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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #87
CE Offered: BACB — 
Diversity submission Using Data to Inform Ethical Practices in Research and Clinical Work
Saturday, May 27, 2023
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kathryn Glodowski (Mission Autism Clinics)
Discussant: Amy Gravino (Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services/A.S.C.O.T Consulting)
CE Instructor: Kathryn Glodowski, Ph.D.

Professional organizations for behavior analysts and the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2020) are intended to protect vulnerable populations receiving applied behavior analysis (ABA) services and offer service providers support and accountability in upholding guidelines set to protect clients. When selecting practices in alignment with professional guidelines, behavior analysts also may want to confer with the research literature to ensure their selections are evidence-based. This symposium includes four presentations, each one showcasing a dataset related to an area of ethical need within the field. The first presentation will discuss survey results about researchers’ use of practices to obtain consent and assent from research participants. The second presentation will cover survey results regarding clinicians’ use of assessments and behavioral procedures to minimize behaviors that may cause harm. The third presentation will share results from an experiment comparing the efficacy and acceptability of using parents’ preferred or non-preferred language during behavioral skills training. The fourth presentation will consider results from a systematic review of recent literature in behavioral journals involving autistic people, comparing the use of deficit-based vs. strengths-based terminology. Amy Gravino (A.S.C.O.T Consulting, LLC) will discuss these four presentations based on her experiences and perspective.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Assent, Language Diversity, Problem Behavior, Strengths-Based Terminology
Target Audience:

The target audience includes BCBAs or BCBA-Ds providing ABA services and/or conducting ABA research. The pre-requisites include knowledge of the Code of Ethics for Behavior Analysts and the ability to make evidence-based decisions.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe various methods to obtain consent and assent from research participants, as well as the relevant items from the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (the Code). 2. Describe clinicians’ reports of using assessment and behavior-reduction procedures when minimizing behaviors causing harm, as well as the relevant items from the Code. 3. Describe the benefits of using a families’ preferred language when working with culturally and linguistically diverse families, as well as the relevant items from the Code. 4. Describe behavioral researchers’ use of deficit-based vs. strengths-based terminology in autism research, as well as the relevant items from the Code.
Diversity submission Consent and Assent Practices in Behavior Analytic Research
SARAH C. MEAD JASPERSE (Emirates College for Advanced Education), Michelle P. Kelly (Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE)), Shannon Ward (Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education operated by The New England Center for Children), Jonathan K Fernand (Florida Institute of Technology), P. Raymond Joslyn (Utah State University), Wilhelmina van Dijk (Utah State University)
Abstract: While consent and assent (when relevant) are required components of behavior analytic research activities according to the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, 2020), information about the use of assent procedures is not always included in published research (Morris et al., 2021). The purpose of the present study was to explore consent and assent processes in behavior analytic research by surveying researchers about their knowledge, practices, resources, barriers, and solutions with respect to consent and assent. The results from 123 behavior analytic researchers suggest that a variety of methods are being used to seek consent and assent, even though those processes are not always described in published literature. Additionally, discrepancies were noted between behavior analytic researchers’ responses related to consent and assent, which suggests the need for more research, training, resources, and social contingencies related to assent.
Diversity submission Clinicians' Use of Assessments and Treatment Procedures to Reduce Problem Behavior
KATHRYN GLODOWSKI (Mission Autism Clinics), Jacqueline Duchow (They Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg), Sundal Ghori (The Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg), Emma Olszewski (The Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg), Lindsay M. Knapp (Yellow Brick Academy)
Abstract: Evidence-based and ethical practice for treating problem behavior includes selecting, designing, and implementing FBAs and reinforcement-based treatment procedures informed by the results of the FBAs (BACB, 2020). A punishment component may also be needed only if socially valid outcomes have not been achieved with less intrusive procedures or if the risk of harm of the behavior outweighs the potential risk of harm of the procedure. Relatively little empirical information is available about clinicians’ process for treating problem behavior. The current project includes a survey of 252 BCBAs’ use of FBAs, treatment procedures for problem behavior, and punisher assessments if they’ve used punishment. Most respondents reported always using interviews and descriptive assessments when developing behavior-reduction plans, and almost all reported using differential reinforcement, extinction, and noncontingent reinforcement to reduce moderate or severe forms of aggression and self-injurious behavior. In addition, most respondents reported using response blocking, response interruption and redirection, response cost, and contingent demands; but few respondents reported using direct punisher assessments. A discussion about practice recommendations and future research is included.
Diversity submission An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Preferred Language Use in Parent Training
ABRIL GISELLE LOPEZ CERVANTES (Fresno State), Marianne L. Jackson (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: The Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts provides guidelines for BCBAs to follow when working with diverse populations. Ethical code 1.07, Cultural Responsiveness and Diversity, points out that behavior analysts need to gain knowledge and skills related to cultural responsiveness and diversity while assessing their own biases and capacity to address the needs of people with diverse backgrounds. Within the provision of ABA services, many systemic barriers exist for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families. These barriers include the lack of diversity in research and practitioners and the common use of English as the default language in the provision of services. The current study examined the effectiveness and acceptability of caregiver training using their preferred and less preferred language. We recruited four parent-child dyads. Parent participants identified as Hispanic or Latina females between 37 and 57 whose primary language is Spanish and secondary is English (bilingual), with children aged between 3 to 8 years diagnosed with ASD or a related IDD. The study employed an alternating treatment design to assess the effectiveness and acceptability of each condition (i.e., preferred versus less preferred language) and its related intervention (i.e., sleep and toilet training) during behavioral skills training (BST). The results suggest that the use of each parent participant’s preferred language was slightly more effective and that parents rated the preferred language intervention higher on scales of acceptability and preference. The implications of this are discussed, as are the difficulties of conducting research in this area and suggestions for future studies.
Diversity submission 

A Systematic Review of How Behavioral Researchers Talk About Autism and Implications for Ethical Practice

SUMMER BOTTINI (Marcus Autism Center, Emory School of Medicine), Hannah Morton (Oregon Health & Science University), Kelly Buchanan (Binghamton University), Kait Gould (College of St. Rose)

Autism and disability research are shifting to a strengths-based approach including acceptance of characteristic differences and recognizing differences can be socially constrained. Advocates have suggested that terminology surrounding autism may negatively impact service delivery and people on the autism spectrum. In response, advocates have published recommendations for alternative terms to use in autism research. We aimed to identify how behavioral researchers describe autism and intervention supports to determine whether current language practices are consistent with recommendations. We conducted a systematic review using PRISMA-S guidelines for articles involving autistic people in 2021, yielding 2360 articles across 242 peer-reviewed journals. We will present results from articles in behavioral journals (n = 98 articles). We specifically examined the use of traditional deficit-based language relative to recommended alternative terms. Initial findings suggest that behavioral researchers still predominantly use terms consistent with a deficit-based model as opposed to strength-based alternatives; however, this is consistent with autism discourse across other disciplines of research as well. We will discuss ethical and practical implications of such language choices and provide recommendations for behavioral researchers.




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