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.


16th Annual Autism Conference; Seattle, WA; 2022

All times listed are Pacific Standard Time (UTC -8 at the time of the convention in March).

Workshop Details

The terminology utilized in the presentation titles and abstracts for this conference was selected to adhere to the seventh edition of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual and to be inclusive of those who prefer person-first as well as identity-first language.

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Workshop #W2
The Future of Applied Behavior Analysis and Improved Quality of Life for Adult Autistics/Individuals Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Saturday, March 5, 2022
2:00 PM–5:00 PM
Fourth Floor; Grand Ballroom 1/2
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D.
Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., is the Executive Director of the EPIC School in Paramus, NJ. Dr. Gerhardt has over 40 years of experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings. He is the author or co-author on a number of articles and book chapters on the needs of adolescents and adults with ASD and has presented nationally and internationally on this topic. Dr. Gerhardt serves as Co-Chairman of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research and is on numerous professional advisory boards including the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He currently serves as adjunct faculty in the Institute for Behavioral Studies at Endicott College. Dr. Gerhardt received his doctorate from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Graduate School of Education.
Description: Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has a long history of both research and practice in the effective intervention in support of Autistics/individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But the effectiveness alone is, apparently, insufficient to develop the skills and abilities necessary for a positive and enjoyable adult quality of life. Among the possible explanations are the reliance on: (1) instruction provided outside the natural context of the instructional target; (2) a set of professional contingencies that negatively reinforce our behavior contingent on the absence of challenging behavior rather than contingencies were we are positively reinforced for relevant skill acquisition; (3) an overly simplistic interpretation of social validity and its central importance to determining how and what we teach; and (4) a tendency to view Autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD as a collection of behaviors in need of change rather than a whole person who may, in fact, not need or want to be changed. This presentation will provide a more detailed discussion of these, and other, challenges behavior analysts must overcome if our current repertoire of effective intervention is to result in behavior change that improves the quality of life of adult Autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to: (1) discuss the complexity associated with measuring outcomes in ASD and the external factors (e.g., SES) that may have an outsized impact; (2) discuss why the selection of relevant instructional targets is as important as the research base behind the instructional interventions used; (3) identify the difference between applied skills and functional skills; (4) discuss a minimum of five ways we, as behavior analysts, need to change our behavior if better adult outcomes are to be realized.
Activities: PENDING
Audience: Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Intermediate



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