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.

  • AUT: Autism

    DDA: Developmental Disabilities

    DEV: Behavioral Development

    EAB: Experimental Analysis of Behavior

    OBM: Organizational Behavior Management

    PRA: Practice

    TBA: Teaching Behavior Analysis

    TPC: Theoretical, Philosophical, and Conceptual Issues

    VRB: Verbal Behavior

    SCI: Science

40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Program by Invited Events: Saturday, May 24, 2014

Manage My Personal Schedule


Invited Paper Session #44
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Leadership Seminar: Creating the Organizations Needed to Evolve a More Caring Society

Saturday, May 24, 2014
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
W190a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: OBM; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Anthony Biglan, Ph.D.
Chair: Heather M. McGee (Western Michigan University)
ANTHONY BIGLAN (Oregon Research Institute)
Anthony Biglan, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. He has been conducting research on the development and prevention of child and adolescent problem behavior for the past 30 years. He is a former president of the Society for Prevention Research. His work has included studies of the risk and protective factors associated with tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; high-risk sexual behavior; and antisocial behavior. He has conducted numerous experimental evaluations of interventions to prevent tobacco use both through school-based programs and communitywide interventions. And, he has evaluated interventions to prevent high-risk sexual behavior, antisocial behavior, and reading failure. In recent years, his work has shifted to more comprehensive interventions that have the potential to prevent the entire range of child and adolescent problems. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Prevention, which released its report in 2009 documenting numerous evidence-based preventive interventions that can prevent multiple problems. His recent review of preventive interventions concluded that diverse psychological, behavioral, and health problems can be prevented through the promotion of nurturing families, schools, and communities.

An emerging convergence in the human sciences can guide the evolution of more caring societies. Biological and behavioral research has produced an integrated understanding of the biological and social conditions needed to ensure the successful development of children and adolescents. A growing body of experimental evidence has identified family, school, and community interventions that are capable of nurturing development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Increasingly research is turning to how these interventions can be widely and effectively implemented. At the same time, research in economics, political science, and sociology has delineated key features of the larger social context, including especially the recent evolution of corporate capitalism, that are more distal, but nonetheless critical influences on the wellbeing of young people. This converging understanding provides a framework for intentional efforts to evolve societies that have fewer psychological and behavioral disorders, less crime, less academic failure and much higher levels of prosociality. This session will focus on how we can organize the educational, nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental organizations to evolve cultural practices that achieve a society that sees to everyone’s wellbeing.

Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, graduate students, and anyone interested in


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to (1) Describe evidence-based programs, policies, and practices that can prevent most psychological and behavioral problems; (2) Describe a framework for bringing about significant cultural change relevant to human wellbeing; and (3) Describe a strategy for organizing a movement to change the practices that affect wellbeing.  
Keyword(s): Education
Invited Paper Session #46
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Don Baer Invited Address: Outside the Box: Unique Applications of Applied Behavior Analysis

Saturday, May 24, 2014
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Judith R. Mathews, Ph.D.
Chair: Mark D. Shriver (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
JUDITH R. MATHEWS (University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Dr. Judith Mathews received her BS in special education from Syracuse University in 1971. Her original foundation in ABA came from looking for an effective way to teach deaf and blind children. In 1988, she received her Ph.D. in developmental and child psychology from the Department of Human Development and Family Living at the University of Kansas with Don Baer as her primary adviser. She worked clinically as a pediatric psychologist at the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for seven years and taught child clinical psychology at West Virginia University for three years. In 1994, she accepted a position in the Psychology Department at Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where she remained as a pediatric psychologist and associate professor of pediatrics until her retirement in October 2013. At MMI, her position combined clinical practice and research, and teaching graduate students, doctoral interns, and medical students. In 2009, she received her master’s degree in public health from the University of Nebraska, and in 2011 received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach psychology and ABA in Kenya and to conduct public health research with adolescent girls in Nairobi slums. In her retirement, she plans to continue to help establish child clinical training in Kenya.

Don Baer was a master at viewing applied behavior analysis as a philosophy of life. This was exemplified in his writings, in the manner in which he mentored students, and in his discussion of its application to varied topics, some of which were well outside the common behavioral realm of investigation. His model has guided Dr. Judith R. Mathews’ clinical practice and opened her to looking beyond the strictly behavioral literature to learn from other disciplines. This paper will discuss practical applications of applied behavior analysis in the field of pediatrics. It will present unusual clinical cases, including, problems of attachment and parenting skills, and unique challenges in medical adherence, habit reversal, pain management, and feeding disorders. More recently, this curiosity for the intersection between ABA and other disciplines has led Dr. Mathews to investigate the field of public health, in terms of social determinants of health, community-based participatory research and global public health. In this context, applications of ABA in the field of public health will then be discussed. The paper will conclude with discussion of the difficulties that practitioners and public health providers face in conducting practical research and finally will propose ways to disseminate unique ideas in need of empirical validation.

