1998) who works with people of all ages and backgrounds, using movement as a primary tool for improving self-awareness, posture, thinking, voice, and overall health and wellness. Chrish is also an actor, producer and director. She is passionate about using her diverse skills and background to help people find their optimal selves, innate dignity and composure. Chrish has been teaching the Feldenkrais Method® across the world for over 21 years in places such as the U.S., Ghana, Morocco, France, and Nepal. During her teaching of the Feldenkrais Method, Chrish offers her students an enriching experience consisting of mental and physical improvement through natural, easy, and pleasurable ways of moving, using the brain’s amazing capacity to reorganize the body. In addition to working with performing artists and business executives alike, Chrish specializes in working with children with disabilities and trauma, and is a graduate of the Anat Baniel Neuromovement® Method for Children. Her studies with Ruthy Alon (Movement Intelligence) have also informed her work in many ways. Chrish has served three terms on the national Board of Directors of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America and has chaired numerous annual Feldenkrais Method® conferences in North America.
Functional communication training (FCT) has strong empirical support for its use when treating socially reinforced problem behavior. However, treatment effects often deteriorate when FCT procedures are challenged, leading to the recurrence of problem behavior, decreased use of the functional communication response (FCR), or both. Researchers have accordingly described a number of strategies to improve the long-term effectiveness of differential-reinforcement procedures (e.g., FCT). For example, Wacker et al. (2011) assessed the maintenance of FCT-treatment effects by periodically exposing the FCR to periods of extinction and found that additional exposure to FCT helped guard against the disruptive impact of later periods of extinction. Basic researchers have described similar modifications to behavior-reduction procedures based on quantitative theories of behavior (e.g., Behavioral Momentum Theory and Resurgence as Choice) that also should help mitigate treatment relapse. Our research team has recently begun investigating
BCBAs, applied and basic researchers
The talk will describe the properties of neurons in the brain’s reward systems and how their action contributes to economic decision-making. Each of several reward systems, including the dopamine neurons, striatum, amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex, play a unique role in these processes. The details of this function are currently being investigated using designs based on behavioral theories, such as animal learning theory, machine learning and economic utility theory.
Anyone interested in brain processes.
Wolfram Schultz is a graduate in medicine from the University of Heidelberg. After postdoctoral stays in Germany, USA and Sweden, and a faculty position in Switzerland, he works currently at the University of Cambridge. He combines behavioural, neurophysiological and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neural mechanisms of rlearning, goal-directed behaviour and economic decision making. He uses behavioural concepts from animal learning theory and economic decision theories to study the neurophysiology and neuroimaging of reward and risk in individual neurons and in specific brain regions, including the dopamine system, striatum, orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.
The Wright Brothers first powered flight by a human lasted 12 seconds in 1903. A year later—using processes of variation, testing in the real world, and selection—the Wright brothers had an airplane that flew for 90 minutes—an improvement of 450 times. Today, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner—my favorite aircraft with nearly 3 million air miles between American, United and the deceased Pan Am in my life—can fly straight up during takeoff and fly from New York to Sydney non-stop. The aircraft improved a million times over since the first powered flight, and a result of continuous variation, testing and selection.
Applied Behavior Analysis, as conceived by Don Baer, Mont Wolf, and Todd Risley, was a technical methodology to achieve greater good that philosophers of many stripes posited. The contingencies of reinforcement on behavior analysts, determine how well and thoughtful the behavioral technology gets selected to achieve the vision conceived my dissertation advisors.
Reading through the older Journals of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA), it is clear that many of the second-generation grad students, like me, were thinking and testing ABA for improving all manner social and behavioral ills. If you flip through those JABA’s, you can find all sorts of studies that could have been turned into commercial, real-world products and services that could have made an enormous beneficial change in our precious blue water and green jewel in space and for its inhabitants. That said, most of the contingencies, were and still are, for publications and grants, rather than real-world change. Outside of that, today, the major employment is for behavioral specialists working with children with Autism or other disorders.
Only a few ABA “products” are true large-scale enterprises, one of those being the PAX Good Behavior Game® and Triple P Parenting both touching millions of people. Both PAX GBG and Triple P have deep roots in the original science, but are both sold, trained, and supported around the world to very diverse customers.
My talk is about how to build the First Carbon Based Valley of behavioral scientists (mimicking the Silicon Valley) to develop, test and disseminate practical, proven, cost-effective strategies rooted in behavioral science to be scaled up, sold, implemented well with sustainable effects on human wellbeing for whole populations—not just private practice clients or persons with diagnoses. I will use examples of the population-level strategies I’ve built my career on: working with Sesame Street, Implementing a National Safety Program in New Zealand, state-level multiple baseline on tobacco control, parenting interventions, mission readiness involving military families, reducing county-wide meth use, and, of course, the Good Behavior Game. All of this has been done in the context of a for-profit business engaging in continuous improvement based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.
My call to the audience is to create the First Carbon Valley—linking early career and established career behavioral scientists to better the world with commercialized, continuously-proven behavioral science. I am willing to help start and support this effort, which we have already begun to do informally.
Dennis D. Embry received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, focused on using ABA for population-level efforts with Sesame Street and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety—ultimately implementing that work throughout New Zealand. Dr. Embry is president/senior scientist at PAXIS Institute in Tucson, and co-investigator at both Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. Founded in 1998, PAXIS Institute is an international prevention science company, focused on preventing mental, emotional, behavioral and related physical disorders at population-level. He is a SAMHSA/CMHS National Advisory Council member, the board of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, and the scientific advisory board of the Children’s Mental Health Network. In the 1990s, he implemented the first RCT at population-level to reduce youth violence (PeaceBuilders) using ABA principles. In 1999, he began replicating the longitudinal Hopkin’s studies of the Good Behavior Game. Today Dr. Embry’s prevention efforts affecting more than one million children in 38 states, multiple provinces of Canada, and EU countries with multiple studies showing population-level reduction of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders using PAX GBG and evidence-base kernels. As grad student, Dr. Baer (his advisor) asked Dennis why he wanted to study ABA having a political and history background, the answer: “I want to use science to make our world a better place for children.”
Presidential Scholar Address: Treating Antisocial Behaviors Among Children and Adolescents: From Behavior to Social Context
Conduct Disorder in contemporary psychiatric diagnosis systems refers to a pattern of antisocial behaviors including acts of aggression, property destruction, stealing, vandalism, and cruelty. This is a lifelong impairing condition that has enormous costs to individuals, families, and society. This presentation highlights the problem, risk and causal factors and current treatments. One of the treatments we have studied is parent management training, which relies on principles and techniques of behavior analysis. Changing child, adolescent, and parent behavior seemed to be the major challenge as my work began. That turned out not to be anywhere near as daunting as addressing the challenges in society that directly support, foster, and in some cases cause aggression and antisocial behavior. The presentation will convey limitations of current intervention research, using my own work as a case study, and attend to broader foci that fall outside of any single model of behavior or discipline. Novel models of intervention delivery will be illustrated to convey ways to reach people in need but who receive none of our interventions or services.
Practitioners and researchers who are interested in diversity-related issues in general; providers and educators who are interested in providing programs to Chinese populations.
The evaluation of treatment outcomes is key to a wider adoption of behavioral treatments by key players in health and education including health insurance providers, advocacy groups, and government agencies. As part of this symposium we will present a series of pioneering studies in the area of treatment evaluation and outcome research in behavioral services for people with autism and fragile X syndrome. Study 1 from Scott Hall's group at Standford University presents a randomized controlled trial of function-driven interventions for problem behavior provided via telehealth. Study 2 from Svein Eldevik's group at Oslo Metropolitan University presents a 10-year follow up of treatment outcomes for adolescents and adults that have received early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) during childhood. Study 3 by Bill Ahearn's group at the New England Center for Children presents an evaluation of an early detection and treatment protocol. The study hopes to demonstrate that early detection followed by early treatment can result in optimal outcomes for young children with autism. Finally, Study 4 by Javier Virues-Ortega's group at The University of Auckland and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid presents the results of a case-control study aimed at identifying neural biomarkers of treatment outcomes. The study compared a range of neural pathways in two groups of children with autism who had or had not received parent-managed behavioral intervention. Together these studies feature a variety of emerging approaches to evaluate behavioral services. Dr. Brian Reichow author of several high-impact Cochrane reviews of EIBI will discuss the session.
Practitioners, researchers, advocates and policy decision-makers.
