Association for Behavior Analysis International

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

15th Annual Autism Conference; Online; 2021

Program by Continuing Education Events: Monday, March 1, 2021


 

Invited Paper Session #2
CE Offered: PSY/BACB/NASP
Applied Behavior Analysis and Special Education: Blending Approaches to Meet the Needs of Preschool Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, March 1, 2021
9:10 AM–10:00 AM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Ian Melton (Endicott College; Journeys Behavior Learning Center)
CE Instructor: Ilene Schwartz, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: ILENE SCHWARTZ (University of Washington)
Abstract:

Applied behavior analysis is hands down the most effective treatment for young children with ASD. Many children with ASD receive ABA services at private clinics or from private providers who work with them at home. Many children with ASD, especially those from low income homes, only access the services to which they are entitled through IDEA (the federal special education law). There are often conflicts between behavior analysts who work for behavioral health agencies and teachers and behavior analysts who work for public schools about what services should be provided to young children with ASD and how these services should be provided. The purpose of this presentation is to describe how private BCBAs and public school personnel can work together to meet the needs of young children with ASD. I will describe a school based early intensive behavioral intervention that has sustained in Washington state for over 20 years and provide strategies that can be used to ensure that all children with ASD receive the quality of services to which they are entitled.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss the differences and similarities of special education and applied behavior analysis service delivery systems; (2) discuss the types of skills and behaviors and instructional strategies that can be used to support student learning across environments; (3) discuss the social contexts of the different environments in which students spend time.
 
ILENE SCHWARTZ (University of Washington)
Ilene Schwartz, PhD, BCBA-D (Principal Investigator, Washington Site – 10% FTE). Dr. Ilene Schwartz is a professor in the Area of Special Education at the University of Washington and the Director of the Haring Center for Inclusive Education at UW. She earned her Ph.D. in child and developmental psychology from the University of Kansas and is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA-D). Dr. Schwartz has an active research and professional training agenda with primary interests in the area of autism, inclusive education, and the sustainability of educational interventions. She has had consistent funding from the U.S. Department of Education since 1990 and serves on a number of editorial review boards including the Topics in Early Childhood Special Education and the Journal of Early Intervention. Dr. Schwartz is the director of Project DATA, a model preschool program for children with autism that has been in operation since 1997 and was started as a model demonstration project with OSEP funding. She is currently working on projects to improve the quality of instruction students with disabilities receive in charter schools and strategies that can be used to improve access to services for young children with ASD in under resources areas.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #3
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Early Brain and Behavioral Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Implications for Intervention and Clinical Outcomes
Monday, March 1, 2021
10:10 AM–11:00 AM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Britany Melton (Endicott College)
CE Instructor: Annette Estes, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: ANNETTE ESTES (University of Washington)
Abstract: Infants with older siblings with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a high likelihood of developing ASD. Research with infants with a family history of ASD has opened a window into the early developmental course of ASD. New information about brain and behavioral development and evidence-based clinical practices suggests changes could be on the horizon regarding traditional targets and methods of early intervention with young children with ASD. The potential for improved early identification and clinical outcomes based on this emerging evidence will be explored.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children and recent research on behaviors that precede the onset of ASD symptoms in the first year of life; (2) identify new research on neurobiological signs of ASD that emerge before behaviorally-based autism symptoms can be detected; (3) discuss how early biological and behavioral markers may inform new approaches to clinical intervention for autism spectrum disorder; (4) recognize the impact of early autism intervention on parents and the potential transactional relationship between parental functioning and intervention outcomes.
 
