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Tremendous staff shortages, alongside limited time and resources, can create prolonged stress and burnout. Occupational wellness skills involve balancing work productivity and self-care to promote health, personal satisfaction, and work satisfaction. Occupational wellness skills are imperative to combat burnout in the current workplace climate. In this session, we will discuss what we know from the research about burnout and outline some of the core skills every human care professional needs to survive and thrive.

Increased emphasis on client assent refocuses the importance of naturalistic developmental behavioral intervention (NDBI) to improve the value of social stimuli and shape indicating responses. Defining, measuring, and shaping indicating responses (e.g., eye gaze, approach, gesture, vocalization) to identify” likes”/“dislikes” provides opportunities to honor The Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts and shape agency in children with autism. Noticing indicating responses provides opportunities to teach functional and formal communication to make choices, indicate assent, and calmly and clearly indicate assent withdrawal. Improving the frequency and variety of Indicating responses is also correlated with improved language outcomes (Topping, et al. 2013), learner cooperation (Shillingsburg, Bowen & Shapiro, 2014; Shillingsburg, Hansen & Wright, 2019), and has been correlated with social behavioral cusps and better learner outcomes (Harms & Greer, 2020). Instruction can be challenging when confronted with individuals with limited attending to others and restricted reinforcer pools. A view of early social, play, and communicative milestones through developmental and behavioral lenses allows the operationalization of methods to create play chains via four different categories of play. Pausing or adding novelty to the play chains provides opportunities to reinforce and shape early non-verbal communication, promote attending and responding to instructor social stimuli, condition ongoing social interaction as a reinforcer, and shape verbal behavior. This workshop, informed by the literature from speech-language pathology and applied behavior analysis, will provide methods to topographically define and measure indicating responses through three initial phases of intervention. Participants will learn to create social behavioral play chains that can be used to increase rate, variety, and sequences of indicating responses. Methods to reframe and refocus the use of toys/activities in novel ways to inspire staff and improve cooperation and rate of learning in clients will be presented via video and modeling. Special emphasis will be placed on improving and expanding variety of reinforcers in children with limited or atypical Motivating Operations. Data will be used as a guide to increase response effort and shape verbal vocal behavior. Participants will leave with a set of clear procedures and manualized information to systematically train staff to create/contrive highly motivating play chains that can serve as a foundation for development of social skills and can be used to address learner specific goals and targets across the verbal operants. Presented via Direct Instruction, a self-instruction mnemonic and behavioral skills training, this workshop will prepare participants to use multiple exemplar play chain training to establish staff competency. Come prepared to analyze video, role play scenarios with toys/activities and practice coaching staff. Learn to scale and sequence training for successful staff implementation and client improvement. Outcome data from a pilot project which demonstrates improvement in learning opportunities after training implementation will also be presented. Learn from my 33 years of experience playing with children!


The core idea of behavior analysis is revolutionary in that attributes the source or cause of behavior not to the behaving person him or herself but to what has happened to that person up to the exhibition of the behavior. This is one of the most powerful idea ever invented by mankind for understanding, knowing, and dealing with human behavior, especially when it is a problem (because it seeks not to fix the blame but rather seeks to fix the problem instead). And virtually everything this idea touches improves. It has revolutionized approaches to habit disorders, incontinence, addictions, delinquency, and numerous other major concerns of our time. Still, the idea has only begun to be harnessed. Not only can it be used to improve the lives of clients in need, but it can also be used to improve the lives of their providers, and indeed the lives of all people. This talk will describe several options derived from behavior analysis the application of which could exert a powerful beneficial influence on everyday life. Examples range from reducing stage fright to improving relations with significant others and much in between.


As behavior analysts, we strive to be objective and data driven. However, our work is impacted by our unique perspectives and learning experiences, which shape our research, mentorship, clinical practices, and interpretations of the world. Institutionalized discrimination – based on race, gender, national origin, disability, and socioeconomic position, among others – persists in academic and scientific institutions. Further, such discrimination has created barriers for individuals from minoritized groups to participate in building and adding their perspectives to our science. It is imperative for the growth of the field of behavior analysis for us to actively engage in behaviors that foster inclusive and safe learning environments for students, engage in collaborative work, and incorporate culturally responsive research, mentorship, and clinical practices. Cultural responsiveness and anti-racist practices must become seamlessly embedded in all our endeavors. This talk will review where we are as a field, showcase exemplars of culturally responsive practices, and propose steps for moving forward.


Designing programs to teach useful skills to individuals with developmental disabilities is challenging. Thankfully, Skinner’s method of molecular analysis has provided us the necessary tools to analyze even highly complex human behavior. Applying his analysis has many advantages when designing instruction to teach meaningful skills to individuals with and without disabilities. This presentation will focus on translating Skinner’s theoretical analysis of problems and problem solving into real world applications. Examples from applied research will be reviewed with recommendations for ways to integrate the findings into practice.


Phonetic hand cueing systems are commonly used by speech-language pathologists and are promoted in commercially available products (Carahaly, 2012; Kaufman, 2007; Strode, 1994, and others), however; research on the effectiveness of these systems for improving articulation is limited (Hall and Jordan, 1992, Jordan 1988, Klick, 1985, Stelton & Graves 1985). This series of studies examines the effect of the systematic use of phonetic hand cues as a stimulus control transfer procedure and compares the relative effectiveness of phonetic hand cue procedures to other commonly used differential reinforcement procedures. Study results reveal rapid acquisition of hand cues, and improved articulation at the syllable and word level as well as use of hand cues to improve intelligibility in natural settings. Reduction of speech sound errors on formal testing further confirms results. Use of hand cues as part of an ABA or school program from target selection to generalization of improved articulation across the verbal operants will be presented and illustrated via video examples. Results confirm previous case study findings that phonetic hand cues may be an effective intervention in promoting speech production skills in children with autism with limited vocal repertoires.


It is critical to identify methods to enhance the social validity of behavior-analytic treatments and services. Recent trends in behavior-analytic research show that researchers and practitioners are interested in finding ways to improve the social validity of interventions (Ferguson et al., 2018). Currently, the most empirically supported intervention for pediatric feeding disorders is escape extinction (non-removal of the spoon), and there is a growing body of evidence to support the use of various antecedent- and reinforcement-based alternatives. Although escape extinction is well-established, some may view this intervention to be more intrusive, which can lead to questions and misconceptions related to its social validity. The purpose of this talk is to discuss social validity as it relates to various treatments for pediatric feeding disorders. More specific, I will review (a) various objective measures of social validity and how they have been applied to feeding-disorders treatments and (b) methods for maintaining a safe environment for comprehensive assessment and treatment.

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Organizations are facing tremendous labor shortages, with millions of more job openings than qualified workers to fill them. The pandemic has accelerated a demographic problem that was predicted to hit the workforce, and now behavioral healthcare providers must deal with it immediately. The workforce shrinkage has exacerbated what organizations providing behavior analytic services already felt with the higher turnover rates of professionals implementing treatments for individuals with autism. In this presentation, I will discuss ways that leadership can shield against the tremendous loss of qualified clinicians and professionals and increase the quality of care, maintenance of staff, and recruitment of talent in their organizations.

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