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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Panel #421
CE Offered: BACB — 
Diversity submission Assent and Cultural Sensitivity Walk Into a Bar…: An Examination of the Latest Ethical Dilemma Faced by Behavior Analysts
Monday, May 27, 2024
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 103 C
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Myra Jade Lui, Ph.D.
Chair: Myra Jade Lui (POPARD)
MERRILL WINSTON (Winston Behavioral Solutions, Inc.)
JANE PAUL (Excella Developmental Services)
MADHURA DESHPANDE (Endicott College)

The most recent edition of the Ethical Code for Behavior Analysts introduces the term ‘assent’ under 2.11 (Obtaining Informed Consent), stating that behavior analysts are ‘responsible for obtaining assent from clients when applicable’. The glossary provided defines assent as ‘Vocal or non-vocal verbal behavior that can be taken to indicate willingness to participate in… behavioral services by individuals who cannot provide informed consent’. The same Ethical Code requires that behaviour analysts be culturally sensitive and responsive to diversity (1.07). Such sensitivities include working cohesively with culturally-specific parenting values, practices, expectations, and from which the notion of ‘assent’ may be absent in many parenting decisions. Consequently, practicing behavior analysts today find themselves navigating the tension between these potentially conflicting ethical guidelines, whilst also trying to provide effective treatment to populations that often present with significant challenges and resistance to learning. The panelists in this event will explore and explain these tensions, and respond to audience questions about how they navigate them with anecdotes from their own professional practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Participants should have already obtained BCBA certification and have independent experience practicing while upholding the Ethical Code of Conduct. This panel is targeted to behaviour analysts who have already developed strong ethical practice skills but who are seeking further development with the changing guidelines.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Understand and define the concept of 'assent' in behavioral intervention and how it effects recommended practices 2) Identify the differences in values across different cultural populations and how these effect recommended practices 3) Analyze the conflicts that may arise between 1 & 2, and have some reasonable solutions to ensure these conflicts do not act as a barrier to ethical service delivery.
Keyword(s): Assent, Autism, Cultural Sensitivity, Ethics



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Modifed by Eddie Soh