ANNETTE ESTES (University of Washington)
Annette Estes directs the University of Washington Autism Center and is a Research Professor at the University of Washington. She holds the Susan & Richard Fade Endowed Chair. She is a licensed psychologist in the State of Washington. Dr. Estes conducts research to understand the early behavioral and biological signs of autism and to use this information to improve outcomes for children and families with autism. Dr. Estes leads the behavioral assessment core for a national network of researchers studying brain and behavioral development in infants with a family history of autism. She has conducted intervention studies for very young children with autism and is especially interested in the role of the family in supporting positive intervention outcomes.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #4
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Assessment and Treatment of Severe Interfering Behavior via Telehealth
Monday, March 1, 2021
11:30 AM–12:20 PM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Joseph H. Cihon (Autism Partnership Foundation)
CE Instructor: Jennifer McComas, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: JENNIFER MCCOMAS (University of Minnesota)
Abstract:

Unfortunate and unbelievable as it may seem, individuals with ASD who engage in severe interfering behavior have limited, if any, access to effective assessment and intervention if they live in rural areas. Telehealth has emerged as a promising delivery mechanism for behavior analytic approaches to teaching skills and functional communication. Yet tactics for addressing severe interfering behavior such as self-injury and aggression of adolescents have yet to be fully developed. This presentation will feature discussion of tactics for addressing severe interfering behavior and case examples as well as considerations for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) consider appropriate assessment procedures to use via telehealth; (2) list precautions to take to prevent injury to participant and caregivers during web-based assessment of severe interfering behavior; (3) identify conditions under which assessment of interfering behavior via telehealth would be inappropriate.
 
JENNIFER MCCOMAS (University of Minnesota)
My expertise is in the area of functional analysis and treatment of severe challenging behavior and communication of individuals with neurodevelopmental and related disorders. I have applied basic behavioral principles to the effective treatment of challenging behavior maintained by social reinforcers as well as behavior not maintained by any identifiable social reinforcers. In 2014, I launched the Telehealth Behavior Lab (TBL) at the University of Minnesota. We have been using teleconferencing as a means to connect with families and care-providers across the country to provide behavioral consultation to families of individuals with neurodevelopmental and other related disorders and destructive behavior (e.g., self-injurious behavior, aggression, destructive behavior) and to conduct research on functional communication training and maintenance of treatment effects. In addition, the TBL is demonstrating promise for extending our research agenda pertaining to the influence of operant mechanisms on destructive and pro-social behavior.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #5
CE Offered: BACB
Progressive ABA as it Relates to Individuals Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Recent Advancements in Research and Clinical Practice
Monday, March 1, 2021
1:20 PM–2:10 PM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Robert K. Ross (Beacon ABA Services)
CE Instructor: Justin Leaf, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: JUSTIN LEAF (Autism Partnership Foundation)
Abstract:

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a science and, therefore, involves progressive approaches and outcomes. In this presentation we will argue that the spirit and the method of science should be maintained in order to avoid reductionist procedures, stifled innovation, and rote, unresponsive protocols that become increasingly removed from meaningful progress for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We describe this approach as progressive. In a progressive ABA approach, the therapist employs a structured yet flexible process, which is contingent upon and responsive to child progress. We will describe progressive ABA and provide rationales for both the substance and intent of ABA as a progressive scientific method for improving conditions of social relevance for individuals with ASD. We will provide the audience with data from recent studies on how Progressive ABA can be implemented to individuals diagnosed with ASD; as well as our findings in clinical practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students. 

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify and describe at least five factors that go into clinical judgment; (2) identify and describe at least two findings from the research on the effects of Progressive ABA as it relates to individuals diagnosed with ASD; (3) compare and contrast Progressive ABA to conventional ABA across at least three dimensions.
 