Delivering Early Interventions for Children With Fragile X Syndrome via Telehealth: Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial
Introduction:Early Interventions for children with developmental disabilities are increasingly being delivered via telehealth to reduce health access disparities. In this paper, we describe the outcomes of a study designed to evaluate behavior analytic treatments for problem behaviors exhibited by young children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common known inherited cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Methods:Participants were 61 boys with FXS, aged 3 to 10 years, who exhibited problem behavior on a daily basis. Following a functional analysis, participants were randomized to receive function-based behavioral treatment over 12 weeks (n=26) or treatment as usual (n= 25). The primary outcome measures were scores obtained on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist- Community (ABC-C) and the Treatment Acceptability Rating Form - Revised (TARF-R). Results:Children who received function-based behavioral treatment via telehealth evidenced significant decreases in problem behavior compared to those who received treatment as usual (Cohen’s d = 0.65, p<.001). Scores obtained on the TARF-R indicated that treatment acceptability remained high at 4-week follow-up. Discussion:These data provide initial evidence to support the efficacy of delivering function-based behavioral treatments via telehealth for this population. The advantages and disadvantages of using RCT designs to evaluate treatment effects will be discussed.
Treatment Gains from Early Intensive Behavioral Interventionare Maintained in Adolescents and Adulthood
This presentation reports the current outcomes of adolescents and adults with autism who received Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) in their childhood. Nineteen children (16 boys and three girls) who had received two years of EIBI starting at a mean age of 2.9 years took part in an extended follow up 12 years later. Results showed that participants had significantly increased their cognitive and adaptive standardized scores during the two years of EIBI, and that these gains were maintained 10 years after EIBI had ended. Participants also showed a significant reduction in autism symptoms between intake and follow-up. Participants had not received any additional psychiatric diagnoses and were not taking psychotropic medication at the 10-year follow up. Results indicate that treatment gains achieved in EIBI are maintained into adolescence. Treatment outcomes during adulthood are reported for eight children from Eikeseth, Smith, Jahr and Eldevik (2002, 2007) who received either three years of EIBI (n = 4) or three years of eclectic special education (n = 4). Preliminary results suggest that children who had received EIBI made larger gains and maintained their progress to a greater extent than those who received eclectic treatment. Overall, our results indicate that gains made after EIBI may persist into adolescence and adulthood.
Whereas behavior analysts take due pride in the unique characteristics that distinguish us from mainstream psychology, those characteristics also distance us from psychology, cheating us of attention, recognition, support, and employment opportunities. Is it possible to remain true to our behavioral tenets, while improving our communication and presence in the larger intellectual community? If so, how do we go about it? We are fortunate to have Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, an early pioneer of behavior modification and expert in single case (N of 1) research designs in clinical and applied settings. He has succeeded in what we aspire to do--formulating and validating empirically grounded behavioral interventions, in particular for children and teenagers. He has been embraced by psychologists in general, having served as the president of APA and winning the APA gold medal for lifetime achievement. He also has a significant public audience (e.g. https://slate.com/author/alan-kazdin; https://time.com/author/alan-kazdin/ and https://amzn.to/2NiAp4c ). In this panel he will discuss with leaders in our field his thoughts about ways in which we can advance our agenda, and regain a seat at the table of empirically-based behavioral psychology writ large.
Through a set of exemplars that sample the range of stimulus and response topographies, multiple exemplar training aims to produce the full range of performances. The principle has been widely acknowledged and used in experimental psychology, in the experimental analysis of behavior, and in behavior-analytic applications. Behavior analysts have often referred to a history of multiple exemplar training to account for different generalized performances. Examples of such generalized performances are abstraction and concept learning, responding to relations, identity matching, rule following, behavioral variability, responding to wh-questions, describing past events, learning sets, and continuous repertoires. There is convincing evidence for the usefulness of multiple exemplar training with respect to many types of performances, even performances that involve relations between objects or events. Yet, there appear to be at least two important exceptions, where direct multiple exemplar training does not work well: (1) when there are no physical dimensions at all along which generalized performances can emerge, and (2) when the relation between antecedents and an effective response is complex. General limitations of multiple exemplar training as well as an interpretation of exceptions in terms of behavior-mediated generalization are discussed. Guidelines for more effective training for generalized skills are outlined.
In their seminal article, Baer, Wolf and Risley (1968), stated that behavior analytic intervention is expected to result in strong, socially important, and generalizable behavior change which, in this case, should mean more positive adult outcomes in ASD. Unfortunately, despite a nearly three decade-long emphasis on evidence-based, behavior analytic intervention in ASD, adult outcomes remain poor “for almost any outcome you choose.” (Roux, et al, 2015, p. 8). While there may be several reasons for continued poor outcomes (including the challenge of simply defining “good outcome”), the potential of behavior analytic intervention to develop more positive adult outcomes has yet to be fully realized. Such outcomes, however, are well within the reach of our behavior analytic technology. But to do that, the contingencies governing our behavior will, most likely, need to shift. For example, we will need to shift from contingencies that reinforce the technical precision of our classroom-based interventions to contingencies the reinforce the somewhat less technical precision of community-based intervention (assuming the target has a fair degree of social validity). This tutorial will identify a number areas, both internal and external to the field, where a “contingency shift” may be necessary if the power of behavior analytic intervention to significantly improve outcomes for adults with autism is to be more fully realized.
The session will cover the long history of how the outcomes of the BTBC-3 inform intervention and instruction for young children’s language development and success in school. The issues covered are of particular relevance for children on the ASD spectrum. Recent research using the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts-3: Preschool in a behaviorally-based preschool program has identified bi-directional naming as a key factor in the progression of learning, an issue to be explored in the session. The importance of relational concepts as measured by the BTBC for learning across all areas of learning, following directions and more complex problem solving will be presented along with strategies for intervention.
Ann E. Boehm, Ph.D. is professor emerita of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she continues to teach a course on early childhood assessment. She is the author of the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts (BTBC) which was the outcome of her dissertation and was seminal in identifying basic relational concepts as an important aspect of language development and essential for success across all areas of school learning. The test, now in in its third edition, consists of a preschool level (ages 3-5) and a school age level (ages 5-7). Outcomes of the test are helpful for identifying learning objectives and monitoring progress, The BTBC-3 is one of the few instruments available at these age levels in raised form and big picture versions for the blind and visually impaired (through the American Printing House for the Blind). She is the author of numerous books and articles. Her current research interests focus on the next version of the BTBC, direction following, intervention activities, and work with students on the ASD spectrum.
Part of the mission of radical behaviorism is to increase control over behavioral variability in all domains of human activity, and perhaps especially those in which activity is seen as constrained by invariant traits. One such “invariant trait” is intelligence, a concept long understood to represent a mentalism. However, it is only recently that behavior analysts have made progress in providing a functional-analytic model of intelligence that was sufficiently progressive to produce targeted interventions that can increase intellectual skill fluency to the point where large and reliable gains are observable on standardised tests of intelligence. In this talk Dr. Bryan Roche of Maynooth University, Ireland, will outline the rationale behind one such intervention method, known as SMART training (Strengthening Mental Abilities with Relational Training), which has emerged from a Relational Frame Theory account of derived stimulus relations. The talk will also outline evidence of the positive effects on intellectual functioning of the SMART intervention, and argue that for pragmatic, ethical, and now empirical reasons, psychologists’ traditional conceptualization of intelligence needs to be revised.
This presentation will address the question of effective practices for the treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, from both an epistemological and a therapeutic perspective, and suggest the importance of a synthesis of two paradigms—behavior analysis and general systems theory—as a means of optimizing our assessment of the needs and the services provided to people with disabilities. Despite the development and the use of a wide array of behavior analytic practices that help all children with ASD to reach their full potential, a question that remains under-researched has to do with the effort expected from the child and his/her family and whether this effort can be somehow lessened without compromising the benefits. The answer to that question led to investigating the properties of another epistemological paradigm—general systems theory—its merits, its compatibility, and its complementarity to the discipline of behavior analysis. This presentation aims to demonstrate that the two paradigms are compatible and complementary and that their combination may lead to optimizing the therapeutic and pedagogical outcomes of behavior analytic practices. If we are to adapt a systemic perspective, according to which the joining of two or more systems leads to an outcome that exceeds by far the additive effects of those systems, it will be interesting to assess the potential emergent benefits of the synthesis of two compatible and complementary epistemological paradigms and how those translate into therapeutic outcomes.
Researchers and therapists in the field of autism spectrum disorder.
Angeliki Gena is Professor at the School of Philosophy, Department of Philosopsy-Pedagogy-Psychology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece (EKPA). She received her BA in Psychology and Sociology, her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and her Ph.D. from the “Learning Processes” program of the Psychology Department of the City University of New York. She conducted her Doctoral Dissertation at the Princeton Child Development Institute, in Princeton, New Jersey. She worked in various institutes in the USA and became the director of the Alpine Learning Group, a prominent center for children with autism in Alpine, New Jersey. She also taught as an adjunct professor at the City University of New York. In Greece she started her teaching career at the University of Thessaly, was elected at the University of the Aegean, and since 1998 teaches at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her research is predominantly in the area of Behavior Analysis and its applications for early intervention in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Was general secretary of the Association of Behavioral Research for 11 years, is an associate of the Institute of Behavioral Research and Therapy, and a founding member and current president of the Institute of Systemic Behavior Analysis. She has served as an elected member of the Senate of EKPA, since 2016 she is a member of the board of trustees of IKY – National Organization of Scholarships, Greece – has been appointed to national committees of the Greek Ministry of Education, and has served on the board of various non-for-profit organizations. She has received several scholarships and awards for distinguished research and clinical practices addressing children with autism and grands from the European Commission and various Greek organizations. She has published numerous books, empirical and theoretical articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as book chapters. The main focus of her research is in systemic behavior analysis and its applications for children with ASD and their families.