Target Audience:

ABA practitioners.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to: 1. Identify applications of applied behavior analysis to unusual clinical cases. 2. Identify applications of applied behavior analysis to public health issues. 3. Identify practical problems in clinical data collection and possible solutions. 4. Identify ways to disseminate unusual ideas in need of empirical validation.
Invited Panel #62
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Leadership Seminar: Educating Future Generations: Behavioral Education in the 21st Century
Saturday, May 24, 2014
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
W190a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: OBM/EDC; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Heather M. McGee (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Ramona Houmanfar, Ph.D.
Panelists: KEVIN GRIGSBY (Association of American Medical Colleges), KENT JOHNSON (Morningside Academy)

The quality of education is critical to producing knowledgeable citizens able to adapt to a changing world. Students’ education and cultural influences set the stage for their future professions, and as leaders or educators in an increasingly interconnected global community. By drawing upon their pioneering work in the area of education, panelists will provide comments regarding this theme of the Seminar on Leadership and Cultural Change. The seminar is designed to aid educational leaders to create new models of stewardship and open opportunities for innovation while adjusting to growing social upheaval, technological advances, and environmental concerns, as well as crises in the global economy, health, education, and environment. It will address how behavior analysis finds common ground with other sciences by investigating the behavior of leaders who influence organizations and society.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, graduate students, and anyone interested in creating new models of education through behavior analysis.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Describe the status of contemporary education practices and consider the impact behavior analysis has had on the education system; (2) Identify projects that depict effective instruction producing exemplary outcomes; (3) Describe pathways to follow that advance evidence-based instructional technologies and the contributions offered by behavior analysis; and (4) Identify themes in society and culture at large that influence leaders of behavior analysis to apply our science to education.  
KEVIN GRIGSBY (Association of American Medical Colleges)

R. Kevin Grigsby, MSW, DSW, is senior director of leadership and talent development at the Association of American Medical Colleges. He served as vice dean for faculty and administrative affairs from 2000–09 at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, where he continues to hold an academic appointment as clinical professor of psychiatry. Dr. Grigsby’s clinical experience includes a history of program planning, implementation, and evaluation in the area of innovative home- and community-based health and mental health services. His clinical practice experience has been primarily in underserved rural and inner city areas and includes perinatal intervention with substance-abusing women, mental-health service delivery to children and adolescents in shelter care, provision of home-based services to parents and children with HIV-related illnesses, and the use of advanced telecommunications technology in health services delivery. During the past decade, the focus of Dr. Grigsby’s work shifted to organizational development in academic health centers including developing a future-oriented perspective in academic leaders and the alignment of resources with missions. Dr. Grigsby remains active in promoting effective interpersonal communication within academic health centers and in implementing alternative conflict resolution/management strategies at the department and institutional levels. The use of teams and other nontraditional organizational models in higher education settings is another area of scholarship. As an expert on the use of teams in academic health centers, Dr. Grigsby has presented at regional and national conferences and has consulted with a number of academic health centers and professional organizations. He and his colleagues published an account of the use of teams to unify the clinical, academic, and research enterprises in an academic health center. This approach was instrumental in breaking down barriers that typically separate academic departments and resulted in reducing traditional barriers between employees and management, promoting faculty and staff participation in decision-making processes, and solving organizational problems that seemed to be intractable in the past. At the AAMC, he and his team offer programs to improve organizational and leadership performance at medical schools and academic medical centers, address the needs of women and underrepresented minorities at academic medical centers, and link individual professional development to improved organizational performance.


KENT JOHNSON (Morningside Academy)
Dr. Kent Johnson founded Morningside Academy, in Seattle, WA, in 1980, and currently serves as its executive director. Morningside is a laboratory school for typical children and youth, investigates effective curricula and teaching methods, and has provided training and consulting to more than 125 schools throughout the world. Dr. Johnson’s many publications about research-based curriculum and teaching methods include The Morningside Model of Generative Instruction, and Response to Intervention and Precision Teaching with Dr. Elizabeth Street. More than 40,000 students and more than 1,000 teachers have implemented Morningside’s Generative Instruction. Dr. Johnson is also a co-founder of Headsprout, Inc., now Mimio, a company that develops web-based, interactive, cartoon-driven instructional programs, including Mimiosprout Early Reading and MimioReading Comprehension Suite. Dr. Johnson is recipient of the Award for Public Service in Behavior Analysis from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, the Anderson Award for Exemplary Contributions to Behavioral Education from the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, the Award for Excellence in Evidence-based Education from the Wing Institute, the Allyn and Bacon Exemplary Program Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Lindsley Lifetime Achievement Award in Precision Teaching from the Standard Celeration Society.
Keyword(s): Leadership Seminar
Invited Symposium #70
CE Offered: BACB
Autism in Infancy: Behavioral Systems Conceptualization and Practical Considerations
Saturday, May 24, 2014
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
W180 (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DEV/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Erik A. Mayville (Connecticut Center for Child Development)
Discussant: Linda A. LeBlanc (Trumpet Behavioral Health)
CE Instructor: Erik A. Mayville, Ph.D.

Intervention based in applied behavior analysis is widely recognized as a standard approach for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Following from research findings that intervention effects are more robust with younger children, the current best practice position is to provide intervention as soon as an ASD diagnosis can be made, and perhaps even earlier at the first reliable signs of characteristic deficits and excesses. Given that emerging technologies are aimed at identification of the disorder in infancy, the behavior analyst working with children with autism is likely to be faced with requests to work with infant children, a population that most behavior analysts are likely unfamiliar with. This symposium will address the following primary questions facing the practitioner considering working with infants and their caregivers: What is the current status of the evidence supporting early identification ASD-related deficits? How should the behavior analyst view the process of infant development, a concept most commonly described within other fields? What behavior analytic interventions have been investigated for this population, and for which infant and caregiver behaviors? And finally, what are some key ethical issues facing the behavior analyst working with infants and caregivers?

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Autism, Development, Infant
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts working with young children, particularly those identified with or suspected of meeting criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to (1) Discuss the evidence supporting early identification of ASD-related deficits, including the earliest age that a “medical diagnosis” can be given; (2) Describe at least two behavior analytic interventions which have been investigated for infants and caregiver behavior; and (3) Describe at least two ethical issues facing the behavior analyst working with infants and their caregivers.

An Overview of Established and Emerging Methods of Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder

ERIK A. MAYVILLE (Connecticut Center for Child Development)

Behavioral intervention initiated early in childhood is associated with positive outcomes in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As such, early identification of ASD-related behavioral deficits and excesses is viewed as central to achieving the best long-term intervention outcome, with the goal for treatment professionals being to intervene from the moment a diagnosis is confirmed. Current validated diagnostic procedures are based in observation of behavior and do not allow for diagnosis any earlier than 18 months of age. However, behavioral deficits indicative of high-risk status for ASD can be identified at 12 months of age, and technologies utilizing potential biomarkers in infants younger than 12 months are emerging. Therefore, ABA practitioners are likely to face demands to work with infant populations in the future. This presentation will provide a review of established and emerging technologies for identifying behavioral characteristics and biological associations of ASD, with a critical review of methods of identification for children younger than 12 months.

Erik Mayville is the clinical director of the Institute for Educational Planning, subsidiary agency of the Connecticut Center for Child Development. He has a B.A. in psychology from the University of Nevada; a M.A. in applied behavior analysis from the University of the Pacific; and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a developmental disabilities emphasis from Louisiana State University. He completed his predoctoral internship in applied behavior analysis and developmental disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Mayville has co-authored more than 20 refereed articles and book chapters on various topics relevant to people with autism and developmental disabilities, including curriculum content in ABA, problematic behavior, social skills, psychiatric disorders, and psychotropic medication. He has served on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed journals, including Behavior Analysis in Practice and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and he is co-editor of the book Behavioral Foundations of Effective Autism Treatment. He also has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. Dr. Mayville’s practice focuses on psychological evaluation, intervention consultation, and educational program evaluation for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.

Infant Development as the Behavior Analyst Views It

GARY D. NOVAK (California State University Stanislaus)

Previously defined by DSM IV-R as a "developmental disorder," DSM 5 now categorizes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a "Neurodevelopmental Disorder." Although evidence of specific neurological dysfunction is lacking, the developmental basis for behavioral development in autism is not. Behavioral Systems Theory provides a framework for understanding the development, prevention, and treatment of the constellations of behaviors that characterize ASD and explains how multiple factors, including neurological, historical, and current environmental ones lead to the emergence of patterns seen in individuals. This paper will outline the basic principles of development ininfancy as viewed from a behavior analytical perspective. It will focus on processes that produce typical development as well as the acquisition of the behavioral excesses and deficits characteristic of ASD. Among the key developmental concepts involved in understanding typical and atypical are skills learning, "hidden" skills and deficits, and behavioral cusps. Some of the crucial early hidden skills and deficits in infant development will be identified and the implications for early intensive behavioral intervention discussed.