JUSTIN LEAF (Autism Partnership Foundation)
Justin Leaf, Ph.D., is the Co-Director of Research and Director of Training for Autism Partnership Foundation and Professor at Endicott College. Justin received his doctorate degree in Behavioral Psychology from the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Currently, Justin leads the research team at Autism Partnership Foundation, which conducts research nationally and internationally. His research interests include examining methods to improve social behaviors for children and adolescents with autism and developing friendships, comparing different teaching methodologies, evaluating parameters of reinforcement, and evaluating long term outcomes for individuals diagnosed with autism. Justin has over 100 publications in either peer reviewed journals, books, or book chapters and has presented at both national and international professional conferences and invited events. Justin also recently edited a book entitled Handbook of Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Assessment, Curricula, and Intervention. Justin is an Associate Editor for Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Justin also serves or has served on the editorial board for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #6
CE Offered: PSY/BACB/NASP
Using a Behavioral Community Approach for Social Validation Through Multisector Collaboration
Monday, March 1, 2021
2:20 PM–3:10 PM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Julia Ferguson (Autism Partnership Foundation)
CE Instructor: Jomella Watson-Thompson, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: JOMELLA WATSON-THOMPSON (University of Kansas)
Abstract:

There is increased attention to addressing problems of significant societal concern, which disproportionately affects marginalized populations and communities. Disparities in autism diagnosis, access to services, and cultural adaptations for underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities will be discussed. The importance of collaborating to address social determinants of health or underlying factors that may serve as antecedents for a range of issues is explored. The application of behavioral community approaches to advance community change through multisector collaboration is examined as a method of social validation. Opportunities are presented for cross-sector and multidisciplinary collaboration between applied behavior analysis and other disciplines including community psychology, prevention, and public health. The presentation examines strengths, challenges, and opportunities to contribute to change and improvements in population-level outcomes, including disparities in autism diagnosis and services, through multisector collaboration.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the importance of addressing social determinants and disparities in autism diagnosis and treatment; (2) explain the importance of multisector collaboration to support change and improvement in population-level outcomes; (3) identify examples of the application of behavioral approaches to address social issues through cross-sector collaboration.
 
JOMELLA WATSON-THOMPSON (University of Kansas)

Dr. Jomella Watson-Thompson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science, and the Director of the Center for Service Learning at the University of Kansas. She is also affiliated with the Center for Community Health and Development. She attained a Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology and a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Kansas. She applies behavioral science methods and interventions to improve how communities address issues related to community health and development. Her research has focused on behavioral-community approaches to neighborhood development, substance abuse prevention, and youth and community violence prevention. Dr. Thompson supports community-engaged scholarship using participatory approaches to address social determinants or factors that may contribute to disparities, particularly for marginalized groups and communities. She has researched the effects of community-based processes and behavioral-community interventions to promote mobilization and change in communities.  Dr. Thompson has co-authored articles on community capacity-building, youth development, and prevention and received numerous federal, state and local funding awards.  She is as an Associate Editor with Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Thompson has extensive experience providing training, technical support and evaluation for coalitions and community-based initiatives.

 
 
Invited Paper Session #7
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Reimbursement for ABA Services: Progress, Challenges, and the Future
Monday, March 1, 2021
3:40 PM–4:30 PM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Ian Melton (Endicott College; Journeys Behavior Learning Center)
CE Instructor: Stephen Gillaspy, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: STEPHEN GILLASPY (American Psychological Association)
Abstract:

Reimbursement for ABA services is vitally important but significant challenges continue to exist. This presentation will provide an overview of the process for developing and valuing CPT codes, describe the purpose of Medically Unlikely Edits (MUEs), review billing and coding issues associated with the provision of ABA services using telehealth, provide an overview of reimbursement challenges with ABA services, and discuss the work of the ABA Billing Codes Commission.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Providers utilizing the ABA CPT Codes.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss the process for developing and valuing CPT codes; (2) describe the purpose of Medically Unlikely Edits (MUEs); (3) discuss the provision of ABA services using telehealth; (4) state current reimbursement challenges with ABA services.
 
