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

Event Details

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Symposium #303
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Culturally Responsive Behavior Analytic Practice: Conceptualization, Training, and Impact
Sunday, May 29, 2022
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 258C
Area: AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Kimberly Marshall (University of Oregon; Endicott College)
Discussant: Rocio Rosales (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
CE Instructor: Rocio Rosales, Ph.D.

In an increasingly diverse world, it is imperative that practitioners of applied behavior analysis reflect on what it means to be culturally responsive, identify best practices for serving diverse and, particularly, marginalized clients and families, and evaluate methods for training staff to be culturally responsive in their interactions with clients. Across the papers within this symposium, the importance of recognizing client demographics as a meaningful variable in behavior analytic practice and research will be highlighted. In addition, a competency checklist for identifying practitioners’ strengths and areas of need with regard to culturally responsive services for individuals on the autism spectrum will be introduced. Finally, a study evaluating the use of behavioral skills training to teach cultural competence will show that components of the complex skill set of cultural responsiveness can be operationalized and successfully trained. Behavior analysis has been effectively applied across many populations, this symposium will emphasize the work that continues to be needed in ensuring that behavior analytic technology can be effectively applied across diverse and marginalized populations in a respectful and responsive manner.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe how ABA service hours were disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, across children of diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. (2) Describe simple values and present moment interventions that can be used for supporting immigrant parents. (3) Identify behaviors toward a more culturally responsive practice with clients, caregivers, colleagues, and/or local communities. (4) Through a self-assessment, identify potential areas in which to acquire mentorship and ongoing education. (5) Identify skill repertoires which RBTs can be trained on in relation to Cultural Humility and Cultural Competence. (6) Identify methods for identifying and operationally defining soft skills repertoires associated with session feedback.
Diversity submission 

The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Therapy Utilization Among Racially/Ethnically and Socio-Economically Diverse Children With Autism Spectrum

(Applied Research)
CASSIN GONZALES (University of Southern California), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Steven Lopez (University of Southern California), Jennifer Simmonell (University of Southern California), Claudia Rodriguez Gallegos (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)

Early research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) provides evidence of service disruption and worsening behavioral outcomes. The current study evaluates change in hours of ABA therapy before and through the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption differed based on the race/ethnicity and socio-economic status of the child. Retrospective clinical data on client therapy utilization was collected from 5 ABA clinics in California (N=203). Using repeated measures ANOVA, we evaluated change in therapy hours through time and the moderating effects of child’s race/ethnicity and child’s primary therapy funder. We found that there was a significant effect of time on hours of ABA therapy so that there was a reduction in hours between pre COVID-19 and the beginning of COVID-19 with no significant changes in hours of ABA therapy between the beginning of COVID-19 and 6 months into the pandemic. Analysis of moderators revealed no significant effect of race or race x payer on the relationship between time and hours of ABA therapy. Children who receive funding from school districts had a more severe drop in ABA therapy hours during the pandemic compared to others. These findings indicate that ABA therapy hours may have been disrupted for longer periods than anticipated and implications for access to ABA for children during historical moments of healthcare disruption are discussed.

Diversity submission 

Evaluation of a Zoom-Based, Bilingual Acceptance and Commitment Training Parent Training Program for Supporting Parents in the Undocumented Immigrant Community

(Applied Research)
CLAUDIA RODRIGUEZ GALLEGOS (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)

Research supports behavioral approaches to parent training but applied behavior analytic (ABA) research, and the social sciences in general, have neglected to include diverse populations in research. One population that has received little or no ABA research is undocumented immigrants. Parents who are undocumented often face multiple layers of adversity, especially regarding accessibility of resources for their children. Barriers often include limited host-language knowledge and fear of contacting authority figures to access services. Parenting can be stressful for all parents and this stress may be exacerbated by the additional stressors that undocumented parents face. Acceptance and commitment training (ACT) is an empirically validated behavior analytic approach to empowering socially meaningful overt behavior change in typically developing adults, but very little research has evaluated ACT training for diverse families, let alone parents without legal immigration status. This multiple baseline study evaluated bilingual, culturally adapted ACT training, delivered over Zoom, for immigrant parents. Target behaviors were self-selected by participants, based on their chosen values. Data collection for one participant is complete and is ongoing for two more. Initial data suggest the program is effective and social validity data suggest a good cultural fit.

Diversity submission 

Cultural Responsiveness in Applied Behavior Analysis-Based Autism Services

KRISTINE RODRIGUEZ (Autism Learning Partners; Endicott College), Sneha Kohli Mathur (University of Southern California)

Clients of applied behavior analysis (ABA), specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), regularly experience the effects of systemic racism via biases (implicit and explicit) in the healthcare system. Examples include delayed diagnosis, missed diagnosis, delayed access to services, culturally inappropriate programming, etc. ABA as a science and practice offers the necessary tools to support immediate, concrete actions toward social justice, including the work of improving timeliness of diagnosis, access to services, and appropriate programming. This paper offers a brief conceptual discussion of cultural responsiveness and humility within autism services. A framework for cultural responsiveness will be offered as a tool to measure a behavior analyst’s skill set across domains of practice and across multiple areas of professional development, with a focus on driving more responsive ABA-based autism services to marginalized communities. While the professional development competency checklist was designed to be applied across settings (e.g., education, community engagement, within a provider organization), this talk will focus especially on applications within an agency/provider organization.

Diversity submission Providing Culturally Competent Session Feedback in Applied Behavior Analysis
(Applied Research)
BRITANY MELTON (Endicott College; Journeys Autism Center), Nicholas Vincent Orland (Dubai Autism Center/Endicott College)
Abstract: Dubai, United Arab Emirates is composed of 90% expats who hail from various parts of the world (such as the United Kingdom, India, and Philippines amongst many other). As Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) provide session feedback to these parents from various parts of the world, miscommunications can occur which can potentially cause a variety of challenges (which can range from the therapist being viewed as “rude” by the parent to the parent discontinuing the service due to a miscommunication). A multiple baseline study across participants was employed at the Dubai Autism Center (a state-of-the-art treatment environment located in the Dubai, United Arab Emirates) with 5 RBTs. The RBTs were trained on core competence skills associated with providing culturally sensitive session feedback. Behavior Skills Training (BST) was utilized as the training intervention. Results indicated mastery criteria within 3 to 5 teaching sessions and maintained over time across maintenance and generalization probes. Keywords: Staff training, cultural competence, behavioral skills training



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