Training caregivers to apply evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis is an essential component of professional work and a key component of effective services. Research over the last 30 years has demonstrated the effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability of Behavioral Skills Training (BST) to teach skills, promote generalization of teaching skills and sometimes produce important changes in child behavior. As research in this area becomes more differentiated, one important aspect has been the application of BST to young children, including training family members and staff in integrated settings. This workshop will present three papers on applying BST to train parents of a child at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders via telehealth, training parents to teach joint attention skills to their children, and training special education teachers to improve the integrity of function-based interventions to increase child classroom engagement. These studies demonstrate that BST can readily be extended to working with caregivers of young children with disabilities, improve caregiver behavior and produce socially important changes in child behavior.
Masters and doctoral level practitioners; advanced graduate students; psychologists; service supervisors;
Parent and Sibling Training to Increase Joint Attention Behavior in Young Children With Developmental Disabilities
Children with developmental disabilities are at increased risk for social communication deficits, including early and pivotal social communication skills. One such skill, response to joint attention, is a behavioral cusp for later developing social communication and play. Joint attention is coordinated shared attention between two individuals and an object or event. The current study investigated the effects of a train-the-trainer approach where parents were trained to teach siblings to be proficient interventionists on the response to joint attention behavior of their siblings with developmental disabilities. Results indicate an increase in parent task fidelity following a modified behavior skills training procedure during home visits, as well as an increase in sibling task fidelity following parent training using a social narrative and prompting procedure. Target child data indicate an increase in level of response to joint attention behavior following parent training and parent training of sibling. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
The Effects of a Teacher’s Behavior Skills Training in Strategies for Students With Exceptionalities in a General Education Classroom
Special education teachers are often implementers of behavior intervention plans; however, a shortage of teachers in any field is only magnified in special education. Studies have looked at the use of behavior skills training (BST) in training teachers and caregivers in the intervention techniques prescribed for individuals and groups. This study extends research on teacher training using the BST model. This study was also designed to evaluate the relation between teacher integrity to a functional assessment-based interventions (FABI) suite of strategies and the effect on student on-task performance. The participants were a special education teacher and two elementary-aged students, each classified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The students engaged in off-task, often disruptive behavior while receiving special education services in a general education classroom. This study was conducted in three phases. Each phase consisted of BST to teach a subset of interventions. A single-subject changing criterion design was used to evaluate the effect of BST on teacher integrity and student performance. Results showed that BST improved teacher integrity through each phase and teacher integrity improved student on-task behavior. Limitations to this study will be discussed as well as directions for future research.
Evaluation of a Caregiver Training Intervention to Teach Safety Skills to Children With Autism
Alarmingly, nearly half of children with autism elope or bolt, and more than half of these children go missing for a concerning duration of time and/or enter into dangerous situations. Caregivers often do not feel prepared to address these serious concerns. This study evaluated the effectiveness of behavioural skills training (BST) for teaching caregivers how to also use BST in conjunction with a tactile prompt to teach their children with autism help-seeking behaviour. Participants included a total of six dyads, caregivers and their children with autism ages 5-10. We used a concurrent multiple baseline design across two dyads with three replications. The children’s safety responses were measured using a point system: (1) calling out for their caregiver in a louder than conversational voice, (2) locating a store employee, and (3) informing the employee that he/she was lost. Results indicate that four children met mastery criteria (a safety score of 3 across two consecutive trials), and the caregivers were able to successfully fade the tactile prompting device. Data collection with the final two dyads is currently in progress. This study contributes to the limited empirical research on caregiver training using BST to teach help-seeking behaviour to children with autism.
Humans are a eusocial species, especially sensitive to social contingencies. This sensitivity is observed at the earliest stages of development and persists throughout the lifespan, even in the presence of late-life neurodegenerative impairments. While social reinforcers are the most common reinforcers utilized in clinical applications, the behavior analytic literature is relatively sparse in its analysis of the quality of these reinforcers as they naturally occur and vary in a wide variety of interactions. This symposium will address social reinforcers from multiple vantage points: a review of the experimental analysis of social behavior, thought-provoking observations of parent-child interactions during acquisition of verbal skills, social histories as confounds within applied work in behavioral gerontology, and the challenge to measure interpersonal repertoires and the effects of social contingencies in clinical behavior analysis. The goal of the symposium is to draw attention to the ubiquitous nature of social reinforcers and social histories, identify gaps in knowledge, and discuss areas of future exploration for experimental, applied, and clinical research.
Scientist practitioners, BCBA-Ds, BCBAs, BCaBAs
In terms of an interbehavioral point of view, Ribes (1990) proposed a conceptual formulation and a methodological approach to identify consistent modes of people interaction with different situations, distinguishing individuals. He suggested that these particular and idiosyncratic modes of interaction, denominated interactive styles, could be modulated by the imposed criteria in a particular situation. But it also seems feasible that the criteria compliance could be modulated by the individuals’ interactive style. While this asseveration has proved relevance in the context of individual task performance, we propose to transpose it to the teamwork level. Nowadays, most of the tasks demanded in educational, academic, and occupational contexts involve teamwork. However, teams do not always perform successfully even when members have the proper disciplinary knowledge and the required skills to achieve the assigned goal. In collaboration with Muñoz, Mejía, Peña & Torres, we conformed an interdisciplinary group interested in the identification of the factors that participate in the establishment of effective teams for software development. The result has been a model in which, besides the disciplinary knowledge and individual skills to achieve products of high quality, it is necessary to take into account the way in which each individual faces situations and how these interactive styles complement with the others. Additionally, we have considered that this model could be applied in other areas.
Students and people interested in building effective teams in applied contexts.
One might say that the treatment that launched applied behavior analysis began with a commitment to help little Dicky, a 3 ½ year old boy with autism (Wolf, Risley & Mees, 1964). The treatment was an amazing story of a successful marriage of science and clinical wisdom. Now, over 50 years later, it is evident that applied behavior analysis has both expanded and shrunk. Expansion is seen in the 2018 Annual Report of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board: 35,286 professionals certified to practice behavior analysis and 51,507 technicians registered to assist them. Most of the recipients of these practices are children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities. Among the costs of taking behavior analysis to scale has been the shrinking of what it means to be an applied behavior analyst. Both science and clinical wisdom seem to have moved to the margins and other considerations have taken center stage. We will examine some of the changes that appear to have occurred, including ossification of protocols, training and supervision in decontextualized environments, and a focus on structural rather than functional approaches to treatment. We will also examine what appears to be a misunderstanding or misapplication of what constitutes evidence-based practice. Finally, we will consider contingencies at work in the current culture that may account for many of these changes; and we will offer some observations on how the field might recapture what has been lost as it continues moving forward.
Dogs are described as “man’s best friend” and dog ownership is at an all-time high. Nevertheless, the nature of the human-dog bond has only recently been explored and much work in this field focuses on the structure of the relationship. While this might describe what the relationship looks like, it does not address what maintains the relationship nor does it identify the variables we can manipulate to produce, maintain, or enhance that relationship. Taking a behavior analytic approach, our research has sought to identify the functions maintaining human-dog interactions from the dog’s perspective. This talk will highlight our work investigating dogs’ preference for different human interactions, what stimuli typically function as reinforcers for dog behavior, and how we can use those to address behavioral issues, such as separation-related problem behavior in owned dogs and kennel reactivity in shelter dogs. Audience members will learn about the current state of knowledge of dog social behavior, how behavioral science can help enhance the human-dog relationship by taking the dogs’ perspective through preference and reinforcer efficacy tests, and how that knowledge can be applied to solve common behavioral issues in companion and shelter dogs.
Board certified behavior analysts, applied animal behaviorists, graduate students, dog owners and enthusiasts.
Dr. Feuerbacher is an Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Behavior and Welfare at Virginia Tech and director of the Applied Animal Behavior & Welfare Lab in the Department of Animal & Poultry Science. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Florida in the UF Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab and her Masters in Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas in the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, she was an Assistant Professor at Carroll College in Helena, MT, where she led the canine program in which students trained foster dogs during the academic year. She has worked as a shelter behavior consultant, offered group dog training classes and private behavior consultations, and is co-founder of the Shelter Dog Institute. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Her research at Virginia Tech focuses on understanding dog behavior and learning from a behavior analytic perspective, using applied behavior analysis to solve behavioral issues, and identifying interventions that improve shelter dog welfare. She has earned several awards for her behavior analytic research and her dedication to the theoretical foundations of behavior analysis. She is passionate about humane, effective animal training, and working with owners, trainers, and shelter staff to improve our interactions with animals through behavior analysis.