STEPHEN GILLASPY (American Psychological Association)
Dr. Stephen R. Gillaspy is a licensed psychologist and since August of 2019 has served as the Senior Director for the Office of Healthcare Finance within the Practice Directorate at the American Psychological Association APA). Prior to joining APA, Dr. Gillaspy was a Professor of Pediatrics within the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center since 2005. He completed his graduate training in Clinical Psychology at Oklahoma State University and completed his Clinical Internship and a Post-doctoral fellowship in Primary Care and Health Psychology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Within the Section of General & Community Pediatrics he served as the Associate Section Chief, Director of Research, and Director of Clinical Psychology. Dr. Gillaspy also serves as the Director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. He has been an active researcher in the areas of pediatric obesity, tobacco control, mental health screening, health disparities, and medical education. At the state level Dr. Gillaspy has served on the Board of the Oklahoma Psychological Association and served as President. Nationally, Dr. Gillaspy has served as the American Psychological Associations Advisor for the Health Care Professional Advisory Committee to the American Medical Association’s Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) and served as a Division 54 (Pediatric Psychology) Representative to the Interdivisional Health Committee (IHC).
 
 
Invited Symposium #8
CE Offered: BACB
Perspectives on Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Spectrum Disorders in African Nations
Monday, March 1, 2021
4:30 PM–6:00 PM EST
Online
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Okey Nwokolo (Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Asaba, Nigeria; Family Insights, Lynchburg, Virginia)
CE Instructor: Okey Nwokolo, Ph.D.
Abstract:

This symposium will focus on obstacles and successes in the implementation of applied behavior analysis for individuals with autism in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria. There will be an extended discussion and Q&A opportunity at the end of the session.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of the presentation participants will be able to: (1) describe the challenges facing communities and families raising autistic children in South Africa who have barriers to accessing ABA services; (2) apply the principles learned during the session on how it is possible to effectively deliver quality ABA programs to various communities; (3) appreciate the importance of correct diagnosis and early and intensive behavioral intervention; (4) discuss the achievements and gains made from implementing ABA despite limited resources.

 

Perspectives on ABA and ASD in Nigeria

BOSEDE ASIKHIA (International Training Center for Applied Behavior Analysis; Association for Behavior Analysis in Nigeria )
Abstract:

The World Health Organization has stated that in Africa, autism spectrum disorders are under recognized, under appreciated in their impact, and under resourced. The palpable difficulties include policies, institutions, infrastructures, leadership problems, and lack of self-organization. Poverty—both financial and “functional education”—the concept of the medical model of treatment and cure, religious beliefs, myths about autism, and ethical issues also present challenges. The number of competent ABA service providers in Africa is very low, resulting in the use of untrained therapists as ABA service providers and misrepresentation of what ABA stands for. This presentation will highlight efforts toward capacity building, raising awareness, and advocacy.

Bosede Ehimen Asikhia, BCBA, QBA, BSc. Ed., MSc. Rehab. & Disability Mgt., is the Program Director for International Training Center for Applied Behavior Analysis Lagos Nigeria and Home-Link International Inc. New Jersey USA, an agency that provides behavioral and educational intervention services for children with developmental disabilities. Bosede Asikhia earned her master’s degree from the University of Dublin, Republic of Ireland and had had her Educational training in Applied Behavior Analysis in Florida Institute of Technology, USA. She is an Educationist and inclusion consultant who ran ABA International School and Sweet Home residential facility in Lagos Nigeria. Bosede Asikhia is a former Program Director of Partial Care Center with the Family Care Center, Inc. in Idaho Falls. She has trained several RBT and Board Certified Behavior Analysts in the United States and in the continent of Africa. Member QABA’s International Standards Committee. She is the current President of the Association for Behavior Analysis in Nigeria [ABAN].
 

Perspectives on ABA and ASD in South Africa

ILANA GERSCHLOWITZ (The Star Academy), LERATO TOLAMO (The Star Academy)
Abstract:

This presentation will focus on the current status of behavior analysis in South Africa, which includes the lack of recognition and regulation of ABA services. The presentation will provide an insight into the challenges facing South African parents of autistic children. The presentation will also discuss strategies for ensuring that the ABA approach be accepted as first-line treatment for autism in South African communities. The presenters will further share information on how high-quality ABA programs can be delivered to various communities even in the absence of medical insurance or government funding.

