Association for Behavior Analysis International

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


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Program by B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Events: Saturday, May 28, 2022


B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #24
Preventing and Identifying Human Trafficking Among Individuals With Disabilities
Saturday, May 28, 2022
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 256
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Susan Wilczynski (Ball State University)
CE Instructor: Susan Wilczynski, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: LAURA CUSACK (Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc.)

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at increased risk for abuse, violence, and human trafficking. According to the Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA), trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sex, or if the individual is under 18 years. Labor trafficking includes involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. Individuals with disabilities may be targeted as they may be more isolated, be more easily manipulated and groomed or not be able to communicate what is occurring. Sometimes there are signs of abuse such as an increase in certain behaviors, difficulty at school, home or therapy and new behaviors not present prior. Considering that some children with disabilities are nonverbal they may not be able to communicate any abuse that may be occurring. It is vital to teach healthy and unhealthy relationships, appropriate and inappropriate touch, how to communicate an occurrence and who they should confide in. More research should be conducted with individuals with disabilities for identification, screening, and prevention. All clinics should include mandatory training for human trafficking and abuse prevention and identification. Collaboration with therapists and families is vital to increase training and reporting to reduce the rates of human trafficking in this population.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

BCBAs, RBTs, anyone developing treatment plans and/or working with youth or those who may be at risk for abuse

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain human trafficking; (2) outline risk factors for human trafficking among clients with disabilities; (3) identify barriers to reporting faced by clients; (4) connect at-risk individuals to national resources.
LAURA CUSACK (Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc.)
Laura Cusack is a Senior Crime Victim Practitioner at the Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc. and serves as the President for the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches. She currently participates on Palm Beach County’s Sexual Assault Response Team’s Community Action Network and Training Committee. She also serves on the People with Disabilities Community Consultant Panel, as well as is a member of the National Human Trafficking and Disabilities Working Group. Laura’s experience includes providing training to service providers on specific needs of crime victims with disabilities according to the Rehab Act, ADA, and fair housing act, as well as providing training on human trafficking and crimes against children; facilitating psychoeducational groups for high-risk youth with trauma-related disabilities; and leading community outreach efforts. Laura launched the Hope Campaign in Florida, a community outreach in Palm Beach County that works with local hotels to identify missing children and increase public access to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. She has also conducted street outreach with law enforcement to women in street-based prostitution to promote safety and wellness, and has instructed a criminal diversion curriculum to men arrested for buying sex. Laura is a member of the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force, and regularly attends the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking meetings. Laura earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Florida Atlantic University and is certified in the My Life My Choice, iEmpathize Empower Youth Program, and Men Breaking Free national curriculum.
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #43
Partnering With Caregivers to Support Development in Young Children With Autism
Saturday, May 28, 2022
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Ballroom Level 3; Ballroom East/West
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Corina Jimenez-Gomez (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Aubyn C. Stahmer, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: AUBYN STAHMER (UC Davis Health)

Caregiver-mediated early interventions have demonstrated positive child and family outcomes for young children with, or at high likelihood of having, autism (Zwaigenbaum et al., 2015; Burrell & Borrego, 2012). Additionally, there is consensus that effective early intervention includes a caregiver component, including input in the development of treatment goals and priorities, identifying support for the family, and learning specific strategies to support their child’s development. However, many intervention providers working with children with autism and their families have limited training in how to partner with parents or how to coach them in the use of evidence-based intervention strategies. Recent research has identified key elements for caregiver coaching and engagement (e.g., Pellecchia et al., 2020). This presentation will examine the literature on effective coaching strategies and provide methods to increase caregiver partnership in the intervention process. The use of telehealth to deliver coaching will be examined.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Target Audience: Providers and researchers interested in engaging caregivers in delivering interventions
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe at least three strategies for engaging caregivers in early intervention; (2) identify at least three barriers to caregiver participation in early intervention and strategies to address those barriers; (3) consider methods for individualizing caregiver involvement in intervention based on family characteristics and needs; (4) identify common elements of caregiver coaching across evidence-based early interventions; (5) identify potential benefits and drawbacks of caregiver coaching through telehealth platforms.
Dr. Aubyn Stahmer is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the UC Davis MIND Institute, a clinical psychologist and a board certified behavior analyst. She directs the Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Stahmer has over 25 years of experience in implementation of evidence-based practices for children with autism, including a range of caregiver-implemented interventions. She is an expert in the translation of evidence-based autism research to community-based practice and delivery. She is an internationally respected expert in the use of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions which are validated treatments for autism. Dr. Stahmer has conducted extensive research in the areas of caregiver coaching, early intervention, inclusive education and services research in autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Stahmer leads several grants funded through the U.S. Department of Education that involve adapting evidence-based practices for children with autism in collaboration with teachers and community providers.
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #78
Understanding Language Development: The Deeper Wisdom in B. F. Skinner’s Completely Incorrect Theory
Saturday, May 28, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 256
Area: VRB; Domain: Theory
Chair: Rocio Rosales (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
CE Instructor: Catherine Snow, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: CATHERINE SNOW (Harvard University)

