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ABA/EIBI success story on MSNBC

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Some relevant articles on ABA/Early Intensive Behavioral Interventions:

  • Lovaas, O. I. (1993). The development of a treatment-research project for developmentally disabled and autistic children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 617-630. (PDF)
  • Lovaas, O. I., Koegel, R., Simmons, J. Q., & Long, J. S. (1973). Some generalization and follow-up measures on autistic children in behavior therapy. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 6, 131-165. (PDF)
  • Van Houten, R., Axelrod, S., Bailey, J. S., Favell, J. E., Foxx, R. M., Iwata, B. A., & Lovaas, O. I. (1988). The right to effective behavioral treatment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 21, 381-384. (PDF)

Find more outcome studies on ABA/EIBI at AutismPartnership.com

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Back issues of major behavioral journals free online.
(Behavior News 01/25/2010)

Michigan House passes bill 83-25 to require insurance coverage for autism
(Behavior News 06/24/2009)

The bill specifically recognizes Applied Behavior Analysis treatment and includes BCBAs under its definition of "Autism Service Provider." Services provided must be evidence-based and developed by a licensed physician or psychologist.

Now that the bill has passed the Democrat-controlled House, it must be passed by the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate before it can become law.

More news coverage

Legislative background and text of bills:

BCBSM LogoBlue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Must Pay for Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Treatment In Class-Action Case
(PR Newswire 06-19-2009)

"Under the terms of the settlement reached...June 17, 2009, Blue Cross has agreed to reimburse all families who paid for behavioral therapy for their children after May 1, 2003, and who were covered under a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan insurance policy."

"Under the settlement, Blue Cross will pay for behavioral therapy rendered to over 100 children in the last six years."

"...the settlement includes even families who never submitted a claim to Blue Cross, but who obtained this care for their children and were covered by a Blue Cross policy."

Sidney W. Bijou, author of classic texts on the behavior analysis of child development, dies at age 100.

Left: Sidney W. Bijou (November 12, 1908 to June 11, 2009)

From the announcement:

A peaceful, natural death, as he was getting ready for another day. A life well lived to the very last moment. We will miss this gentle, extraordinary man who accomplished so much and was so loved and respected. He set the standard for all of us.We were lucky to get to hang out with him for so long.
With love,
Bob and Jude

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to an organization that benefits kids or cats.

Read more about Sid Bijou here

Michigan autism insurance bills get unanimous Health Policy Committee vote
Behavior News 06-10-2009

This Michigan Senate and other legislative action is pending.

Additional information

Nevada passes autism insurance bill that establishes applied behavior analysis licensure.
Behavior News 06-10-2009

On May 29, 2009, with the signature of Governor Jim Gibbons, the state of Nevada passed new insurance regulations (AB 162) that require providers to cover up to $36,000 annually for applied behavior analysis treatment for children with autism up to 18 years of age if not in school and through 21 years if in school:

1. A health benefit plan must provide an option of coverage for screening for and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and for treatment of autism spectrum disorders for persons covered by the policy under the age of 18 or, if enrolled in high school, until the person reaches the age of 22.

2. Optional coverage provided pursuant to this section must be subject to: (a) A maximum benefit of not less than $36,000 per year for applied behavior analysis treatment; and (b) Copayment, deductible and coinsurance provisions and any other general exclusions or limitations of a policy of health insurance to the same extent as other medical services or prescription drugs covered by the policy.

The bill defines the practice of behavior analysis and establishes two classes of licensed behavior analysts, a "Licensed Assistant Behavior Analyst" and "Licensed Behavior Analyst," to provide applied behavior analysis treatment for autism:

(a) “Applied behavior analysis” means the design, implementation and evaluation of environmental modifications using behavioral stimuli and consequences to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior, including, without limitation, the use of direct observation, measurement and functional analysis of the relations between environment and behavior.

(g) “Licensed assistant behavior analyst” means a person who holds current certification or meets the standards to be certified as a board certified assistant behavior analyst issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc., or any successor in interest to that organization, who is licensed as an assistant behavior analyst by the Board of Psychological Examiners and who provides behavioral therapy under the supervision of a licensed behavior analyst or psychologist.

(h) “Licensed behavior analyst” means a person who holds current certification or meets the standards to be certified as a board certified behavior analyst or a board certified assistant behavior analyst issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc., or any successor in interest to that organization, and who is licensed as a behavior analyst by the Board of Psychological Examiners.

The bill does not restrict licensed psychologists from providing treatment .

