The Thursday Morning Keynote
(University of North Texas)
Behavioral Cusps: 20 Years Later
The schedule for the convention and other information are coming soon.
The goal of the Professional Behavior Analyst SIG of the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan (BAAM) is to disseminate information to Autism practitioners in the state of Michigan regarding insurance reform, licensure rules and regulations, and various other funding and state initiatives that affect professional behavior analysts. Dissemination would also include ensuring accurate representation of behavior analysis in publications or presentations across the state, as well as advising BAAM on content of communication disseminated to ASD professionals in Michigan.
Description of Membership
Membership would be open to any practitioner who is a behavior analyst, or assistant behavior analyst, associated with behavioral health services through Michigan’s Medicaid Program and Commercial Insurance, and is a current member of the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan.
Members of the SIG would meet annually at the BAAM conference, as well as quarterly (web based and/or face to face).
The Western Michigan University Autism Center for Excellence announces the availability of a series of video interviews with experts in ABA, autism and behavioral pediatrics. See the text of the press release here.
These videos feature presentations and interviews with experts in applied behavior analysis and behavioral pediatrics. In many cases, the videos also include supplemental materials and clinical simulations that demonstrate the application of essential features of an assessment or intervention technique. These videos are designed to enhance the ability of applied behavior analysis practitioners.
Objective data on licensing exam pass rates, internship placements, and other measures put both the Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan Clinical Psychology training programs, which include training in behavior analysis and BCBA preparation, in the top ten of programs in the nation.
Archive of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB)
View the contents of all back issues from 1958-2012.
View the contents of all back issues from 1978-2013 (vol. 1)
Organizations taking on pseudoscience. See BAAM's compilation of resolutions repudiating Facilitated Communication
The Verbal Summator was a device created in the early 1930s by B.F. Skinner to present random speech sounds. Now we would use computer to do this. Skinner had to adapt what was then called an "indexing phonograph"-- record player designed to drop the needle in a specific groove. Dubbed an "Auditory Rorschach," listeners would seem to hear meaningful speech within what was actually meaningless output.
View the contents of all back issues from 1985-2013 (vol. 1) and issues of Verbal Behavior News 1982-1983
Time Magazine, which has had a history of endorsing dangerous (Facilitated Communication) and empirically unsupported (Floortime) autism treatments, attacks "time-out," an empirically validated and well-tolerated method originally designed as an alternative to physical punishment. The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Practice Board responds.
Behavior Analyst Licensure Passes in Michigan!
Michigan SB1015, which establishes licensure for behavior analysts and SB1016, which creates a licensing board, passed the Michigan House of Representatives by a large bipartisan majority on December 14. The bills were signed by Lt. Governor Calley on January 3. It is important to note that the licensure will become a reality one year after the rules are promulgated. The new Board is doing this now. This means your organization, agency, or business has plenty of time to prepare.
Michigan SB1015 establishes licensure for Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts corresponding to the BCBA and BCaBA credentials. After three years, SB1015 requires that Behavior Technicians have completed a training program that is based on the BACB’s Registered Behavior Technician task list. The specifics of the implementation of this RBT rule will be determined by the Licensing Board. The initial licensing fee will be $90 with a processing fee of $75. According to the bill, the practice of behavior analysis includes:
According to SB1015, the Practice of Behavior Analysis includes:
(a) the empirical identification of functional relations between behavior and environmental factors, known as functional assessment and analysis, (b) applied behavior analysis interventions that are based on scientific research and the direct observation and measurement of behavior and the environment, (c) the utilization of contextual factors, motivating operations, antecedent stimuli, or positive reinforcement, (d) the utilization of other consequences to help individuals develop new behaviors, increase or decrease existing behaviors, and emit behaviors under specific environmental conditions.
The Practice of Behavior Analysis does not include:
(a) the practice of medicine, the practice of osteopathic medicine and surgery, or medical diagnosis or treatment, (b) the practice of speech-language pathology, (c) the practice of physical therapy, (d) the practice of occupational therapy, (e) psychological testing, including standardized testing for intelligence or personality, (f) diagnosis of a mental or physical impairment, (g) the practice of neuropsychology, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, sex therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, or counseling as treatment modalities, applied animal behavior, or organizational behavior management.
Michigan SB 1016 establishes a nine member Licensing Board for Behavior Analysts and Assistant Behavior Analysts consisting of four Behavior Analysts, one university-based individual who teaches or researches behavior analysis, one Assistant Behavior Analyst, a physician, and two public members. This Board will create licensing and disciplinary rules and standards based on the Licensing Law, SB 1015, and current professional standards of the discipline.
As noted above, implementation of these bills will not be immediate, but will require the Board to create implementation rules, an application, and a vetting process.
Special thanks go to the Senate Bill sponsors, Senator Rebekah Warren (D) and Margaret O'Brien (R) and their staffs who worked to make these bills a reality, and to James Todd (Eastern Michigan University), Wayne Fuqua (Western Michigan University), Colleen Allen (Autism Alliance of Michigan), Stephanie Peterson (Western Michigan University), Kim Gaedeke (LARA), and many others for their contributions.