Gary Novak is professor emeritus of psychology and child development at California University, Stanislaus. He has a B.A. in psychology from Rutgers University, a M.A. in psychology from Temple University, and earned his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Novak was founding dean of the College of Human and Health Sciences at CSU, Stanislaus, where he taught for more than 35 years. He was twice Psychology Department chair, founded the campus Child Development Center, and received the university’s Outstanding Professor Award. His publications include two books on a behavioral approach to child and adolescent development: Developmental Psychology: Dynamical Systems and Behavior Analysis (also published in Italian as Psicologia Dello Sviluppo: Sistemi Dinamici e  Analisi Comportamentale) and Child and Adolescent Development: A Behavioral Systems Approach. Retired and living in California wine country, Dr. Novak continues to publish and lecture on behavioral development. His most recent publications have focused on hidden skills in the development of autism.  

Intervention for Developmental Delays in Infancy

MARTHA PELAEZ (Florida International University)

In the U.S. alone, more than 1 million children are on record as having some form of autism or learning disability. This number continues to increase. Researchers have begun to recognize the enormous value of behavior analysis and early interventions in encouraging children to focus attention and shaping their early social behavior. Dr. Pelaez will present interventions with infants "at risk" of later developmental delays using specific forms of social reinforces like synchronized touch and cooing that increase infant's eye contact and gaze at mother's face. Infant massage provides the occasion for synchronized mother-infant interactions that include many of the social reinforcers outlined in this presentation. She will explain a procedure where a caregiver's vocal imitation and motherese speech increases infant vocalizations, smiles, and directs infant attention. In older infants, maternal social contingencies in the form of gestural expressions can work as signals (Sds) for the infant on when and how to respond toward an ambiguous object in the context of uncertainty--a phenomenon known as social referencing. In summary, these techniques developed for early interventions with infants have shown to be effective in improving their social behavior and explain early social learning phenomena as attachment, joint attention, and social referencing.

Martha Pelaez is the Frost Professor at Florida International University. Her research is in the areas of mother-infant interactions and infant social learning processes. She has developed intervention protocols for infants at risk of developmental delays published in her book with G. Novak, Child and Adolescent Development: A Behavioral Systems Approach, in a chapter in Rehfeldt & Barnes-Holmes (2009), and in Mayville & Mulick (2011, Eds.), on effective autism treatment. Her theoretical and experimental contributions include a recently revised taxonomy of rules and rule-governed behavior (Pelaez, in press European Journal of Behavior Analysis); a behavior-analytic approach to moral development (Pelaez & Gewirtz, 1995) and the relation between derived relational responding and intelligence (with D. O'Hora & D. Barnes-Holmes, 2005). Dr. Pelaez has published more than 80 refereed articles in mainstream journals including the American Psychologist, the Journal of Child Development, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and Infant Behavior and Development Journal. She has served as program chair for the American Psychological Association Division 25 and past program co-chair for the Association for Behavior Analysis International. She is the founding editor (1990) of the Behavior Development Bulletin and has served on editorial boards including The Behavior Analyst. She was awarded fellowship status by the American Psychological Association (APA) and is a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavior Studies. Dr. Pelaez also served as a member of the Florida Board of Governors.  

Ethical Issues in Autism Intervention with Infants

SUZANNE LETSO (Connecticut Center for Child Development)

Applied behavior analysis has been demonstrated to be the most effective intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Following recommendations for intervention for ASD as early as possible, means of identifying infants at risk for ASD are emerging. For example, researchers have determined that younger siblings of children with ASD are at a much higher risk of developing the disorder than the general population. Additionally, biologically based tests purported to identify infants at risk for developing ASD are becoming commercially available. As a result, behavior analysts working in the field of ASD education and treatment can anticipate an increase in requests for ABA interventions for infants. This presentation will outline some of the practical and ethical issues behavior analysts must address in providing services to at-risk infants and very young children. Topics include the competencies of the behavior analyst working with infants, working within the bounds of evidence-based practice, and the potentially multifaceted role the practitioner may need to serve for caregivers through the child's infancy and into early childhood.

Suzanne Letso is the co-founder and CEO of the Connecticut Center for Child Development. Mrs. Letso currently serves as treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, on the Scientific Advisory Council, a member for the Organization for Autism Research, Association for Professional Behavior Analysts’ advisory board, and is vice chair of the board of directors for Marrakech, Inc. She also has participated in the establishment of a number of other service organizations and autism-related initiatives. Mrs. Letso holds a B.A. in elementary education from Southern Connecticut State University, a M.A. in leadership from Duquesne University, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Before her work related to behavior analysis, Mrs. Letso worked as a marketing executive for international medical product manufacturers, where she was involved in new product, business, and venture capital start-up initiatives. In addition, she has been involved in organizational assessment and development of for-profit enterprises in other fields. Mrs. Letso is a registered lobbyist for the Connecticut General Assembly and has worked as an advocate on a number of legislative issues within the state of Connecticut including sustainment of funding for those served by the Department of Developmental Services, autism insurance legislation, continuation of public school funding for people with disabilities through their 21st school year, and recognition of Board Certified Behavior Analysts.



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