Ilana Gerschlowitz lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She completed a Commerce Degree in 1997 and qualified as an attorney in 1999 (University of the Witwatersrand). After her eldest son was diagnosed with autism she immersed herself in research to find solutions. In 2009, she hosted the landmark Challenging Children Conference in South Africa which provided a platform for the presentation of the latest treatments and developments in autism including ABA. Thereafter, she founded The Star Academy which provides ABA services to children with autism or a related disorder.

Ilana was recognized for her work in education in 2015 and received the CEO Global award for Africa's most influential woman in Business and Government in the Education and Training Private Sector Category where she won Region, Country and Continent. She sat for the Board Certified Autism Technician (BCAT) examination in 2016, which is accredited by the Behavioral Intervention Certification Council based in the U.S. In 2018 she qualified as a finalist for the Europcar Jewish Woman in Leadership Award.

She has been extensively interviewed in the media and is the author of Saving My Sons: A Journey With Autism which she launched in 2019. Her book sends a powerful message to parents and professionals in the world of autism highlighting the need for and recognition of ABA not only in South Africa but also on the continent of Africa.



Lerato Tolamo is Case Supervisor at The Star Academy. Lerato has a degree in Psychology and an honours in Industrial Psychology (2010), both obtained at the University of Johannesburg. She also had the opportunity to sit for the Board Certified Autism Technician exam, and has worked with families in South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius, London, and now in Kenya. Lerato will be sharing her experience working in ABA. In her words, “Seeing a child breaking boundaries, crashing stereotypes, overcoming the 'impossible' is just so rewarding. It's been over 10 years and every morning, I put on my gloves with pride and prepare for another day of winning.”
 

Perspectives on ABA and ASD in Kenya and Tanzania

POOJA PANESAR (Kaizora Consultants; Kenya Association for Behaviour Analysis; Global Autism Project)
Abstract:

As the field of applied behavior analysis is gaining momentum in African countries, it is important to consider factors to enhance growth, cultural considerations needed, and the impact on the local communities. These factors include accessibility to training and education, validity and applicability of Westernized assessment tools, cultural sensitivity and requirements which vary across the continent, and how to disseminate ABA accurately, effectively and ethically. This presentation will discuss the challenges and successes faced in gaining BACB certification, disseminating information, creating awareness and running centres for individuals with developmental disorders both in Kenya and Tanzania. The importance of cultural aspects during staff and parent training, and the generalizability of resources readily available, how to empower the local community, and how to ensure sustainability will be discussed.

Pooja Panesar, BSc, MEd, BCBA, QBA, IBA, is one of the Founders and Directors of Kaizora Therapies, Kaizora Foundation (Kenya) and Kaizora Child Development Centre (Tanzania). These are multidisciplinary centres serving individuals with developmental disorders and partners with the Global Autism Project. After her brief experience in Applied Behavior Analysis in Ontario, Canada, she returned to Kenya in 2007 and was overwhelmed with the lack of awareness of autism and desperation of parents looking for quality services. When programs to study Applied Behaviour Analysis were rarely available online, she paved her way and received a scholarship to complete her Masters at University of Massachusetts, Boston with online accommodations, along with supervision through the Global Autism Project and became the first Board Certified Behaviour Analyst in East Africa in 2014. Over the past 14 years, she has spearheaded autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion through free of charge events for the community in Kenya. She has been a pioneer in pushing evidence-based interventions for developmental disorders and established Kenya Association of Behavior Analysis, the first ABAI chapter in Africa in 2016. She has presented at numerous conferences including at the United Nations during World Autism Awareness Day. She provides training/consultations for schools, parents, professionals and students and teaches at a local university. She is currently also a member of QABA’s International Standards Committee.
 

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