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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #286
Don Baer Lecture: Gains and Losses on the Balance Sheet: ABA 1964–2020
Sunday, May 24, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 3, Ballroom AB
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Shahla Susan Ala'i (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Sigrid Glenn, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: SIGRID GLENN (University of North Texas)

One might say that the treatment that launched applied behavior analysis began with a commitment to help little Dicky, a 3 ½ year old boy with autism (Wolf, Risley & Mees, 1964). The treatment was an amazing story of a successful marriage of science and clinical wisdom. Now, over 50 years later, it is evident that applied behavior analysis has both expanded and shrunk. Expansion is seen in the 2018 Annual Report of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board: 35,286 professionals certified to practice behavior analysis and 51,507 technicians registered to assist them. Most of the recipients of these practices are children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities. Among the costs of taking behavior analysis to scale has been the shrinking of what it means to be an applied behavior analyst. Both science and clinical wisdom seem to have moved to the margins and other considerations have taken center stage. We will examine some of the changes that appear to have occurred, including ossification of protocols, training and supervision in decontextualized environments, and a focus on structural rather than functional approaches to treatment. We will also examine what appears to be a misunderstanding or misapplication of what constitutes evidence-based practice. Finally, we will consider contingencies at work in the current culture that may account for many of these changes; and we will offer some observations on how the field might recapture what has been lost as it continues moving forward.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: PENDING
SIGRID GLENN (University of North Texas)
Sigrid Glenn is Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of North Texas.  She was the founding chair of UNT’s Department of Behavior Analysis and the founder and former director of UNT’s Behavior Analysis Online program. Her published research includes work in conceptual, experimental and applied areas; current interests are primarily conceptual and philosophical, especially as these pertain to culturo-behavioral systems. Dr. Glenn is past president of ABAI and a founding fellow of the Association. She was the 2015 recipient of the Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis. Other awards include TxABA Award for Career Contributions to Behavior Analysis in Texas; CalABA’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Behavior Analysis; the Michael Hemingway Award for Advancement of Behavior Analysis; the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies Ellen P. Reese Award in Recognition for Significant Contributions to Communication of Behavioral Concepts; and--most important to her--the ABAI 2008 Student Committee Award for Outstanding Mentorship of students.



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