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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Program by Continuing Education Events: Sunday, May 30, 2021


Paper Session #180
CE Offered: BACB
From Baselines to Phase Lines: The State of Behavior Analysis in Florida's Agency for Persons With Disabilities
Sunday, May 30, 2021
9:00 AM–9:25 AM EDT
Area: DDA
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Kristin J. Korinko (APD-Agency for Persons with Disabilities)
CE Instructor: Kristin J. Korinko, Ph.D.

From Baselines to Phase Lines: The State of Behavior Analysis in Florida’s Agency for Persons With Disabilities

Domain: Service Delivery
KRISTIN J. KORINKO (APD-Agency for Persons with Disabilities), Scott Traynor (Agency for Persons with Disabilities)

This paper presentation will review progress made in one state agency across several projects of interest. A disproportionately small number of consumers engage in target behaviors that have the greatest intensity and resultant consequences such as admission to Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs), emergency room visits, and incarceration. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is a government agency who is tasked with funding and overseeing behavioral and medical supports for these “high watch consumers”. By creating a “High Watch List” of qualifying aberrant behaviors and/or acute medical episodes, APD can provide additional resources for these individuals in the form of more frequent oversight and technical assistance on individualized recommendations. In this way, a larger allocation of time and resources can be more focused to effect long term outcomes. Additionally, proactive recommendations to prevent future episodes can result in more stabilized living settings, consistent service delivery, and potential higher indices of satisfaction of services received by consumers. The results of this project has the potential for applicable state agencies to develop similar processes to serve consumers that have a disproportionately higher level of impactful behaviors that addressed successfully, can improve the quality of service provision while lowering long term costs.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) list and describe the intervention strategies that one state agency (Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD)) have implemented in response to the changing needs of our consumers (i.e., the pandemic, assessments, and the promotion of least restrictive strategies); (2) compile and describe one particular application implemented in Florida known as the “The High Watch Project.”
Invited Paper Session #182
CE Offered: BACB
Fido, No! Using Principles From Behaviour Analysis to Investigate Canine Undesired Behaviour, Owner Training, and Interventions
Sunday, May 30, 2021
9:00 AM–9:50 AM EDT
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Erica N. Feuerbacher (Virginia Tech)
CE Instructor: Nicole Pfaller-Sadovsky, M.S.
Presenting Author: NICOLE PFALLER-SADOVSKY (Queen's University Belfast)

Dog ownership has been shown to provide many benefits to humans, such as increased and regular walking, improved cardiovascular health, as well as increased social interactions. However, dogs can display behaviours that are problematic for their owners and their respective social environment. Such behaviours include jumping up on people or aggressive responses toward other individuals. In an effort to alleviate their dogs’ problematic behaviour, owners often reach out to companion animal behaviourists or trainers. However, the interventions’ effectiveness and their outcomes can be variable, especially if there are a lack of resources, such as time, skills, and finances. Unresolved problem behaviour in dogs often leads to a breakdown of the owner-dog relationship and may result in relinquishment and euthanasia. Therefore, our research is aimed at investigating the characteristics of behavioural interventions that may contribute to their ease of implementation and effectiveness (e.g., clicker training and time-based delivery of reinforcers). This presentation will introduce our work on systematically testing intervention components, such as modelling or feedback. We identified variables maintaining problematic behaviour through functional behaviour assessments, and implemented interventions based on respective information. Attendees will learn about the effectiveness of different intervention components, the time-based response-independent delivery of reinforcers (i.e., noncontingent reinforcement) and clicker training.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Applied behaviour analysts, animal behaviourists, students, and dog owners

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation attendees will be able to: (1) identify intervention components that increase effectiveness; (2) discuss the time-based response-independent presentation of a reinforcer (noncontingent reinforcement) with dogs; (3) discuss the implementation and effectiveness of clicker training.
NICOLE PFALLER-SADOVSKY (Queen's University Belfast)

As a long-time dog owner (since 1994) and a “Dog Trainer Certified According to Animal Welfare and Protection Legislation” (awarded by the Austrian Ministry of Health and the Messerli Research Institute), Nicole founded her own dog training business in 2008, Happy-Fellow® Coaching & Seminars. Since then she has worked with a range of clients whose dogs display problematic behaviours, such as fear-related behaviour, inter- and intraspecific aggression or stereotypic behaviours. Additionally to her work as a behaviour consultant, Nicole frequently teaches retrieving classes as a fun and stimulating activity for all dogs but also for dog-owner teams participating in retriever-specific competitions. Nicole holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Animal Behaviour from the University of Portsmouth (UK) and a MSc degree in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Queen’s University Belfast (UK). Currently, Nicole is working toward her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Behaviour Analysis at Queen’s University Belfast. She conducts research on canine learning, human-dog interactions and owner training from a behaviour-analytic perspective.