BCBSM LogoBlue Cross Blue Shield to give limited coverage for applied behavior analysis for autism in Michigan.
Behavior News 05-11-2009

Blue Cross Blue Shield today announced limited coverage of ABA treatment for autism for children between 2 and 5 years of age. Up to 60 treatment sessions will be covered per child beginning July 1, 2009. Other details are not available pending regulatory approval. The BCBSM press release is below:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan today announced it plans to offer its customer groups the ability to purchase coverage for autism treatment programs that provide intensive early intervention. The new benefit option covers children aged two to five years old who use a treatment called Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). The new benefit option is subject to approval by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.

The benefit coverage, which consists of up to 60 treatment sessions (usually 12 weeks) can be used once per child, will be available for purchase by customer groups that already have outpatient mental health coverage. The Blues plan to begin offering the coverage July 1, pending regulatory approval. Many Michigan insurers do not currently provide customer groups with the ability to purchase the benefit option.

"We saw a need in the community and moved to find a way to address it," said Thomas Simmer, M.D., Blues senior vice president and chief medical officer. "We developed this coverage option as part of our commitment to improving the health and wellness of all Michigan children and families."

The change will not in any way affect current BCBSM medical coverage that has been available to children with autism. BCBSM currently pays for some services for children with autism including an initial exam and evaluation for speech therapy.

"This is a reasonable new offering which does not unduly create a price impact on customer groups that would affect their ability to continue to provide health care coverage to their employees," Simmer said.

BCBSM customer groups can contact their agent or BCBSM sales representative for further information once the coverage option receives regulatory approval.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside
the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred, Community Blue and Healthy Blue Incentives PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living; Flexible Blue plans compatible with health savings accounts;

Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue products in the under-age-65 individual market. BCBSM also offers dental, vision andhearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

New iPhone/iPod Touch counter application available. Useful for behavioral data collection.
Behavior News 01-16-2009

MakeItCount, a new iPhone/iPod Touch application available from the iTunes Application Store enables users to count predefined events and then send the results by email. Behavior analysts looking for a way to avoid the problems associated with the old paper-and-pencil methods of data collection, and to automate the collection and storage of the data, will find this application convenient and useful.Up to 20 different counters can be configured. Up to two counters may be used at once for collecting data on two subjects or events. A built-in database stores the counts for long-term data collection. Multiple sessions in a day can be combined into one overall score. Users can leverage the existing power of standard email systems to time-sample, verify, and archive data. Data can be sent to multiple addresses. Data collected for an applied research project might be sent simultaneously to the principal investigator, the observer, the client's behavior analyst, and the parents. Time stamping for automatic rate calculation is not available, although notes can appended to the email to indicate data collection periods. A countdown feature vibrates (on capable devices) when the count reaches zero, allowing the operator to determine without looking when a criterion number number of events has been recorded. Part of proceeds go to United Way for Education.

MakeItCount Official Specifications

Release Date: 01/15/2009
Size: 0.3 MB
Languages: English
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch Requires iPhone 2.2 Software Update
URL: http://support.listprojects.com
The only fully featured counting application on the iPhone and iPod touch!

*** 10% of the proceeds from this application will go to the United Way for Education ***

MakeItCount! does the following:

  • Hosts up to 20 counters at once -- customize them with their own labels and decrement/increment actions.
  • Increments and decrements at levels you specify and starts at predefined number of your choosing.
  • Stores counter data behind the scenes in a powerful, yet eloquent sqlite3 database.
  • Immediately resumes your last view on relaunch.
  • Emails your counter data directly from your device.
  • Has option to vibrate each time you press the main counter button.
  • Has option to optimize the button layout for decrementing the counter.
  • Vibrates when you decrement the counter to zero.
  • Has option to allow negative numbers.
  • Supports counting numbers up to 10,000,000.
  • Allows showing two counters at once for sports score keeping and other operations by rotating the device horizontally at the main counter selection screen. The selected counter automatically displays with the one underneath it.
  • Undoes the 10 most recent actions on command.


  • Vibration is only for devices that support it.
  • An active email account on your device is needed to email data.
  • If your devices crashes while using this application, try restarting it before seeking further support.

Back issues of The Behavior Analyst now online at PubMed Central.
Behavior News 12-13-2008

Beginning with the 2006 volume, complete back issues of The Behavior Analyst are available online at PubMed Central. The Behavior Analyst is the official journal of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The Behavior Analyst publishes articles of general interest to behavior analysts, including professional, theoretical, historical, and conceptual pieces. PubMed Central is a free digital archive of scientific and technical journals. Complete back issues of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior are also available on PubMed.


