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

Event Details

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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
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.

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 )

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)

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)

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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