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

Workshop Details

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Workshop #W19
CE Offered: BACB — 
Challenging the Goal of "Indistinguishability": Ethical and Social Considerations in Applied Behavior Analysis
Thursday, May 23, 2024
4:00 PM–7:00 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 6
Area: PCH/AUT; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Shannon Shea, Ph.D.
SHANNON SHEA (Keiser University), JOSEPH VENEZIANO (NuPath, Inc./University of Massachusetts Lowell)
Description: In this dynamic workshop, we dissect the ethical core of ABA, spotlighting the contentious aim of indistinguishability for Autistic clients. We walk you through the comprehensive, peer-reviewed insights of Veneziano and Shea to challenge historical ABA practices, including the now-discredited Lovaas and Rekers study. A pivotal hour zeroes in on "pink" and red flags in ethics and social validity, sharpening clinicians acumen in behavior assessment and intervention choices. This segment is a clinician's compass for ethical quandaries, ensuring behavior change targets and interventions are ethically sound and uphold individual dignity. Join us for a transformative session that fortifies your practice with integrity and aligns with the stringent ethical, legal, and regulatory standards of today's ABA landscape.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Critique the historical application "indistinguishability" in ABA and articulate the ethical ramifications of such practices, including those highlighted in the Lovaas and Rekers study. (2) Identify and differentiate between pink and red flags in ethical practice during the assessment and intervention planning phases, using established criteria from current ABA ethical guidelines. (3) Formulate strategies to incorporate feedback from the Autistic self-advocate community into their practice to enhance social validity and ethical compliance of ABA interventions.
Activities: Lecture: The core content of the workshop will be delivered through an in-depth lecture, providing a historical and ethical perspective on ABA practices. Extended Group Discussion: Following the lecture, participants will partake in facilitated discussions to reflect on the content, allowing for deeper understanding and clarification of complex topics. Case Study Analysis: In small group breakouts, attendees will apply ethical pink and & red flag criteria to analyze case studies, promoting the practical application of theoretical knowledge. Targeted Reading: Participants will be provided with supplemental materials for targeted reading, which will support the identification of language and learning barriers and enhance the integration of social validity into practice. Wrap-Up and Q&A: The workshop will conclude with a session dedicated to summarizing the key points, addressing any remaining questions, and discussing the implementation of ethical practices in professional settings.
Audience: This workshop is designed for ABA practitioners at all stages of their careers, from those newly entering the field to seasoned professionals. It serves as a platform for learning and discussing the ethical considerations in ABA practice, with a focus on addressing and understanding criticisms of ABA as inherently “abusive”. Attendees will benefit from a curriculum that fosters critical thinking and ethical decision-making in response to such critiques. The content is structured to support practitioners in articulating informed responses to concerns about ABA and in enhancing their practice with a strong ethical foundation. There are no prerequisites for this workshop other than a basic familiarity with ABA principles, making it accessible to a broad range of professionals within the field.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Coercion, Ethical Considerations, Indistinguishability, Social Validity



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