Gentle Teaching? Gentle? Perhaps. Teaching? Not So Much.
Gentle Teaching is back, required in some Michigan service agencies. We are getting reports of mandatory GT workshops in which ABA is characterized as "torture" while doing essentially nothing to teach functional independent living skills is advanced as a laudable goal.
What is Gentle Teaching? Basically, it's an empirically unsupported philosophy of "Gentleness" and dependency that is more likely to interfere with efficient teaching than facilitate it. Read Jon Bailey's excellent and still current analysis here. For a more recent take on Gentle Teaching, see Arnold-Saritepe, Mudford, & Cullen's chapter, "Gentle Teaching," in Foxx and Mulick's Controversial Therapies for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities.
Is getting paid weekly an example of a fixed interval schedule of reinforcement?
No. A fixed interval (FI) schedule reinforces the first specified response after a specified period has elapsed. A weekly scheduled paycheck is not issued that way, contingent on a specific response after a week, then resetting after the response. At best, going and picking up a regularly scheduled paycheck might approximate a fixed interval--but not perfectly. Your next check will not become available exactly a week after picking up the first, but a week after the first was issued. On a true FI, the reinforcers do not accumulate until you finally respond.
Read the lectures that would eventually become B.F. Skinner 1957 classic book, Verbal Behavior.
Courtesy of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies
"Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis," by Donald Baer, Montrose Wolf, and Todd Risley, is a classic in the field, describing the fundamental features of ABA as a science- and evidence-based practice. It is, at its core, an excellent program evaluation tool with which you can measure any treatment approach for quality and potential for success. "Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis" appeared in the first issue of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and has been a standard reading in most behavior analysts curricula since.
View the contents of all back issues from 1968-2012.
Everyone seems fascinated by the pigeons B.F. Skinner taught to play a version of ping-pong. But, that was the not the most important part of his article, "Two 'Synthetic' Social Relations." It was just the introduction.
Basically, if you teach a couple of pigeons to peck at a ping-pong ball, and then put them on opposite sides of a small table, they will "play" ping-pong. That was a big deal at the time because the hand shaping of behavior was new. But, conceptually there aren't a lot of implications.
The second part of the article is the one to really pay attention to. What Skinner did was set up a contingency that required two pigeons separated by a pane of glass to peck corresponding keys at the same time. One pigeon spontaneously became a "leader," looking for which one of three keys produced food. The other pigeon, the "follower," came to mirror the behavior of the leader very closely, and the two seemed to be mirror images. This behavior generalized, and the pigeons would seem to mirror other behaviors as well. The follower pigeon showed the ability to engage in new forms of behavior simply by seeing them in the leader.
Why is this very important? Skinner had demonstrated how sophisticated generalized imitation can be established quickly with just contingent reward for imitating a relatively simple response. If a bird can do it, why not a child?
Michigan Behavior Analysts who are also Licensed or Limited License Psychologists should be aware of the new continuing education rules for Psychologists in effect Sept. 15, 2015.
Previously, Michigan LPs and LLPs were not required to earn CEUs for renewing their licenses. CEUs are now required. These rules apply only to Psychologists. They have no effect on BCBAs and BCaBAs. But, be aware that BACB CEUs may not count for this requirement unless they are also approved for psychology.
Please note that the Michigan Psychology rules reproduced on the BAAM website and BAAM legacy site are no longer current. Refer to the rules at the link below:
"Synomorph:" A Useful Concept From Our Ecological Psychologist Friends.
A synomorph (lit: same shape) is an instance of close fit between a particular behavior pattern and a specific part or parts of a behavior setting. A chair is a synomorph for sitting; a bed for sleeping; a cup for drinking.
The effective use of synomorphs can establish strong antecedent behavior control that reduces the need for instructions or behavioral programming. This is especially useful when the behavior of large numbers of individuals must be managed effectively such as in a classroom or public setting.
Writing in The Horse, Christa Lesté-Lasserre reports: Using a simple series of easily distinguishable printed symbols, Mejdell’s group taught 23 horses to associate symbols with certain actions. The horses learned that one symbol meant “blanket on,” another meant “blanket off,” and a third meant “no change.” Once the horses had learned the meanings (which took an average of 11 days), the researchers gave them free rein to choose symbols and rewarded them with food for their selection, regardless of which symbol they chose.
A common problem in blanket choice for horses is figuring out whether the horse is actually comfortable. This procedure would be an immediate solution. However, research on impulsivity predicts that the horses will make short-term choice, and that the blanket they want at the moment might not be suitable for conditions later.
What is the Matching Law?
First described in detail in a1961 article by Richard Herrnstein, matching law says that responses are distributed among alternatives in proportion to the relative amounts reward obtained on each alternative. If you get 1/3 of your reward on behavior A, and 2/3 on B, you will devote 1/3 of your effort to A and 2/3 to B.
BAAM Statement of Purpose
The Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan* has been organized to support and promote scientific research on the basic principles of behavior and the extension of those principles to create demonstrably effective and humane outcome-based therapies with the primary goal of establishing and enhancing functional independent living skills.
*BAAM is a state affiliate of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and is sponsored by the Eastern Michigan University Psychology Department.
Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197