Travis ThompsonTravis Thompson on the proliferation of ineffective autism treatments: "Doing Anything May Not Be Better Than Doing Nothing."
Behavior News 12-10-2008

In a recent entry in his Amazon Blog, Travis Thompson, professor in the the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and author of the excellent book, Dr. Thompson's Straight Talk On Autism, comments on the problems associated with the proliferation of ineffective and dangerous autism treatments. Suggesting that it is sometimes better to step back and wait, even in seemingly desperate times, rather than just "doing something," Thompson writes:

The premise of this statement ("doing something is better than doing nothing") is that someone is seriously considering doing nothing in response to a situation or condition. Virtually never is doing nothing an option that anyone is seriously entertaining. It’s just that what is being offered isn’t appealing to the speaker, hence from their vantage point amounts to nothing. They are looking for something more dramatic that will eliminate their fear and abolish their pain. The bogus “doing something” argument avoids acknowledging their fear.

Thompson goes on to list and discuss over two dozen questionable and ineffective interventions commonly used for autism, ranging from "fun" ones like riding horses to downright dangerous practices such as chelation, immunoglobulin and hyperbaric oxygen treatment. All cost money or time, says Thompson, leading parents to waste valuable resources which could be put to better use elsewhere:

The search is constantly on for a new and better treatment....Nearly every child with whom I have been involved in providing home-based early intervention services, is also being schlepped to private occupational therapy, speech therapy, early childhood special education, social skills sessions, and often one to two other lessons or therapies per week. There is no information available that indicates such a complex array of therapies and educational programs is beneficial. Little time remains to participate in, and follow through with therapies that really do make a difference, like speech or behavior therapy, or to enjoy typical family activities.

The cost and disappointment experienced by desperate parents trying one ineffective treatment after another can lead not only to financial and physical burnout, but psychological burnout as well. They can become cynical about all treatments--including those with less "pizzazz" that are working, but perhaps more slowly than they might hope for (or have been lead to believe is possible by the purveyors of the "quick fixes").

Thompson is the grandfather of a child with autism.



Sidney Bijou at 100 years oldSidney W. Bijou, author of classic texts in the behavior analysis of child development, celebrates 100th birthday.
Behavior News 11-25-2008

Sidney W. Bijou, whose classic books with the late Donald M. Baer of the University of Kansas, Child Development I: A Systematic and Empirical Theory (1961) and Child Development II: The Universal Stage of Childhood (1965), established the behavior analysis of child development, celebrated his 100th birthday on November 12.

Bijou is well known for his pioneering work using behavioral principles to analyze the behavior of children--work which lead directly to the successful application of behavioral principles to developmental disabilities, including autism. More about Sid Bijou's fascinating career and important contributions to behavior analysis can be found on his website.

New course in applied behavior analysis for autism at Eastern Michigan University enrolling now.
Behavior News 11-25-2008

Registration is now available for PSY 479 at Eastern Michigan University. Krista Kennedy, Director of Behavioral Services at the DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan, is teaching a course on Behavioral Interventions for Autism starting January 7th for the winter semester 2009. Classes will be held at EMU on Wed evenings from 5:30-8:10pm. This class will cover topics including behavioral methodologies, functional analysis, Discrete Trial Teaching, Incidental Teaching, Verbal Behavior, and PECS. If you are a parent or a professional looking to learn more about evidence-based interventions for autism this class will guide you effective implementation of a variety of behavioral techniques. The course is open to anyone. Students do not need any psychology prerequisites. If you are not a student at Eastern Michigan University you can also register as a guest. Contact the EMU Psychology Department for registration details 734-487-1155 or you can contact Krista Kennedy at kristakennedy@ymail.com if you have questions about the course.

Crighton "Bud" NewsomCrighton "Bud" Newsom, applied behavior analysis pioneer, dies.
Behavior News 11-17-2008

Crighton "Bud" Newsom, who assisted with the development of early behavioral intervention for children with autism, has died.

Newsom was not as well known as some of his contemporaries, but his contributions to the literature, and to well-being of those effected by autism, are immeasurable. He is especially missed in Ohio, where he was the Director of Psychology at the Southwest Ohio Developmental Center and worked in many other ways to advocate and support high quality, science-based autism treatment. Newsom's collaborator and colleague, Kimberly Kroger-Geoppinger, writes movingly of Newsom in the newsletter of the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati:

A great loss has befallen both the local and national autism communities with the passing of Dr. Crighton Newsom. Dr. Newsom (“Bud” to his current colleagues and “Buddy” to his old cronies) was the diamond rough, the quiet giant, and the greatest ally to the community and the field. Bud was on the pioneering lead by Dr. Ivar Lovaas of UCLA that championed that individuals with autism could learn when the world believed them to be hopeless and institutionalization was considered the “humane” thing to do. (Kroger-Geoppinger, 2008, p 2)

Representative academic works by Crighton "Bud" Newsom (some with full text available).

  • Kroeger, K. A., Schultz, J. R., & Newsom, C. (2007). A comparison of two group-delivered social skills programs for young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(5), 808-817. (Abstract; Slide show)
  • Newsom, C., & Hovanitz, C. A. (2006). Autistic spectrum disorders. In E. J. Mash, & R. A. Barkley (Eds.), Treatment of childhood disorders (3rd.ed). (pp. 455-511). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
  • Newsom, C., & Hovanitz, C. A. (2005). The nature and value of empirically validated interventions. In J. W. Jacobson, R. M. Foxx & J. A. Mulick (Eds.), Controversial therapies for developmental disabilities: Fad, fashion and science in professional practice. (pp. 31-44). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
  • Newsom, C., & Kroeger, K. A. (2005). Nonaversive treatment. In J. W. Jacobson, R. M. Foxx & J. A. Mulick (Eds.), Controversial therapies for developmental disabilities: Fad, fashion and science in professional practice. (pp. 405-422). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
  • Newsom, C., & Hovanitz, C. A. (1997). Autistic disorder. In E. J. Mash, & L. G. Terdal (Eds.), Assessment of childhood disorders (3rd ed.). (pp. 408-452). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
  • Mason, S. A., & Newsom, C. D. (1990). The application of sensory change to reduce stereotyped behavior. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 11(3), 257-271.
  • Newsom, C., & Lovaas, O. I. (1987). A neurobiological nonalternative: Rejoinder to Lewis, Baumeister, and Mailman. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20(3), 259-262. (Full text)
  • Lovaas, I., Newsom, C., & Hickman, C. (1987). Self-stimulatory behavior and perceptual reinforcement. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20(1), 45-68. (Full text)
  • Rincover, A., & Newsom, C. D. (1985). The relative motivational properties of sensory and edible reinforcers in teaching autistic children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18(3), 237-248. (Full text)
  • Carr, E. G., & Newsom, C. (1985). Demand-related tantrums: Conceptualization and treatment. Behavior Modification, 9(4), 403-426.
  • Eason, L. J., White, M. J., & Newsom, C. (1982). Generalized reduction of self-stimulatory behavior: An effect of teaching appropriate play to autistic children. Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 2(2-3), 157-169.
  • Carr, E. G., Newsom, C. D., & Binkoff, J. A. (1980). Escape as a factor in the aggressive behavior of two retarded children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 13(1), 101-117. (Full text)
  • Rincover, A., Newsom, C. D., & Carr, E. G. (1979). Using sensory extinction procedures in the treatment of compulsivelike behavior of developmentally disabled children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47(4), 695-701.
  • Rincover, A., Newsom, C. D., Lovaas, O. I., & Koegel, R. L. (1977). Some motivational properties of sensory stimulation in psychotic children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 24(2), 312-323.
  • Newsom, C. D., & Simon, K. M. (1977). A simultaneous discrimination procedure for the measurement of vision in nonverbal children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10(4), 633-644. (Full text)

Assistant professor in Applied Behavior Analysis position at Eastern Michigan University. (Position closed)
Behavior News 10-20-2008

Child Applied Behavior Analysis (Posting #F0934)

Tenure-track position in applied behavior analysis (ABA) at Assistant Professor rank to begin in Fall 2009. Required: Doctorate in Psychology, Behavior Analysis, or related field with specialization in ABA with autism/developmental disabilities at time of hire; evidence of strong ongoing research program; evidence of ability to teach a range of relevant courses to a diverse student body. Candidates who are (or eligible for) BCBA and clinical psychology licensure in Michigan are preferred.

The successful candidate will be expected to join seven behaviorally oriented faculty in a diverse 25-member department to teach graduate and undergraduate courses in applied behavior analysis, learning, behavioral assessment, and other topics consistent with expertise; supervise thesis and dissertation research; establish a research program in behavior analysis with student participation at all levels; supervise clinical students toward certification and licensure; and participate in department- and university-level committees.