Invited Paper Session #183
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Beyond Intervention: How Behaviour Analysis Can Contribute to an Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sunday, May 30, 2021
9:00 AM–9:50 AM EDT
Area: AUT; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University)
CE Instructor: Francesca Degli Espinosa, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: FRANCESCA DEGLI ESPINOSA (ABA Clinic)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most researched conditions within the field of psychology and education. While ABA-based early intervention is considered the most effective evidence-based comprehensive approach to increase skills and reduce problem behaviour in young children affected by ASD, behaviour analysis has yet to provide an analysis of the unique repertoires of children with autism. Instead, the most widely accepted explanations of learning deficits associated with ASD are almost exclusively non-behavioural. In this talk I will discuss the importance of a behavioural account for understanding the unique challenges associated with ASD. At minimum, such an account must be able to address three areas of cognition, widely understood to be compromised in ASD: joint attention, theory of mind, and executive functioning. Developing a comprehensive behavioural conceptual framework that addresses these areas would give behaviour analysis a seat at a table traditionally occupied by other disciplines. Behaviour analysis may then be seen not merely as a collection of techniques to decrease problem behavior or to produce isolated skills.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

behaviour analysts, speech and language therapists, education professionals

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) discuss mainstream autism theories; (2) discuss syndrome-specific ASD deficits; (3) analyze impairments characteristic of ASD.
Francesca Degli Espinosa, Ph.D, BCBA-D, is director and consultant at ABA Clinic Ltd., adjunct professor at the University of Salerno, and a guest lecturer at Queen's College, Belfast, and Pennsylvania State University. 
Symposium #184
Advances in Teaching and Assessing Conversation Skills With Adults
Sunday, May 30, 2021
9:00 AM–9:50 AM EDT
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Carissa Basile (Marquette University )
CE Instructor: Carissa Basile, M.S.

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities often demonstrate deficits in conversation and professional skills, and thus may have difficulty developing friendships and finding employment. The growing literature on social skills has evaluated teaching conversation and professional skills as well as using normative data to determine what skills should be taught. This symposium will begin with Sylvia Aquino presenting descriptive data on how individuals respond to preferred, neutral, and nonpreferred topics of conversations. The authors found that the frequency of comments and length of utterances changed depending on the type of conversation topic. The second presenter, Whitney Pubylski-Yanofchick will discuss teaching adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to initiate and respond to professional emails. As a result of a sequential training progression from group instruction to individualized training with feedback and error correction, all participants learned to compose professional emails. Last, Brandt Kail will discuss teaching adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to use virtual platforms and interact with others in a virtual setting. Using behavioral skills training, feedback, and reinforcement, all participants acquired the necessary requisite skills to be successful in virtual meetings.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Adults, Conversation Skills, Professional Skills, Social Skills
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: 1) Attendees will be able to identify how individuals respond to conversations on topics with neutral, preferred, or aversive properties. 2) Attendees will be able to describe the importance of conducting descriptive assessments of social skills. 3) Attendees will be able to describe the use of behavioral skills training for teaching professional email writing skills. 4) Attendees will be able to identify important components of professional emails. 5) Attendees will be able to identify some basic skills important for successful interactions in virtual settings. 6) Attendees will be able to describe the use of behavioral skills training and virtual reinforcement for teaching skills via video conferencing.
A Descriptive Assessment of Active Listening and Topics for Initiating Future Conversations
SYLVIA AQUINO (Marquette University ), Stephanie A. Hood (Marquette University )
Abstract: In conversations, active listening is an important skill for developing and maintaining meaningful relationships. Little research exists on how to teach someone how to actively listen and then use this information in subsequent conversations. Listeners must discriminate between topics the conversation partner