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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Panel #435
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission Applied Behavior Analysis Service Deserts: Addressing the Gap in Underserved and Marginalized Communities
Monday, May 30, 2022
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 252A
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Rocio Rosales, Ph.D.
Chair: Rocio Rosales (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
JESSIKA NICHOLE FEIL (Bella Vista Behavior Services)
RUTH TELLO (Familias First)

In recent years, the field has witnessed an increased interest and attention to the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in all domains of behavior analysis (i.e., basic, and applied research, service delivery). One aspect of equity and inclusion that has received minimal attention is the disparity in access to high-quality ABA services for underrepresented and marginalized communities in the U.S. A recent publication by Drahota and colleagues (2020) describe the concept of 'service deserts' and presents information for ABA practitioners to consider how they can implement and promote dissemination of ABA services to disadvantaged neighborhoods in the U.S. The purpose of this panel discussion is to highlight the work of three Latina BCBA business owners who are paving the way for service delivery in racially and ethnically diverse communities in both rural and urban cities in California and Massachusetts. The panelists will describe the disparities in ABA services that inspired them to start their respective companies (e.g., their perspective on 'service deserts'), share stories of challenges and success in delivering services to these communities, provide recommendations for current and aspiring service providers, and discuss changes to public policy that will help to advance work in this area.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

The target audience includes current BCBA practitioners, aspiring BCBAs, academics involved in graduate and undergraduate training programs in applied behavior analysis, and the ABAI leadership team. To gain the maximum benefit from this panel discussion, audience members should have a basic understanding of the complexities of ABA service provision (e.g., how services are reimbursed, how staff are hired and trained, etc.); and basic knowledge of the health disparities that are prevalent in the U.S. outside of the context of behavior analytic service delivery.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) define service deserts and describe the disparities that exist in accessing ABA services in marginalized communities in the U.S., (2) describe some of the challenges and successes experienced by the panelists in providing services to marginalized communities, and (3) identify recommendations for changes to service delivery and public policy that can help to address disparities in access to ABA services.
Keyword(s): autism, marginalized communities, service delivery, service deserts



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Modifed by Eddie Soh