applied behavior analysis (ABA), and is intended to serve as a resource for uploads/2017/01/170113-BCBA-BCaBA-task-list-5th-ed-english.pdf.
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2This white paper was approved by the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Behavior Analyts (APBA) on July 25, 2016 and updated in May 2017. It represents the position of APBA, a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote and advance the science-based practice of applied behavior analysis (ABA), and is intended to serve as a resource for those with an interest in that practice. Electronic and/or hard copies may be made for personal, educational, or policymaking purposes, but not for commercial use. All copies must include this notice on the first page. Any other use or distribution requires advance written permission from APBA; requests should be sent to or APBA, 3443 Camino del Rio South, Suite #210, San Diego, CA 92108. Copyright © 2017 by the Association of Professional BehaviorAnalysts, all rights reservedProfessional Behavior AnalystsAssociation of

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3Executive Summary–––––––––––––––––––4 Underlying Scientific Concepts and Methods–––––––––6 Origins of Applied Behavior Analysis–––––––––––––12 Defining Features of ABA––––––––––––––––––16 Professional Practice of ABA––––––––––––––––.17Summary––––––––––––––––––––.––––..21 References–––––––––––––––––––––––23 Table of Contents

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4Demand for applied behavior analysis (ABA) services has accelerated rapidly since the early 1990s. Although it is only one of many areas of application, much of the increase has been in the realm of interventions for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Families of people with ASD have played a major role in advocating for public policies to increase the availability of Œ and funding for ŒABA services. Those efforts have produced many benefits; however, the increased demand and funding have also spawned widespread confusion, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations regarding behavior analysis, its applications, and qualifications for practicing ABA professionally. This white paper aims to dispel some of the most common misconceptions aboutbehavior analysis and to help consumers, members of various professions, funders, and policymakers differentiate ABA interventions from others. It presents key facts about the defining features of the discipline with supporting documentation: †Behavior analysis is a natural science with concepts, research methods, and principles (natural laws of behavior) that distinguish it from thesocial sciences.†The applied branch of the discipline Œ ABA Œ originated as a blend of the experimental analysis of behavior and information about humandevelopment. From the beginning, ABA incorporated naturalistic as wellas structured intervention techniques implented in a variety of everydaysettings.†Abundant scientific research documents the effectiveness of a large array of ABA procedures for building useful skills and reducing problem behaviors in people with and without specific diagnoses.Executive Summary 1 The term fiinterventionfl is used throughout the paper to mean any procedures that are designed to change behavior. In some contexts (such as healthcare), fitreatmentfl is often used in place of fiintervention.fl continued on next page

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5† The features of ABA interventions have been defined since 1968. † The practice of ABA is a profession. Well-established, accredited credentialing programs for practitioners of ABA are managed by the nonprofit Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). Results of extensive job analysis studies conducted by the BACB over the past 15+ years, together with case law and best practices in professional credentialing, have served as the basis for the competencies, degrees, coursework, supervised experience, and professional examinations required to obtain BACB credentials. The requirements parallel those of many other professions. The BACB credentials are recognized in many laws and regulations as qualifications for practicing ABA. † Genuine ABA interventions have all the defining features of ABA and are designed and overseen by appropriately credentialed professionals. Executive Summary continued

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6Behavior analysis is a natural science of behavior first developed by B.F. Skinner and colleagues starting in the 1930s (Skinner, 1938, 1945, 1953; also see Morris, Altus, & Smith, 2013). Skinner™s conceptual model focuses on how behaviors (anything done by living organisms) affect and are affected by environmental events that precede and follow them closely in time (termed antecedents and consequences, respectively). Skinner and other behavior analysts developed research methods that are uniquely suited for studying behavior, which occurs only at the level of the individual and involves continuous interactions between actions and various aspects of the environment. In general, those methods involve selecting one or a few observable behavior(s), measuring occurrences of the behavior(s) directly and repeatedly in the presence and absence of specific environmental events that may affect the behavior(s), graphing the resulting data, and analyzing the graphed data visually to determine if behavior changed and if that change was due to the environmental events (Johnston & Pennypacker, 2009; Sidman, 1960). Behavior analytic researchers employ the methods of the basic science Œ the experimental analysis of behavior Œ to address specific research questions inexperiments that are replicated (repeated) with multiple individual participants. (TheJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior was founded in 1958 as an outlet for publishing findings of that new and unique science. It continues to be the discipline™s flagship basic research journal). Data aggregated across many experiments with many different participants are used to infer the existence of functional (causal) relationsbetween environmental variables and behavior. Figure 1 presents one example of the application of these distinctive research methods. Underlying Scientific Concepts and Methodscontinued on next page

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8Underlying Scientific Concepts and Methods continuedPrinciples of Behavior Analysis Because many interventions are now said to be based on the principles of behavior analysis, it is essential to understand that in this science, fiprinciplesfl does not have the everyday meaning of doctrines, beliefs, values, or rules that govern one™s actions. Instead it refers to natural laws of behavior, or facts about how behavior works Œ like the natural laws of physics, biology, and other natural sciences. Behavior analytic principles describe causal relations between behavior and environmental variables that have been shown to hold across many individual organisms, species, settings, and behaviors. The principles of behavior analysis are relatively few in number, but countless studies have shown that each principle has multiple elements. For example, one principle is reinforcement: If occurrences of a behavior are followed closely in time by an environmental event (consequence) with the result that the behavior is strengthened (occurs more frequently) over time, reinforcement has occurred. Hundreds of experiments have shown that the way this principle operates is influenced by the timing, frequency, nature, and quantity of the consequences as well as characteristics of the particular behavior involved, the contexts in which the behavior occurs, and the consequences available for competing behaviors (see Figure 2). continued on next page

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10Underlying Scientific Concepts and Methods continuedProcedures Myriad different procedures for changing behavior can be derived from each principle, but procedures and principles are not the same. Procedures are actions taken by an interventionist to arrange environmental events in order to see if those events influence a particular behavior, or to try to change the behavior. For instance, based on an understanding of the principle of reinforcement, an interventionist might present a particular consequence (e.g., a spoken word of praise, a preferred object) to a client following occurrences of a behavior that is to be strengthened (e.g., the client orienting his head and shoulders towards a person who is speaking). The interventionist would also need to understand the corollaries of the principle of reinforcement and other principles of behavior analysis (e.g., stimulus control, extinction) as well as facts about the behavior and the client in order to select the consequence and decide exactly when it is to be delivered relative to each occurrence of the behavior, after how many occurrences, and other details of the procedures. All of the other principles of behavior analysis also have multiple elements, many potential applications, and large bodies of underlying research.Some things that are often described as ABA principles are actually procedures. Examples include breaking skills into small components or steps (sometimes called fitask analysisfl or incorrectly, fidiscrete trial trainingfl); delivering praise after a desired behavior occurs (which may or may not result in reinforcement); and presenting a series of trials or learning opportunities that each consist of an antecedent (cue, instruction, prompt), an opportunity to respond, and depending on the response, a consequence. continued on next page

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11Underlying Scientific Concepts and Methods continuedIn everyday practice, most ABA interventions involve procedures derived from more than one principle, and address multiple behaviors that occur in many different situations (see Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2014; Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007; Ivy & Schreck, 2016). It follows that substantial training and competence in the principles and procedures are required to practice ABA professionally Πthat is, to design, deliver, train others to deliver, oversee, and revise ABA interventions (more on this later). Behavior analysis is a natural science with concepts, research methods, principles (natural laws), and procedures that differ from the social sciences.

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