Children can communicate through gestures (like pick-me-up or pointing) even before they begin to speak. Some gestures likely develop through social learning (like waving hello). Researchers have argued that other early gestures, like the pick-me-up gesture, cannot be learned through social learning (since adults do not gesture to be picked up). They have therefore proposed that these gestures are learned through ontogenetic ritualization, a kind of learning that critically involves role and dyad specificity. Ontogenetic ritualization is thought to differ from operant conditioning. In this presentation, on the basis of videotaped interactions between parents and children between six and twelve months of age, I argue that these early communicative gestures are likely learned through operant conditioning. I also discuss the possible developmental origins of pointing, ranging from operant conditioning to species-typical behavior. It is important to entertain the possibility that simple and well-established learning mechanisms account for children’s early gestures.
Anyone interested in the early communication of typically developing infants and toddlers as well as practitioners interested in designing interventions with clinical communication-disordered populations.
Delivering effective ABA services requires caregivers to deliver interventions with sufficient integrity to result in socially meaningful changes in client behavior. Yet, many services often struggle to maintain the integrity of applied behavior analytic interventions in applied settings. Thus, practitioners must have behavioral technologies available to them to assess, and increase treatment integrity and evaluate interventions to do so. This symposium presents three papers addressing this important issue. These papers include a systematic review of training natural change agents implementing functional analytic procedures, a telehealth intervention error analysis and identify to remedy the implementation errors and an intervention study to improve treatment integrity during functional communication training
Advanced graduate students, Masters and Doctoral practitioners, research students, instructors and professors teaching ABA classes, and psychologists including school psychologists.
Siegfried “Ziggy” Engelmann (1931-2019) dedicated his life to developing and refining Direct Instruction (DI), a powerful teaching system that combines logical selection and sequencing of examples and high rates of responding by students. Countless children and adults owe their literacy to teachers who skillfully presented DI programs developed by Engelmann and colleagues. This symposium will review Engelmann’s achievements as a pioneering scientist, examine the DI research base, show how DI's theory of instruction is harmonious with behavior analysis, and discuss factors that impede the widespread implementation of DI in schools.
Science in the Service of Humanity: The Astonishing Contributions of Siegfried Engelmann
A pioneering scientist and educator for more than 50 years, Siegfried ‘Zig’ Engelmann was among the first to apply the scientific method to the design and delivery of instruction. He stood alone for his ability to create programs that accelerate learning in even the hardest to teach children and that most teachers can learn to use. He wrote more than 100 curricula, covering the major subjects from preschool to high school. As a professor of education at University of Oregon and founder of the National Institute for Direct Instruction, he attracted students from around the world. No one did more to help the underdog. Millions of poor children learned when taught by teachers trained in his methods, often when nothing else worked. He never gave up on a child or blamed children for the failings of adults. He lived by his motto: If the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught. More scientific evidence validates DI’s effectiveness than any other mode of teaching. I will present an overview of Zig’s life and achievements.
Shepard Barbash has been a writer for forty years. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, City Journal, Education Next and other publications. He is former bureau chief of the Houston Chronicle in Mexico City and is the author of five books, including Clear Teaching, published in 2012 by the Education Consumers Foundation. He and his wife, photographer Vicki Ragan, have published an alphabet book of limericks and three illustrated books (including one for children) on the folk-art wood carvers of Oaxaca, Mexico. He has advised the Georgia Governor’s Office and the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) on curricular issues and has organized teacher training programs and written grants for APS. He has also worked for E.D. Hirsch at the Core Knowledge Foundation. He is a graduate of Harvard University.
Factors in Education and ABA That Work Against Adoption and Maintenance of Direct Instruction
A great deal of evidence demonstrates that Direct Instruction can be extremely effective for efficiently building academic repertoires in a wide variety of learners including those with disabilities. However, Direct Instruction is not widely implemented in schools or ABA service settings. This presentation explores the interaction of features of Direct Instruction and the resources and contingencies in potential implementation settings that account for the under-utilization of this powerful technology that addresses a high-priority need. First, Direct Instruction must be well-implemented to have the powerful effects it is capable of producing. Second, implementing Direct Instruction well requires a good deal of expertise, on-going support, and ongoing effort by educators. Third, few schools or ABA service providers understand how and why Direct Instruction is powerful; therefore, they often undermine its effectiveness when making modifications, fail to generalize its powerful features, and select less effective programs for reasons that are irrelevant to student achievement. Fourth, many educators find some features of Direct Instruction aversive because of verbal relations surrounding those features, in spite of the fact that Direct Instruction could help them achieve highly-valued outcomes.
What’s the Evidence for Direct Instruction?
More than fifty years and 300 studies document DI’s effectiveness. A recent meta-analysis found that the average effect size for DI was over .50, substantially larger than the level typically found in studies of other programs. Estimated effects were similar across time, methodologies, student characteristics, settings, outcome variables, and comparison programs. However, they were larger when students were exposed for longer periods of time and with greater fidelity, surpassing the effect associated with the average achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Future research might most effectively focus on ways to improve implementation fidelity and understand resistance to the programs.
Jean Stockard has Bachelor of Arts degrees in mathematics and sociology, a Masters of Arts in Sociology, and a Ph.D. in Sociology. She taught at the University of Oregon from 1974 to 2011 and currently holds the rank of Professor Emerita. She has published eight books and over seven dozen articles in a wide variety of areas, including sociology of gender, urban sociology, sociology of education, sociology of health and demography. She has taught a variety of courses related to these areas as well as numerous classes on methodology and quantitative analysis. Professor Stockard was President of the Pacific Sociological Association in 2008, the regional association serving the western United States, Canada, and Mexico; served as co-editor of Sociological Perspectives, a general sociological journal; and was employed for nine years as Director of Research and Evaluation at the National Institute for Direct Instruction, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping schools in disadvantaged areas better serve their students.
Faultless Communication: The Heart and Soul of DI
Engelmann and colleagues realized that a scientific analysis of learning needed to control for one of two variables: either the learner or the instruction. As no two learners are alike, they focused on controlling instruction—in the form of logical, “faultless communication.” For most novice learners, normal instruction is riddled with confusion and ambiguity. To reduce misinterpretation and maximize learning, DI's instructional components (such as content analysis, explicit teaching, judicious example selection, and structured sequencing) are designed communicate one logical interpretation. The effects on the learner's performance are then observed, and the communication redesigned until faultless. DI's “Theory of Instruction” is harmonious with behavior analysis and beneficial to anyone interested in the heart and soul of good instruction.
or the 2019-2020 academic year, nine San Antonio area school districts were funded by the Texas Education Agency to provide early intensive verbal behavior intervention for students with autism. At the start of the year students were assessed using the Verbal Behavior Stimulus Control Ratio Equation (VB-SCoRE) to determine the extent to which mands, echoics, tacts, and sequelics exerted disproportionate levels of control over their verbal behavior. The results of the VB-SCoRE were then used to develop individualized verbal behavior intervention plans for each student. Teachers and paraprofessionals were trained to implement referent-based verbal behavior instruction to transfer control across these four primary verbal operants. In addition to providing direct classroom-based services for students with autism, the project included parent trainings conducted by district behavior analysts. At the end of the year, students were re-assessed with the VB-SCoRE to analyze verbal behavior gains. This symposium presents data from the project, highlighting results from participating districts along with a description of how the project was contextualized to fit the diverse student populations they serve.
The rapidly growing field of ABA offers a wide range of occupational opportunities for behavior analysts. One potential opportunity is operating a business that provides ABA services. In this panel discussion, three successful business owners who provide behavioral services will share their experiences and advice for starting and running a business that delivers ABA-based services. The three panelists are Dr. Mary Sawyer, Co-owner and Director of Fit Learning Atlanta and Founding Director of TEAM Coaching, LLC; Dr. Megan Miller, Co-Founder of Navigation Behavioral Consulting, former CEO of PEAK ABA Solutions, and Founder of the Do Better Professional Development Movement; and Dr. David Bicard, CEO of Great Leaps Learning Center. The three panelists will be address topics such as starting and maintaining a business, training and coaching staff, overcoming obstacles, and dealing with potential ethical issues. This is a 50 minutes Q&A panel discussion, in which you'll have the opportunity to ask any questions about the three different types of business in our ABA world.
The target audience will be behavior analysts, undergraduates, and parents who want to know more about how to start and operating business that provides ABA services.
The advancement of technology has inevitably shaped social interactions for a large majority of adolescents in urbanized cities. This digital age is a time of positive growth, but also a time of considerable challenge. Bullying has extended its reach from the physical to the cyberspace. Most of what we now know about traditional bullying and cyberbullying comes from research conducted in Western societies. There have been a number of studies from Asian Pacific Rim societies, though it is acknowledged that there is a comparative lack of studies from South-East Asian countries. This talk will review key issues in this field such as the similarities, differences, and relationship between cyberbullying and traditional bullying, measurement issues in cyberbullying research as it relates to prevalence rates, and crucial cross-cultural considerations. This talk will also examine the risk and protective factors, and outcomes including mental health outcomes of traditional/cyberbullying victims and perpetrators. Finally, this talk will also include a review of prevention and intervention strategies targeting multiple levels and contexts/systems (individual, relationships such as parent-adolescent, teacher-student, peer-peer, school, community) which will be needed to more effectively address traditional and cyberbullying in an integrated manner.
Behavioral economics is the intersection of operant psychology and micro-economic principles. The subfield of behavioral economics began as a novel means of interpreting drug administration studies in behavioral pharmacology and the experimental analysis of behavior. Over time, the translational utility of behavioral economics—especially in the domains of delay discounting and operant demand—has become apparent in nearly all facets of behavior analysis (e.g., OBM, treatment of severe problem behavior, substance use, education). Decades of research on the topics of discounting and demand have thereby led to the development of efficient yet psychometrically sound measures that permit generality to nearly any setting or research question. Recent critiques of behavioral economics, however, suggest it is antithetical to the dimensions of behavior analysis due to the use of self-report and quantitative analyses. This panel discussion will feature three of the most impactful luminaries in behavioral economics; collectively, the group will discuss the behavior analytic origins of behavioral economics, contemporary applications in behavior analysis, and suggestions for future research and development.
Any behavior analyst.
Amy Odum is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Her research interests are in basic behavioral phenomena, such as response persistence, sensitivity to delayed outcomes, conditional discriminations, and environmental influences on drug effects. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Vermont’s Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory after earning her Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology, specializing in Behavior Analysis, from West Virginia University. She received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida. Dr. Odum served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. She has been President of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and President of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) of the American Psychological Association. She is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
The difference between curricula and pedagogy is highlighted best when we consider what we teach versus how we teach it. There exists an interaction between development and instruction such that instruction can only be effective if the educator considers the learner’s level of verbal development. The ways in which we teach must cater to the current verbal developmental cusps found within the learner’s repertoire. While the progression of instructional objectives targeted within a curriculum will change as the learner acquires the necessary prerequisite skills to move forward, attention should be placed on modifying the ways in which we teach those subsequent objectives. Research in the field of verbal behavior development has proven time and time again that the acquisition of skills can be accelerated if the method of teaching is consistent with the capabilities that the learner exhibits, i.e. the presence of verbal developmental cusps within their repertoire.
Educators, Practitioners, and Researchers
Kieva is both a certified special education teacher and a doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst. She specializes in teacher training as well as in supervision of evidence-based service delivery to students with and without disabilities. Her interests include effective delivery of instruction, analyzing rates of learning in young children, inclusion/integration, kindergarten readiness, verbal behavior development, and the CABAS® model. Her research focuses on how teaching procedures can be effectively modified to accelerate student learning. Kieva received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and a Behavioural Science Technician post-graduate certificate from George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario. She then worked at both Surrey Place Centre in Toronto and at the CHEO Autism Program in Ottawa before making the big move to New York City. There, she earned her M.A. in Teaching as Applied Behavior Analysis and her Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis at Columbia University. She has taught at both Columbia University and Arizona State University as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. Additionally, Kieva helped to pioneer the Scottsdale Children’s Institute, an integrated kindergarten readiness program in Arizona where she then served as the Clinical Director for two years before moving back to Canada to begin her career as a full-time Professor at St. Lawrence College.
The digital health industry, estimated to be worth $206 billion by 2020, has produced countless mobile apps, wearable devices, and other technologies to help users develop healthy lifestyles to manage and prevent physical and mental illness. An open question is whether behavioral science is being applied to these innovations which reach millions of users each day. In this talk, Dr. Pagoto will first discuss her work examining the degree to which the work of behavioral scientists is represented in popular commercial health technologies, and then she will present her research applying behavioral principles via mobile technology and social media. Finally, she will discuss ways that technology can provide novel sources of data to enhance our understanding of behavior as well as the efficacy and reach of behavioral interventions.
Research findings from our CABAS® and Accelerated Independent Learner (AIL) schools and laboratories have demonstrated that instruction for all learners is best arranged with a focus on verbal development. The Early Learner Curriculum and Achievement Record (ELCAR, previously known as the C-PIRK) provides an inventory of repertoires and verbal developmental cusps that are the foundation for children to excel in Kindergarten. Our AIL objectives and new STEM curricula serve more advanced learners. However, knowing what to teach is only half the battle. Instruction must take place within the context of the learner’s verbal development. Once students have the necessary foundational repertoires and verbal behavior developmental cusps that will allow learning to occur, it is crucial to identify the proper instructional objectives. In this talk, I will provide academic teaching sequences aligned to both State and Common Core standards to instruct all students. I will also provide an overview of how to arrange instruction for all learners, from students at the pre-foundational level to those who are independent readers and writers.
Individuals interested in verbal behavior, or verbal behavior developmental theory in relation to instructional design.
Although the behavior of humans and other animals can show exquisite sensitivity to consequences, under some circumstances, we act as if important variables are irrelevant. Why is that? How can we learn to act now, to avoid regret later? I will discuss common end-of-life regrets and work backwards to the present, reverse engineering the path we will wish we had taken. Delay discounting, the decline in the present value of temporally remote rewards, can contribute to the understanding and thus prevention of regret. I will discuss the factors that give rise to our disregard of our future preferences. These include the shape of discounting curves, aspects of the rewards in consideration, and organismic influences. I will discuss research from the basic laboratory to the clinic, and apply it to individual, societal, and global decision-making levels. Within these factors are the keys to changing our own decision making now to prevent regret later.
Practitioners, basic, applied, and clinical behavior analysts.
Objectivity, accountability, replicability, verifiability: these are a sample of the cornerstones of the science of behaviour analysis. As a field, we emphasize developing direct measurement systems to promote accountability. These systems may add value across client services and service delivery models that may not always incorporate direct measurement protocols. For example, my co-investigator and I developed a program evaluation tool, guided by behavior analytic measurement practices, to examine how well services align with respective best-practice recommendations in a government-funded service supporting adults with acquired brain injury. Direct measurement systems may also add substantial value to psychopharmacology in treating challenging behavior in individuals with disabilities (e.g., intellectual and developmental disabilities; acquired brain injury). In fact, recent literature has concluded medication monitoring processes in this context are poor or non-existent. Clients often receive concurrent, but separate, psychopharmacological and behavioural interventions. In some cases, psychiatry and behaviour analysts working together. These relatively rare arrangements present behavior analysts with an opportunity to promote systematic data collection to efficiently identify medication impact on behavior (e.g., adaptive, maladaptive), including side effects. Unfortunately, behavior analysts do not often receive formal training relevant to psychotropic medications. Promoting behavior analysis as a valuable component in the context of psychopharmacological intervention means having behavior analysts well-trained in this area. One step towards this goal may be to establish an evidence-based training protocol enabling behavior analysts to perform effectively when collaboration opportunities arises. I will describe a research project exploring the clinical utility and feasibility of a Medications Guidelines Tool and training for behavior analysts.
Behavioral practitioners; applied researchers
Dr. Alison Cox received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Manitoba. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral. Throughout her Ph.D., Dr. Cox was involved in a variety of research initiatives ranging from developing measures to reliably identify preference in individuals with profound multiple disabilities to teaching children and adolescents with autism to successfully undergo MRI procedures. As an Assistant Professor in the Applied Disability Studies program at Brock University her research interests continue to be diverse. However, her primary interests lay in behavioral medicine, including examining the effects of psychotropic medication on behaviour. Through her current and past research and clinical experiences Dr. Cox has developed specific expertise in assessing and treating severe challenging behaviour in individuals with dual diagnosis and acquired brain injury, supporting skill acquisition in individuals with dual diagnosis and autism, and supervising early intensive behavioural intervention programs. Dr. Cox has presented her work at international and national conferences, is published in several prominent behaviour analytic journals, and serves as a peer-reviewer across a range of journals in the disabilities field. Finally, Dr. Cox currently serves on the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA) Adult Task Force and recently co-authored a best-practice guidelines document entitled Evidence-based Practices for Individuals with Challenging Behaviour: Recommendations for Caregiver, Practitioners, and Policy Makers.
