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 #488
CE Offered: BACB
The Right to Effective Treatment in a Neurodiverse World: Accessing Autism Instructional Practices
Monday, May 27, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 A
Area: AUT/PCH; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Kathleen McCabe-Odri, Ed.D.
Chair: Kathleen McCabe-Odri (Partners In Learning, Inc.)
ROBERT K. ROSS (Ross Consultation LLC)

In 1988, Van Houten’s seminal publication regarding the right to access effective behavior intervention addressed the challenges, misunderstandings, and the ethical concerns of the times about behavioral methods, which, in turn, often delayed or limited access to effective instructional interventions. A decade later in 1998, both Singer and Blume began using the term “Neurodiversity”, advancing the ethical practice of person-centered services and the consideration of the array of neurological differences as an integral component of individualized instruction. Today, Neurodiverse advocates are strongly critical of the perception that intervention for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) based upon the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) is predicated on the notion that Autism is a disease and application of ABA based treatment is an effort to “cure” this condition. It is not unreasonable to suggest that many ABA professionals also share this faulty notion. Until we as a field are able to clearly reject this “curative” therapy model and embrace a right to effective instructional practices model, we will continue to be at odds with these advocates. It is not wrong for a person with ASD to suggest that some of our practices appear at best coercive and at worst barbaric. Many programs appear “cookie cutter” in nature rather than individualized. We have much work to do to improve how we intervene and under what conditions these interventions take place. However, the recognition of the need to reject a “one size fits all” approach to intervention, is not synonymous with a rejection of all that ABA has to offer. This talk will amplify the nuanced phrase “the behavior under what conditions” as part of a process for having difficult conversations regarding interventions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

BCBAs in clinical, educational and/or home settings. Prerequisite competencies include experience with client centered treatment, parent training, supervision on RBTs and BCBA candidates, as well as conceptual understanding of ABA interventions as an instructional vs curative model.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the panel discussion: 1) Participants will be able to define the differences between curative therapy and educational interventions. 2) Participants will be able to describe the arguments for and against interventions to treat eye contact, stimulatory behavior and the use of extinction as a procedure. 3) Participants will be able to explain crtiques  of our field and our science.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh