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 #488
Diversity submission Voices from Our Clients: Improving the Cultural Responsiveness of Behavioral Intervention
Monday, May 30, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 254A
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Kylan S. Turner (Simmons University)

This symposium consists of three presentations of papers and a chair introduction. The first two papers in the presentation directly investigate cultural values and adaptations that may be made to increase feasibility and social validity of behavioral health service delivery. The third paper in this symposium focuses more broadly on the potential steps behavior analysis can take as a field to be more humble and responsive to vulnerable populations; providing broad implications and future directions of research from the first two papers. Overall, the objective of all of these papers is to identify and overcome barriers to reaching diverse groups applying our highly effective science.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): culture, diversity, latinx, social validity
Diversity submission 

Understanding the Role of Cultural Values in Applied Behavior Analysis Service Delivery from Latinx Families

MARIELA CASTRO-HOSTETLER (University of Nevada, Reno), Bethany P. Contreras Young (University of Nevada, Reno), Ircia Kille (Easter Seals ), Lizbeth Vega Lopez (University of Nevada, Reno)

Abstract: Research in applied behavior analysis (ABA) is starting to explore service delivery to Latinx families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; see Rosales et al., 2021). However, there is still limited research focused on experiences with Latinx families receiving ABA services and how to culturally adapt treatments. The purpose of this study was to identify and learn about the cultural and language barriers that Latinx families in Nevada face when accessing ABA services for their children with ASD. We distributed surveys, conducted structured interviews, and focus groups with Latinx families in Nevada. We used qualitative methods to examine family’s experiences when receiving services. Results from the study discuss important Latinx cultural values for practitioners to consider and implications for service delivery for Latinx parents of children with ASD.

Diversity submission 

Cultural Acceptability of Applied Behavior Analysis Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder

KYLAN S. TURNER (Simmons University), Erin Rotheram-Fuller (Arizona State University)

Abstract: Training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been shown to decrease problem behavior and reduce parental stress. To date, these trainings have not been extensively studied with non-English speaking populations. The current pilot study examined the feasibility of a 10-session ABA parent training intervention program for monolingual Spanish-speaking parents of school-aged children with ASD. Nine families (n=11 parents) participated in six group and four individual ABA training sessions. Attendance across all sessions was 84.6%. In addition to reductions in parent-nominated target problem behaviors, 78% of the families reported the interventions were acceptable and effective. Significant reductions in caregiver stress were reported from pre- to post-intervention. Adaptations needed for non-English speaking families with children with autism and interventions tailored to cultural expectations to increase social validity are discussed.

Diversity submission 

Topography Matters: Improving the Social Validity of Behavioral Interventions for the Autism Spectrum Disorder Population

KATIE NICHOLSON (Florida Institute of Technology), Kaitlynn Gokey (Florida Institute of Technology), Kimberly Sloman (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment/ Florida Institute of Technology )

As a whole, behavior analysts are people with big hearts who want nothing more than to help make other people’s lives better. Yet in recent years, there have been growing claims that behavioral intervention derived from the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) employs harmful practices and may even be abusive, particularly with the Autistic population. We are aware that, in the past, behavior analysts have made harmful statements and used procedures that are no longer regarded as ethical (e.g., Rekers & Lovaas) and the field has spoken out against those practices (e.g., LeBlanc, 2020). Our goal as behavior analysts is to facilitate behavior change that will help clients achieve meaningful life outcomes to become the best versions of themselves (Van Houten, 1988). But some other criticisms leveled against ABA are about practices that enjoy wide empirical support, and it is those practices we would like to address in this paper. As our culture evolves, it is important to periodically reexamine our practices, reaffirm our values, and correct course if needed. This paper will present observations and reflections from clinical experiences as well as supervision of aspiring behavior analysts of clinical practices that we feel warrant further introspection as a field.




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