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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #234
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

A Frontier for Applied Behavior Analysis: Altering the Natural Platform of Social Brain Development in Infants and Toddlers With Autism

Sunday, May 24, 2015
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
006AB (CC)
Area: AUT; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Jennifer N. Fritz, Ph.D.
Chair: Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
AMI KLIN (Emory University)
Ami Klin, Ph.D., is the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Professor and chief of the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Emory University School of Medicine, and director of the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of London, and completed clinical and research post-doctoral fellowships at the Yale Child Study Center. He directed the Autism Program at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, until 2010, and moved to Atlanta in 2011. The Marcus Autism Center is one of the three research centers in the country designated as a National Institutes of Health Autism Center of Excellence.

Highlighting the critical role of early diagnosis and intervention in attenuating the symptoms of autism, data will be presented on early diagnostic indicators obtained through eye-tracking-based behavioral assays that quantify social disabilities. Results generate "growth charts" of normative social engagement, and deviations from the norm are taken as early indicators of risk. The ultimate goal of this effort is to develop objectified and quantified tools for the detection of autism in infancy, tools that might be deployed in primary care and pediatricians’ offices. Both the science and the translational efforts described in this presentation set up a new challenge to ABA technologies. The natural platform for social and communication brain development in infants and toddlers is reciprocal interaction between children and their caregivers. In autism, this learning environment represents the instantiation of genetic vulnerabilities into atypical social and communication experiences, likely due to children’s attenuated social orienting and engagement behavior. The derailment of reciprocal social engagement appears to lead to the emergence of autism symptoms in the second year of life. How can we alter this process, within the confines of naturalistic mother-child social engagement, defines new challenges to ABA, indeed a new frontier.

Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, practitioners, and graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the workshop, participants should be able to: (1) recognize the early symptoms of autism, and new research shedding light on disruptions of foundational mechanisms of socialization; (2) describe efforts to redefine autism for the biological sciences, resulting from advances in genetics and social neuroscience, and will recognize the significant of these new insights to clinical practice; and (3) explain the new opportunities that this body of research opens for early intervention and for new research combining molecular genetics and social neuroscience. 



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