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).

Event 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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Invited Panel #19
Neurodiversity and Applied Behavior Analysis: A Conversation
Monday, March 7, 2022
10:30 AM–11:20 AM
Fourth Floor; Grand Ballroom 1/2
Area: AUT; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: Robert Ross, Ph.D.
Panelists: AMY GRAVINO (A.S.C.O.T Consulting), ROBERT ROSS (Beacon ABA Services)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been empirically validated and clinically implemented for Autistic individuals/individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for more than 50 years. Concerns have been raised about ABA and related intervention methods as used with Autistic individuals since the field's inception, but these concerns have not historically been adequately addressed. These concerns are related to specific practices and the possible harm that they may cause, as well as the larger cultural ableism that informs the field as a whole. In this conversation, we will begin a discussion on neurodiversity and ABA that is long overdue. The panelists will model a dialogue that behavior analysts can have with Autistic individuals regarding these issues, emphasize the importance of active listening and joint attention, and lay the groundwork for future ongoing conversations in this area.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students. 

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify three ways that behavior analysts can include Autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD to help improve behavioral intervention; (2) identify three ways that behavior analysts can appropriately respond to criticisms of ABA/behavioral intervention when working with Autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD and their families; (3) identify three ways that behavior analysts can appropriately respond to criticisms of ABA/behavioral intervention in public forums (e.g., social media).
AMY GRAVINO (A.S.C.O.T Consulting)
Amy Gravino, M.A., is an autism sexuality advocate and Relationship Coach in the Center for Adult Autism Services at Rutgers University. She is also the President of A.S.C.O.T Consulting, which offers autism consulting, college coaching, and mentoring services for organizations, schools, individuals on the autism spectrum, and their families. Amy is an international speaker who has given TED talks, spoken twice at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day, and presented worldwide to audiences on a variety of topics related to autism, with a dedicated special focus and research on the subject of autism and sexuality. Ms. Gravino obtained her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Caldwell University in 2010 and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Specialisterne USA, Yes She Can, Inc. and the Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board of Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK). She is an award-winning writer whose work has been featured in Spectrum, the leading online news source for autism research, Reader’s Digest, special education textbooks, and other outlets. Visit to learn more.
ROBERT ROSS (Beacon ABA Services)

Dr. Ross is the Chief Clinical Officer at Beacon ABA Services of Massachusetts and Connecticut where he has worked for over 20 years. He received his Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University and his Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.  Dr. Ross provides oversight to all clinical, research and training activity at Beacon ABA Services, he has been providing direct and consultation services to families, schools and educational programs and clinicians throughout the U.S., Canada, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for over 30 years. He is a founding member and current President of the Massachusetts Association for Applied Behavior Analysis.  Dr.  Ross is also the ABAI Special Interest Group Chair and Past President of the Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) of ABAI, has served three terms on the ABAI Practice Board and is on the editorial board of Exceptional Parent magazine.  He has written numerous articles on a range of topics in ABA based ASD treatment and a book chapter on Matrix Training in the Handbook of Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. Ross is currently focusing his efforts on expanding access to quality ABA treatment internationally.




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