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

Previous Page


Invited Panel #299
Diversity submission Ableism and the Social Model of Disability: What Does it Have to do With Behavior Analysts?
Sunday, May 29, 2022
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 253A-C
Area: PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: Summer Bottini (May Institute)
CE Instructor: Summer Bottini, Ph.D.
Panelists: DOROTHEA C. LERMAN (University of Houston-Clear Lake), STEPHANIE PETERSON (Western Michigan University), ANDREW HALL (Pyles and Associates)

Recipients of behavior analytic services have traditionally been viewed through a medical model lens that treats deficits. Alternatively, a social model of disability views societal barriers and systemic biases as limiting people with disabilities’ ability to thrive and meet their own needs/wants. Some disciplines have increasingly acknowledged this social conceptualization of disability and begun to adopt more equitable language and practices across research and practice. In both research and practice, behavior analysts have generally have not ascribed to a social model of disability, perhaps contributing to ongoing negative perceptions of applied behavior analysis (ABA) in some communities. This panel will begin with a brief overview of terms and concepts relevant to equity in behavior analysis and disability research. Our panel will then discuss these concepts as they relate to ethical research and practice in ABA. Namely, the panel will (1) discuss the importance of considering these concepts as diversity issues in practice, (2) identify indicators of ableism in ABA research and discourse, and (3) consider how subtle ableism may influence behavior analytic interventions. Last, the panel will discuss initial steps behavior analysts may take to challenge their own assumptions and support equity for people with disabilities in our field.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Trainees, direct-care therapists, and active certified behavior analysts at the masters or doctoral level. Individuals that provide/supervise clinical services, consume research, and/or contribute to the empirical literature may benefit from this session.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) define ableism and the social model of disability as it relates to research and practice in behavior analysis; (2) identify behaviors and permanent products that reflect ableism in behavior analytic research; (3) state at least two behaviors that behavior analysts should engage in to promote ethical and equitable care of disabled people or those with developmental delays
DOROTHEA C. LERMAN (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Dorothea Lerman is currently a Professor of Behavior Analysis at the University of Houston - Clear Lake, where she chairs the master’s program in behavior analysis and serves as Director of the UHCL Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD). She received her doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Florida, specializing in behavior analysis. Her areas of expertise include autism, developmental disabilities, early intervention, functional analysis, teacher and parent training, and treatment of severe behavior disorders. She currently oversees several programs at CADD, including a focused intervention program for children with autism, a vocational program for adults with disabilities, a student support program for college students with autism, and a teacher training program for local school districts. Dr. Lerman has published more than 100 research articles and chapters, served as Editor-in-Chief for The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Analysis in Practice and has secured more than $2 million in grants and contracts to support her work. She was the recipient of the 2007 Distinguished Contribution to Applied Behavioral Research Award and the 2001 B.F. Skinner Award for New Researchers, awarded by Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. She also was named a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis-International in 2008. Dr. Lerman is a Licensed Behavior Analyst and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
STEPHANIE PETERSON (Western Michigan University)
Stephanie M. Peterson, Ph.D. is Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University. She earned her doctorate in Special Education at The University of Iowa in 1994. She is also Professor of Psychology and the previous chair of the Department of Psychology. Previously, she taught at Gonzaga University, Utah State University, The Ohio State University, and Idaho State University. Her primary research interests are helping to decrease chronic severe behavior problems in children with developmental disabilities. Specifically, she studies choice making in the treatment of problem behavior, functional communication training, reinforcement-based interventions for children with problem behavior, concurrent schedules of reinforcement in the treatment of severe problem behavior, functional analysis of problem behavior, and teleconsultation. She also has interests in applications of behavior analysis to educational interventions and teacher/behavior analyst training. She has served on a variety of editorial boards, including the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Analysis in Practice and is currently the editor of Behavior Analysis in Practice. She also served as a Senior Editor for Education and Treatment of Children for many years. She served two 3-year terms on the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and was appointed by the Governor of Michigan to the Michigan Board of Behavior Analysts, Michigan’s licensing board for behavior analysts. She served as the President of the Board for two years.
ANDREW HALL (Pyles and Associates)



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh