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.


Third Annual Autism Conference; Jacksonville, FL; 2009

Event Details

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Invited Panel #15
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in Legislation of Behavior Analytic Autism Services: Observations and Recommendations from Professionals and Parent Advocates
Sunday, February 8, 2009
11:30 AM–12:30 PM
Grand Ballroom
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jack Scott (Florida Atlantic University)
CE Instructor: Jack Scott, Ph.D.
Panelists: MICHAEL F. DORSEY (The Vinfen Corporation and Gordon College), KIM D. GREENE (Behavior Management Consultants), MANDANA DAVANI (St. Johns Radiology Associates), ERIC PRUTSMAN (Prutsman & Associates), JUDITH URSITTI (Autism Speaks)

This panel session will focus on legislative actions at the state and federal level that are now impacting the quality and availability of behavior analytic services. As the demand for specialized autism services has increased, behavior analysts and supportive parents in several states have been successful in having dedicated language inserted into legislation so that the key role of behavior analysts and behavior analytic services was recognized. Importantly, efforts spearheaded by Autism Speaks have resulted in significant expansion of insurance coverage so as to cover autism services. New Florida legislation offers a model for the pro-ABA stance listing, for example, and lists ABA first among four specific therapies and recognizes the role of the "Board Certified Behavior Analyst" in the provision of ABA services. Such legislative actions do not happen by accident but rather as a result of skillful planning and coordination of those interested in promoting behavioral services. Other issues beyond insurance funding for ABA autism services will be discussed. The panelists will answer questions from the audience and respond to a starter question on what they see as the most important legislative development or trend in relation to ABA and autism.

MICHAEL F. DORSEY (The Vinfen Corporation and Gordon College)
Michael F. Dorsey is a licensed Psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst®. He is the Founding President of the Greater Boston Association for Behavior Analysis (now MassABA), a Visiting Professor in the Program in Behavioral Education at Endicott College and the Director of Clinical Services in the Mental Retardation Division of the Vinfen Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Dorsey earned his Ph.D. in Psychology, with a specialization in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1979. Dr. Dorsey is an authority in the area of functional analysis and the treatment of self-injurious/challenging behavior and has published in journals such as the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Education and Treatment of Children, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, among others. Dr. Dorsey is also the Editor of the Journal of Early and Intensive Behavioral Interventions. Dr. Dorsey has spent much of his professional career involved in legislative advocacy work related to Applied Behavior Analysis and Developmental Disabilities, including serving as a member of both the Massachusetts and Florida Developmental Disability Councils and as the Chair of the MDDC Legislative Affairs Committee for over 6 years. Dr. Dorsey is now a member of the ABAI Practice Board and Chair if its’ Governmental Affairs Committee.
KIM D. LUCKER (Behavior Management Consultants)
Dr. Kim D. Lucker is currently the Area Coordinator for Northeast Florida and Senior Consultant for Behavior Management Consultants, Inc., whom she has been with since 1993. Dr. Lucker is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over 16 years experience designing programs for persons with autism and other developmental disabilities. She received her graduate training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at Florida State University. Dr. Lucker has created and presented a series of workshops on teaching language and behavioral assessment intervention for the past 10 years. She has been a consultant to school districts, families, and state agencies in the U.S. and Canada since 1993, and currently heads a team of 12 therapists providing ABA services in Northeast Florida. Dr. Lucker has served as an adjunct faculty member at University of North Florida in Jacksonville. She has served as the Treasurer for the First Coast Chapter of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis for the past three years.
MANDANA DAVANI (St. Johns Radiology Associates)
Mandana Davani is the parent of a 4-year-old boy (soon to be 5) with a diagnosis of autism. She is also an advocate of mandating insurance companies to provide coverage for autism therapy, specifically ABA. In 2007, Dr. Davani was actively involved in lobbying members of the Florida legislature in passing the "Autism Bill" and had an opportunity to go to Tallahassee, FL and speak before the special subcommittee on the subject. Dr. Davani is a full time staff physician in St. Augustine, Florida with a specialty in Diagnostic Radiology. Dr. Davani received her degree in Medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina and her bachelor's degree in Science in Biology from Emory University.
ERIC PRUTSMAN (Prutsman & Associates)
Eric Prutsman, Esq., has spent over 20 years in the political arena of Florida government, and has held positions in the executive and legislative branches of state government. After earning his law degree from Florida State University in 1987, he served as Assistant General Counsel to the Florida Department of State and the Florida Elections Commission from 1987 to 1990. In December of 1990, he joined the Florida Senate as an attorney for the Committee on Commerce, where he was responsible for drafting major legislation in health care regulation, workers’ compensation, corporations, and insurance. Mr. Prutsman entered the private sector in 1994 to practice administrative and legislative law, where he continues to represent various health care, education, insurance, transportation, business, and association interests before the Florida Legislature and state agencies.
JUDITH URSITTI (Autism Speaks)
Judith Ursitti is Regional Director, State Advocacy Relations for Autism Speaks. Judith is primarily responsible for managing the relationships between Autism Speaks and the state and local governments of designated states, Autism Speaks constituents and state chapter advocacy leaders, as well as other autism organizations. Judith has over a decade of experience in tax accounting and has been heavily involved in autism advocacy since her son Jack’s diagnosis in 2005. She participated in the lobbying effort in Texas for the passage of HB 1919, appearing on various local networks to promote the bill and its mandate for autism-related insurance coverage. In addition, she is the Chapter Advocacy Chair for the Boston chapter of Autism Speaks, is a member of the Parent Advisory Council for the recently released Autism Speaks 100-day kit, and is the author of the blog Autismville which is published by Currently she is working to pass autism-related insurance legislation in Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Judith holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Georgia College and State University and is a Certified Public Accountant. She and her husband Andy live in Dover, Massachusetts and are parents to two children, Amy, age 8 and Jack, age 5, who has ASD.



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