Research has shown that parents of children with ASD are among the most stressed as compared to all other parents, including those who have children with other psychiatric conditions and developmental disabilities (Hayes & Watson, 2013). Parents of children with ASD are chronically stressed because the demands of the family environment often exceed the parent’s ability to cope. There are few evidence-based interventions available for professionals to use with parents of a child with ASD: some use cognitive therapies, such as meditation, some use social support to reduce stress and mental health problems, and others use implement parent training to improve child behavior. Few if any combine both mental health and behavioral approaches, and none of these are designed for implementation by school personnel. This presentation describes findings from a multi-year transdisciplinary investigation into the most common stressors for parents of preschool children with ASD attending a CABAS® model school. Specifically, in two studies we surveyed parents to determine their reported levels of stress and common stressors, as well as parents’ mental and physical wellbeing, self-care, and self-efficacy skills. In the first study we also examined mother-child interactions during free-play and demand situations in order to determine possible target behaviors for intervention. Implications of the findings and suggestions for interventions will be discussed.
Those interested in parent education and interventions to help parents cope with the stresses of parenting a child with ASD. These may include practitioners, educators, researchers, or parents themselves.
In 1950, Skinner published an article titled “Are Theories of Learning Necessary?” which was widely misunderstood and misrepresented as arguing that theories in science were not necessary. In fact, he was arguing that explanations of behavior consisting of explanatory fictions were not only not necessary, but faulty. Skinner’s choice of the term “theory” in that context was unfortunate. Elsewhere (e.g., Skinner, 1957), Skinner has used the term “interpretation” to refer to his extrapolation of the basic principles of operant behavior from the experimental laboratory to the understanding of complex behavior, including behavior he called verbal. This was also an unfortunate choice because what he called interpretation was nothing less than a theoretical analysis. In this instance, the standard term “theory” would have been more appropriate. In the present talk, I offer one view of what theories in science are and how they originate, and then I discuss what a behavior-analytic theory is and how it has been, and continues to be, applied to understanding complex human behavior. As with theories in the natural sciences, behavior-analytic theory does not posit circular explanations, does not commit the nominal fallacy or the reification fallacy, and is parsimonious. In other words, the statements comprising the theory point to observable or potentially observable and testable events.
Henry D. (Hank) Schlinger Jr. received his Ph.D. in psychology (applied behavior analysis) from Western Michigan University (WMU) under the supervision of Jack Michael. He then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology also at WMU with Alan Poling. Dr. Schlinger was a full tenured professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. He is now professor of psychology and former director of the M. S. Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Schlinger has published 80 scholarly articles, chapters, and commentaries in more than 30 different journals. He also has authored or co-authored three books, Psychology: A Behavioral Overview (1990), A Behavior-Analytic View of Child Development (1995) (which was translated into Japanese), and Introduction to Scientific Psychology (1998). He is past editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and The Behavior Analyst and sits on the editorial boards of several other journals. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies and on the Advisory Board of The Venus Project (https://www.resourcebasedeconomy.org/advisory-board/). He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University in 2012, and the Jack Michael Award for Outstanding Contributions in Verbal Behavior from the Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis International in 2015.
Advances in genetics, molecular biology, and cognitive neuroscience offer hope for personalized treatment and improved outcomes in those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the promise of precision medicine is limited by a lack of mechanistic models that explain phenotypic and etiological heterogeneity; instead of using such models to identify subgroups likely to respond to specific treatments, the field relies on service availability, trial-and-error, and clinical judgment to make treatment decisions. In line with the computational psychiatry objective, my research integrates mathematical models of behavior and brain activity to establish neurocognitive models that can successfully predict individual social and nonsocial learning profiles. Specifically, I am formally comparing the suitability of various computational models to capture selective deficits in social learning of individuals with ASD, as well as variability in both social and nonsocial learning across typically developing youth and those with ASD. Identifying how these model-based predictions are implemented in the brain will allow us to identify neural architecture underlying learning in therapeutically relevant contexts. The long-term goal of this research line is to apply these computational models to inform, refine, and individualize diagnosis, education, and treatment of youth with ASD.
I am an Assistant Professor of cognitive neuroscience in the Psychology department at George Washington University (GWU). I am also affiliated with the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute at GWU. My research combines computational and neuroscientific methods to understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying learning in neurotypical and clinical populations, especially autism spectrum disorder. I have expertise in designing naturalistic tasks to assess social decision making in behavior and brain function, conducting longitudinal clinical studies, computational modeling and developmental cognitive neuroscience. I have recently been awarded the Bridge to Independence Award by the Simons Foundation for Autism Research to study learning in autism with a computational neuroscientific approach and its implications for treatment.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is marked by social communication and interaction impairments and restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs), yet little is understood about the etiology of these impairments and there are few successful treatment interventions. The expression and severity of social impairments can vary widely across individuals, so more objective bio-behavioral markers that measure the process of how interactions unfold over time will greatly enhance our understanding and could lead to targeting of interventions to particular subgroups of patients. Engagement in restrictive and repetitive behaviors can compound the social communication and interaction difficulties, so a fuller understanding of the contextual factors that influence the expression of RRBs is also need. In this talk, I argue that social synchrony may be a useful dynamic bio-marker of social ability in children and adolescents with ASD. The relevance of social synchrony and coupled oscillator-based modeling of synchronization for understanding social impairment in ASD will be discussed and synchronization ability for spontaneous and intentional interpersonal coordination in children and adolescents with and without ASD will be compared. In addition, I will present data that evaluates the relationship between synchronization ability and more traditional clinical and social cognitive measures of social ability and evaluate the influence of social and motor context on the presentation of RRBs and language production during conversation. Finally, the promise of social synchronization ability for providing a measure with heightened resolution to identify the essential qualities of social performance in naturalistic situations and isolate underlying neural mechanisms that may be disrupted in ASD will be discussed and directions for future research and potential interventions outlined.
In 1892, William James brought Hugo Münsterberg from Freiburg to direct the new, Harvard Psychological Laboratory that James had created in the Philosophy Department. Münsterberg had trained under William Wundt in Leipzig, who had pioneered an experimental method to explore the relationship between mental events and physical experience. The New Psychology banished the old method of introspection. Instead, it relied on highly controlled experiments with equipment borrowed from the domains of physics and physiology. Researchers studied the psychology of the senses, the timing of mental acts, judgement, memory, and attention. Starting with these “prism, pendulum, and chronograph philosophers,” as James called them, this talk will conclude with B. F. Skinner and his experiments on operant conditioning, reinforcement, and learning. Special attention will be paid to early apparatus such as reaction keys, prototype operant chambers, cumulative recorders, and teaching machines. The apparatus, laboratory records, memoranda, and correspondence of James, Munsterberg, and Skinner survive at Harvard University and can be accessed by scholars interested in the development of their thought.
Sara Schechner, Ph.D. is the David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at Harvard University, where she is also on the faculty of the History of Science Department. She has served as Secretary of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. She has published widely on the history of astronomy, scientific instruments, and material culture and has curated numerous exhibitions, including several on the history of psychology.
Schechner earned degrees in physics and the history and philosophy of science from Harvard and Cambridge. Before returning to Harvard, she was chief curator at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and curated exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Physical Society. Schechner’s research, teaching, and exhibition work has earned her many awards. She is the 2019 recipient of the Paul Bunge Prize from the German Chemical Society and the German Bunsen Society for Physical Chemistry, which is regarded worldwide as the most important honor in the history of scientific instruments. She has also received the prestigious LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy from the American Astronomical Society, the Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize of the History of Science Society, and the Great Exhibitions Award of the British Society for the History of Science.
Despite the rise of nicotine vaping and its recent public scares, cigarette smoking remains the single most preventable cause of premature death in the USA and for many other parts of the world. Smoking kills over 7 million people a year. Smoking fits well with the principles of applied behavior analysis because it is a highly repetitious behavior maintained by its consequences. Early applications of functional analysis and conditioning led to promising treatments for helping people stop smoking but as group and individual face-to-face therapies they were hampered high intensity, cost, and low scalability. Fortunately, the rise of digital technologies and telehealth has a recreated the ability for provide behavioral therapies for smoking cessation on a broad scale at lower cost. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a contemporary form of clinical behavior analysis based on Skinner’s philosophy of Radical Behaviorism, is becoming a prominent therapeutic approach to digital and telehealth delivered smoking cessation. ACT teaches functional analysis, present moment awareness, and values-based living to help people cope with urges and stay committed to living smoke free. I will show how my research team translates ACT principles into concrete and highly accessible treatment programs on platforms including telephone-delivered behaviorial coaching, websites, smartphone apps, and chatbots for smoking cessation. This translational research is an iterative process of expert clinician input, user testing, and rapid prototyping. Once developed, we test each of these delivery platforms in both small and large-scale randomized controlled trials comparing the ACT program with standard cognitive behavioral programs. I will share the latest results of these trials and how our interventions have already reached over 50,000 people. I will close with highlighting the future directions of our research, including applications to treatment of obesity.
Dr. Jonathan Bricker’s passion is to scale up behavioral therapies into high reach public health intervention programs. He is an internationally recognized scientific leader in the behavioral therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). He focuses ACT on skills for self-control, particularly for quitting smoking and other addictions. His programs have been developed and tested on many platforms, including apps, chatbots, websites, and telephone coaching that reach thousands of people daily. Rather than encouraging people to ignore cravings, his approach to ACT is to focus on becoming aware of triggers for cravings and choosing not to act on them. His smoking cessation programs have achieved success rates that are double that of other programs—cutting cigarette use by 75 percent. Dr. Bricker has over 85 scientific publication and has received $14 million in US Government NIH grants, predominantly for WebQuit, iCanQuit and the TALK study of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for smoking cessation. His research and expert testimony was instrumental in Washington State passing a law to increase the minimum age of tobacco sales to 21.
He founded and leads the Health And Behavioral Innovations in Technology lab (which goes by the apt acronym: HABIT), which is part of the Public Health Sciences Division, at the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Bricker’s expertise in his field has led him to his current role of senior editor of the journal, Addiction. His TEDx talk, “The Secret to Self-Control” has been viewed nearly 5 million times, and has been translated into ten languages.
In 2005 Ioannidis proclaimed “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” RetractionWatch has cataloged over 20,000 scientific papers that have been withdrawn since 2010. The “replication crisis” is not the result of a few bad actors but rather is a systems problem. This presentation reviews “replication crisis” from a behavioral systems analysis perspective, identifies the metatcontogencies of the “countability culture” in academia and research that maintain the problem, and proposes solutions based on open science practices, ethical standards and methodological pluralism, noting that OBM research has been a leader in this regard.
Researchers, scholars, scientists, and graduate students.
Donald Hantula earned undergraduate degrees from Emory University and graduate degrees from University of Notre Dame and is currently with the Department of Psychology, Decision making Laboratory, and Interdisciplinary Program in Applied Behavior Analysis at Temple University. He has previously held academic positions in Occupational Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Human Resource Management at King’s College and Management Information Systems at St. Joseph’s University, and also as Director of Decision, Risk and Management Sciences at the National Science Foundation. He is the immediate past editor of Perspectives on Behavior Science and presently serves as Coordinator of the ABAI Publications Board and on the ABAI VCS board. He has published over 100 articles and chapters and his research interests include finding rational explanations for seemingly irrational decisions, quantitative analysis of behavior, consumer choices for sustainable products and practices, integrating behavioral and digital technology and ethical implications of OBM.
This presentation will argue that what might be called “The Nurture Consilience” provides a framework for guiding the further evolution of our societies. E. O. Wilson describes consilience as “the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation.” I will prevent evidence from evolutionary biology, behavior analysis, development, clinical, and social psychology, and medicine about the nurturing conditions that humans need to thrive and the toxic conditions that undermine wellbeing and promote the development of a constellation of psychological, behavioral, and health problems. Research has identified programs, policies, and practices that replace toxic conditions with environments that limit opportunities and influences for problem behavior, richly reinforce diverse forms of prosocial behavior, and cultivate psychological flexibility. However, advocacy for free market economics has corrupted virtually every sector of society; practices in business, health care, education, criminal justice, media, and government have been selected by their contribution to the wealth of a small segment of the population; the majority of people have been harmed. I will describe how we can evolve societies that foster general wellbeing, by creating contingencies that select practices that minimize harm and contribute to the general wellbeing.
The voice and inclusion of people of diverse cultural identities is expanding within the world and within our discipline. This expansion presents both tensions and possibilities. Ideally, applied behavior analysts should be developing increasingly more cultural responsiveness in all aspects of research and practice. That is not the case. Cultural responsiveness is closely yoked with lived experience, social justice, and the kyriarchy. The purpose of this presentation is to explore worldviews in the context of coloniality and to then relate this to our disciplinary and personal responses to power and efforts to contribute to a more socially just world. This includes consideration of global trends, the aims and history of our discipline, womanist and determinist worldviews, and ethics. The presentation will close with a discussion of pathways to cultural responsiveness and social justice.
Behavior analysts interested in culture, social justice, applied research, practice
Behavior analysts frequently say "the rat is always right" or "the learner is always right" but do not always focus their attention on the behavior and responding of the student in the moment to determine how to apply the science of behavior analysis. Members of this panel will discuss how behavior analysts can encourage more responsive teaching with their learners by developing more flexible protocols, attending to learner behavior, developing creative protocols for teaching receptive language skills, and how to respond to data using the Standard Celeration Chart to adjust teaching procedures. The panel will concluded by providing ttendees with the opportunity to ask the panel questions relating to attending to learner responding.
This panel is intended for individuals with at least 2 years of certification experience who are responsible for making decisions about their clients in the moment and training others to do the same.
In recent years technological progress has made it possible to design more and more modern vehicles that satisfy new safety standards required by society and law. Despite this and the many awareness-raising campaigns aimed at promoting safer driving in line with contemporary society values, the number of driving accidents has been far from zero. One reason is surely because very few have so far considered the matter from a behavioral point of view. The development of an app to deliver consequences to drivers is an essential but small part of a wide-ranging project that must necessarily involve all the relevant stakeholders, if we really want to impact our driving habits.
OBMers, entrepreneurs with truck-fleets, HSE and logistics managers
This talk will discuss learning arrangements – or the combination of instructional components that affect skill acquisition. Often, skill acquisition programming is developed and evaluated by comparing some instructional package to no instructional package (baseline responding). This is useful toward developing technologies that are likely to produce the intended outcomes. Many years of such research has produced a large “toolbox” of applied behavior analysis intervention approaches. But, for an instructor working with a specific learner, what combination of instructional components should the instructor choose? This talk will discuss the comparative effectiveness of different learning arrangements and instructional components that promote both effective and efficient learning. Research that will be discussed includes components such as trial arrangements and mastery criterioa and how these components differentially affect skill acquisition.
Daniel M. Fienup is an Associate Professor of Applied Behavior Analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University. He received his Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Southern Illinois University and his Ph.D. in School Psychology from Illinois State University. Dr. Fienup and his students conduct research on instructional design and educational performance. Dr. Fienup is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Behavioral Education and The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. He also serves on the editorial board for Behavior Analysis in Practice, the Psychological Record, Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, and Behavior Development. He serves on the Licensed Behavior Analyst New York state board and is a past board member of the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis.
Many students with autism and other developmental disabilities have difficulty sequencing their own behavior during free-choice situations. Rather, they rely on adults to prompt them to engage in particular activities. Many do not interact appropriately with play materials or may select one activity and engage in it for an extended period of time. Photographic activity schedules have been shown to be an effective tool to teach children to sequence their own behavior and transition smoothly between multiple activities. Children learn to follow the visual cues in the activity schedule to make transitions instead of relying on adult-provided prompts. Activity schedules also provide a context for teaching basic and complex choice-making behavior. As children develop verbal behavior, social scripts can also be added and then later faded to promote social interaction. Activity schedules have been used successfully in a variety of settings with both children and adults with various disabilities. They are easy to use and can be adapted to most environments. In the present tutorial, participants will learn how to use activity schedules with clients/students as well as learn about recent research on using these techniques to promote complex social play.
Practitioners and applied researchers.
Dr. Thomas S. Higbee is a Professor and Interim Department Head in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation at Utah State University and Executive Director of the Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training (ASSERT) program, an early intensive behavioral intervention program for children with autism that he founded in 2003. He is a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Utah. He is also chair of the Disability Disciplines doctoral program at Utah State University. His research focuses on the development of effective educational and behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities as well as the development of effective training strategies for teaching parents and professionals to implement effective interventions. He is a former associate editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) and the European Journal of Behavior Analysis. Dr. Higbee is committed to the dissemination of effective behavioral interventions and has helped to create intensive behavior analytic preschool and school programs for children with autism and related disorders in Brazil, Russia, Portugal, and throughout his home state of Utah. He is the past president of the Utah Association for Behavior Analysis (UtABA) and has served as a member of the Practice Board of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the Psychologist Licensing Board of the state of Utah.
Leaders, managers, organizational members, and consumers in human service industry.
Behavior can be defined as anything a person does. Understanding everyday processes and why we do things the way we do is often not analyzed but is taken for granted as this is just how we do it. Lean Six Sigma can be intimidating to those who are just learning about the concept due to the overwhelming amount of information on this topic. But it doesn’t have to be! Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology designed to eliminate problems, remove waste and inefficiency, and improve working conditions to provide a better response to customers' needs. Currently healthcare, finance, manufacturing, IT and other field are using Lean Six Sigma. Even complete strangers to Lean Six Sigma can gain a working knowledge of how the methodology works. They need only develop a basic Lean Six Sigma literacy by becoming acquainted with the fundamentals. This session will help start your journey towards becoming successful using Lean Six Sigma with easy-to-understand methods and tools that can be applied to behavior analytic principles for overall business process improvement, quality management and healthy behavior change.
Anyone interested in learning about Lean Six Sigma and how to apply it to their practice.
Jennifer is the Director of the Performance Improvement Department at the Medical University of South Carolina and a retired Air Force E9 Chief Master Sergeant with 32 years of clinical, administrative, and performance improvement experience in hospital, ambulatory care, and dental facilities in a variety of settings worldwide.
Jennifer is an accomplished trainer and her practical experience has taken her into many types of industries including healthcare, supply chain, service organizations, aerospace, and manufacturing. She is an invited speaker to numerous conferences, webinars, and symposiums.
She supports MUSC’s executive leadership in the deployment of Lean Six Sigma throughout the organization. Jennifer manages Six Sigma Black and Green Belts, develops and teaches curriculum for Lean Six Sigma education, drives system-wide projects, and customizes Lean Six Sigma methodology to best suit MUSC’s needs.
She is an adjunct faculty member in MUSC College of Health Professions and College of Nursing.
She has an MBA in Human Resources and BS in Occupational Education Health Administration. Jennifer is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt and also holds a LEAN Sensei Certification from Villanova University. Jennifer is a member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), the Institute of Industrial and System Engineers (IISE), Society of Health Systems (SHS), Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Project Management Institute (PMI). She also serves on the American Quality Institute Green Belt International Standard Technical Committee.
Basic and applied behavior analysts with an interest in stimulus control.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 160 (0.6%) children around the world has Autism. Based upon prevalence rates published by a small number of countries around the world, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the autism prevalence rate for international markets may range from 1% to 2%. Applying the conservative WHO estimate of 1 in 160 to the 2.2 Billion children in the world (per Unicef), there are nearly 14 million children in the world with autism. Adding adolescents and adults to that figure may be as high as 20 to 30 million people in the world living with autism. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the globally agreed-upon gold standard for autism intervention. There are less than 40,000 Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA), who are experts in implementing behavior analysis in applied settings in the world. According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), the international credentialing body that governs practitioners of Applied Behavior Analysis -- BCBAs (including BCBA-D and BCaBA) and RBTs -- less than 10% of BCBAs (et al.) practice outside the U.S. The current reality is that there are less than 4,000 BCBAs available to serve the needs of nearly 18 to 19 million people with autism living outside the United States. Faced with these seemingly insurmountable numbers, it would be very easy for international BCBAs to throw treatment integrity out the window. However, a great majority of international BCBAs are committed to preserving the integrity and efficacy of ABA services. International BCBAs with a dual objective of maintaining treatment integrity while helping the masses are faced with a herculean task, some of which can be tackled with a scalable Global Supervision Framework. During this panel discussion, we will introduce the Global Supervision Framework, the foundation of which relies on a group supervision model designed to maximize existing resources to scale while maintaining treatment integrity. The panel, comprised of BCBAs whose primary practice is located in India; a BCBA who builds sustainable clinical capacity with fifteen pre-existing centres in thirteen different countries as well as two international verified course sequences;; and a faculty member whose primary body of work includes providing support to BCBA practitioners who support individuals with autism across the lifespan. As part of the discussion, we will present results of a research study conducted in partnership with Stepping Stones Center and Bingham University on the positive impacts of systematically incorporating structured journal assignments (i.e. Journal Club) in group supervision settings with behavior technicians / RBTs as a means to increase clinical competency. We will close the discussion by presenting examples of group supervision models with demonstrated efficacy in center-based (in-person) and remote (telehealth) settings. Upon the conclusion of this panel discussion, learners will be able to: (1) Explain the demand for ABA services in international markets; (2) Discuss 3 to 5 key challenges to maintaining treatment integrity when providing ABA services in international markets; (3) Discuss 3 to 5 key barriers to providing effective supervision in international markets; (4) Explain the Global Supervision Framework; (5) Discuss the benefits of incorporating a Journal Club to group supervision; (6) Become familiar with effective group supervision models used in international markets for both in-person supervision and telehealth supervision.
BCaBA, BCBA, BCBA-D
Basic and applied researchers, clinicians.
Reading and writing skills refer to a network of equivalence relations between stimuli (e.g., printed words, dictated words, and pictures) and between stimuli and responses (e.g., picture naming, textual responding, writing, etc.). This conceptual framework has served as a foundation to the development of assessment tools and teaching procedures. Concerning the assessment of repertoires, this presentation will describe empirical data on the network of S-S and R-S relations, as measured by an online instrument, comprised of 15 tasks assessing auditory-visual and visual-visual matching-to-sample, picture naming, reading and writing skills. The goal was to characterize the performance of beginning readers. The instrument was administered to approximately 2300 students (6- to 12-year-olds), and results suggest that the matching skills were significantly correlated with textual behavior and dictation-taking. An "integration" index showed, as predicted by the stimulus equivalence paradigm, that accuracy increased as the entire repertoire developed. The integration index may be a useful tool for the prediction and evaluation of the effects of teaching programs for establishing this repertoire in non-readers. The presentation will also summarize the main results of two procedures designed to teach arbitrary relations between dictated words and printed words, namely, the exclusion procedure and the stimulus-pairing with orientation response procedure. Both procedures can be easily implemented via computers, and the results have shown that they can be effectively used for the systematic teaching of a large set of the target relations.
Deisy de Souza is Full Professor at the Psychology Department, Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil, where she teaches behavior analysis in graduate and undergraduate courses in Psychology, and in Special Education. She obtained her Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Universidade de São Paulo (USP), under the direction of Carolina Bori, and held a post-doctoral position at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, working with Charlie Catania. She has published articles and book chapters on non-human and human relational learning, including studies applying the stimulus equivalence paradigm to investigate the acquisition of symbolic relations involved in reading and writing, and in developing curricula to teach those skills. She is past-Editor of the Brazilian Journal of Behavior Analysis (BJBA), past-Associate Editor of Acta Comportamentalia, and she is currently a member of the Board of Editors of JEAB. She was designated as ABAI Fellow (2018) and is the recipient of the 2015 Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior by the Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior Special Interest Group.
Cognitive loss and associated functional decline can reflect many different physiological processes, some of which are progressive and neurodegenerative, others stable or even reversible. Behavior analysts, through their measurement-based practice, are uniquely positioned to detect fluctuations in proficiencies and skill levels that are potentially indicative of decline, and to implement assessment and intervention. The goals of this tutorial are twofold: (1) to provide an overview of neurocognitive disorders, such as those from Alzheimer’s, Lewy body disease, or stroke, and prominent risk factors, such as age and an already compromised nervous system due to prior traumatic brain injury, chronic disease, lifestyle factors, or particular preexisting neurodevelopmental disorders; and (2) to offer a practical step-by-step guide to ruling out reversible conditions, ascertain the appropriate level of social and physical support, and address potential behavioral and emotional changes. Video and audio examples will be provided for training purposes, to illustrate the heterogeneity of individuals’ reactions to functional decline, the difficulties of family members to follow behavioral plans or adapt to their loved one’s loss of skills or repertoires, and the need for medical care navigation. The tutorial will introduce cognitive loss and functional decline as a high-need specialty practice area, amenable to workforce development in behavior analysis.
Students; behavior analysts interested in an introduction to the specialty area or in expanding their practice; behavior analysts encountering individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and decline; and family care partners.
Substance use disorders, like many health problems, are concentrated in people who live in poverty. This presentation will review research on the application of operant conditioning to address the interrelated problems of poverty and substance use disorders. Our research has clearly shown that operant reinforcement using financial incentives can promote abstinence from heroin and cocaine in low-income adults with substance use disorders. The use of operant conditioning to reduce poverty is less well-established. However, our research on an employment-based intervention called the therapeutic workplace suggests that operant conditioning could promote behaviors that may facilitate the transition out of poverty. In the therapeutic workplace, unemployed adults with substance use disorders are paid to work but must provide drug-negative urine samples or take prescribed medication to maximize pay. The therapeutic workplace offers a job-skills training phase and an employment phase through which participants progress sequentially. Our research has shown that employment-based reinforcement within the therapeutic workplace can promote drug abstinence, medication adherence, job seeking, and employment. The therapeutic workplace could provide an effective framework for broader anti-poverty programs, but more research is needed to determine whether such interventions consistently reduce poverty, and how best to implement these at scale.
Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students
Presidential Address: Compassionate Behaviorism
Many are concerned about the state of the world. The effects of climate change, political polarization, and backlash to social movements that cultivate equality threaten our future. Even outside and within our own discipline, conflict continues. Many of us joined ABAI because we support the vision that the problems of the world can be solved through the principles of behavior analysis. Can they?
Perhaps. Many of the answers to the world’s problems still reside within the discipline; indeed, our own community of behavior scientists and behavior analysts have continued to generate some of the solutions. However, seeking perspective outside of the discipline to understand the complex contingencies of social groups, networks, and organizations is also critical. An integration of these viewpoints is the foundation for a compassionate behaviorism—a philosophy that includes the action and verbal behavior of humility, behavioral flexibility, self-control, perspective taking, and empathy. These terms will be carefully defined and their functions discussed. Compassionate behavioral action can be and should be practiced at multiple levels: toward our earth, towards outsiders of our verbal communities, to those within our verbal communities, and even towards ourselves.
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