Community Event: Applied Behavior Analysis: Intervention of Choice for Autism Spectrum Disorder


Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 1:30pm to 3:00pm


Judge Baker Children's Center, 53 Parker Hill Avenue, Boston (limited free parking available)

2013-2014 Judge Baker Children's Center Child Mental Health Forum

Applied Behavior Analysis: Intervention of Choice for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Richard B. Graff, PhD, BCBA, Clinical Director, New England Center for Children

Dr. Graff will discuss the meaning, the importance and the implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA). This is a crucial topic in child and adolescent mental health, as ABA is one of the few interventions proven to be effective for children for autism. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a rapidly expanding field in the treatment and education of children and adolescents with intellectual disability and autism, and in those with psychiatric disorders as well. What is ABA? How is it different, in its scientific base, training and discipline, from traditional mental health disciplines such as psychology and psychiatry and their approaches?

There are many interventions touted as being effective for individuals for autism. Most have little to no empirical support proving their effectiveness. However, one approach, applied behavior analysis (ABA), has been shown to produce positive results for individuals with autism. Because hundreds of studies showing the effectiveness of ABA have been published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, not only has applied behavior analysis become accepted as an effective intervention for autism (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001; National Institute of Mental Health, 2008), but it is considered by many to be “best practice” in autism treatment. This presentation will review what applied behavior analysis is, how Board Certified Behavior Analysts® are trained, and why behavior analysis is a scientific discipline distinct from psychology. Then, the presentation will review several strategies that behavior analysts employ that makes their interventions effective, including the use of single-subject research designs, repeatedly and objectively measuring behavior over time, the systematic identification and experimental evaluation of the efficacy of reinforcers, the use of systematic teaching procedures that have been empirically validated to be effective, and the functional (experimental) analysis of variables that maintain problem behavior.

Target Audience: Physicians (psychiatrists, pediatricians, child neurologists), psychologists, social workers, other mental health clinicians and researchers, and students and trainees. Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to (1) recognize how the transnational realities of unaccompanied minors who are seeking asylum impact on their mental health; (2) recognize both challenges and resources associated with the acculturation process.