In 1959 Noam Chomsky published a famously scathing review of Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior. For the next 30 or so years, invoking the role of the child’s language environment in explaining acquisition was viewed positively only in limited clinical and restricted educational contexts, while the majority of legitimate child language researchers focused on children’s acquisition of rules and abstract patterns remote from their actual verbal behavior. However, the role of the child’s language environment was never fully ignored as a research topic, and in the last 30 years has regained legitimacy as an explanation for individual and group differences in rate and course of acquisition. Although some might take this as an affirmation of the claims in Verbal Behavior, child language researchers would vehemently reject that interpretation, noting, for example, the central role that must be attributed to infants’ innate social-pragmatic categories and their general cognitive capacities, which far transcend the learning mechanisms Skinner posited. This talk will summarize the findings supporting a role for variation in the child’s language environment in explaining aspects of language development, and argue that the polarizing dispute between Skinner and Chomsky retarded progress toward understanding how children’s innate socio-pragmatic skills and linguistic input interact to support language development.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: Anyone interested in language development or the intellectual history of behavior analysis.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain to parents or supervisors the mechanism by which producing verbal behavior can contribute to learning language; (2) explain to parents or supervisors why success at inducing verbal behavior falls so far short of supporting language acquisition; (3) reconsider the wisdom of engaging in polarized debates about language development.
CATHERINE SNOW (Harvard University)
Catherine Snow is the Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She received her Ph.D. in 1971 from McGill University, having written a dissertation on Mothers’ Speech to Children in which she argued against Chomsky’s claim that the ‘primary linguistic data’ available to children was misleading, degraded, and ungrammatical. She subsequently worked for 8 years in the Linguistics Department of the University of Amsterdam, and has worked since 1980 at Harvard. Her current work focuses on the quality of early childhood programs, and on promoting discussion to support learning in elementary classrooms.
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #140
Positive and Negative Reinforcing Effects of Opioids: The Opponent Process Theory From a Clinical Perspective
Saturday, May 28, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Ballroom Level 3; Ballroom East/West
Area: BPN
Chair: Sally L. Huskinson (University of Mississippi Medical Center)
CE Instructor: Sandra Comer, Please Select...
Presenting Author: SANDRA COMER (New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University)

Over 92,000 drug-related overdose deaths, the majority of which were due to opioids, were reported in the U.S. in 2020 ( This increase in opioid-related overdose deaths occurred despite the availability of several effective treatment medications. Both positive and negative reinforcing effects of opioids may underlie the initiation of opioid use and development and maintenance of opioid use disorder (OUD). Some investigators suggest that the negative reinforcing effects of opioids become more prominent with repeated use. Evidence for this position will be presented using clinical data from a variety of sources. While both processes appear to be supported by the data, the relative contribution of positive and negative reinforcing effects in maintaining opioid use is unclear. Additional research should be conducted to directly address this issue because it has relevance for the development of more effective pharmacotherapeutic and behavioral treatment strategies for OUD.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience: Basic researchers and clinicians
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) examine clinical laboratory data using self-administration paradigms and subjective reports of drug effects and opioid withdrawal symptoms to assess the positive and negative reinforcing effects of opioids; (2) characterize opioid self-administration among individuals who are maintained on medications for treating OUD; (3) evaluate self-reported reasons for using heroin among a large cohort of individuals with OUD.
SANDRA COMER (New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University)

Dr. Sandra Comer is Professor of Neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. She received her BS at Vanderbilt University and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan for her research on the effects of drugs using preclinical models. Dr. Comer is Director of the Opioid Laboratory in the Division on Substance Use Disorders and her current research focus is on the clinical testing of medications for treating opioid use disorder, methods to maximize the use of naloxone by opioid users, and evaluations of the comparative abuse liability of prescribed pain medications. Dr. Comer served as President of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, the longest standing scholarly society in the U.S. devoted to research on substance use disorders, and currently is the Public Policy Officer for CPDD. Dr. Comer is a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization and has over 160 publications on substance use disorders.




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