The Psychology Department has MS programs in Clinical, Clinical-Behavioral, and Experimental psychology, an APA-accredited Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, and approximately 700 undergraduate majors. The department includes an onsite clinic for family and individual therapy and an active experimental analysis of behavior laboratory. Among ongoing building projects is new space for the Psychology Department. The position includes the opportunity to significantly influence a newly funded multidisciplinary autism treatment facility in collaboration with Special Education and other departments. EMU sponsors the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan that holds an annual three- to four-track convention featuring world class speakers. EMU enrolls approximately 22,000 students on a modern campus in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor community--less than five miles from Ann Arbor and 35 miles from Detroit and Windsor Ontario. New faculty members receive an outstanding benefits package, reduced teaching load in the first year, startup funds, and other incentives.

Official screening is expected to begin on or about January 1 and continue until finalists are selected. Send a letter of application describing teaching and research interests, Curriculum Vita, representative publications, and three letters of reference to: academic_hr@emich.edu. Reference posting number #F0934 in the subject line and in the letter of application. Questions about the position may be directed to James Todd, Ph.D., at jtodd@emich.edu.

Eastern Michigan University is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Educator that is strongly committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The University actively encourages applications from women, persons of color, and applicants with disabilities, veterans, and members of other underrepresented groups.


Ontario school initiates sexual abuse investigation based on a psychic reading, refuses to provide science-based treatment for the child.
Behavior News 09-22-2008

An Ontario mother whose non-verbal daughter with autism, Victoria, has been refused applied behavior analysis treatment became the subject of a child sexual abuse investigation initiated by a psychic reading.

A teacher's assistant working with Victoria at Terry Fox Elementary School in Barrie, Ontario had in late May 2008 visited a psychic who claimed that a girl whose name began with "V" was being molested by two men. The assistant reported the conversation to school authorities who apparently combined the report with accounts of supposedly sexualized behaviors exhibited by the girl and contacted the Children's Aid Society.

An investigation was conducted, and the mother, who had the foresight to equip the girl with a GPS recording device, was cleared by CAS. Following the investigation, the mother feared for her daughter's safety and removed the child from the school.

Related coverage:

Parents in facilitated communication abuse case sue school and court officials.
Behavior News 09-22-2008

On September 11, 2008, Oakland County parents who were accused in late 2007 through facilitated communication (FC) of raping their daughter and involving their son in the activity have sued school and court officials for unspecified damages.

Among the 40 counts, many involving violations of fundamental rights of citizens and of the accused, the parents have asserted that school officials failed to properly train the paraprofessionals working with their daughter (then 14) and that the police and prosecutor failed to properly validate the accusations despite instructions received from a facilitated communication advocate who introduced the family to FC worked with the girl and family. The family additionally claimed serious emotional distress due to the aggressive police interrogation of the girl's then 13-year-old brother. During the interrogation, which was done without informing the parents, court-appointed guardian, or attorneys, the police lied to the boy about being in sexual explicit photo records and used other coercive techniques which are inconsistent with rules for questioning children. The charges in the case were dropped on March 11, but only after the father had spent 80 days jail and the facilitators failed to answer a single question correctly in two separate tests of facilitated communication during the January hearing.

Related coverage:

New study in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis shows social reinforcement can produce significant improvement in joint attention in children with autism.
Behavior News 09-04-2008

In a new study in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Bridget A. Taylor and Hanna Hoch (Alpine Leaning Center, Paramus, New Jersey) show how prompting and social reinforcement may be used to produce socially significant improvements in joint attention in children with autism. The three children in the study ranged in age from 3 to 8 years, and like many children with autism, showed only incomplete and unreliable joint attention prior to the study. That is, people with autism will often look at objects when directed to by others, but then do not reliably continue the interaction by commenting or looking back at the person who initiated the interaction. Taylor and Hoch's intervention increased looking at items from about 70% of the time to virtually 100% of the time. Comments about the items by the children increased from about 25% of occasions to virtually 100%. Looking back at the person who initiated the interaction increased from about 10% of opportunities to nearly 80%. These results indicate that some of the most fundamental components of everyday social interactions may be effectively taught to children with autism using standard behavioral techniques.


Taylor, B. A., & Hoch, H. (2008). Teaching children with autism to respond to and initiate bids for joint attention. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 41(3), 377-391. (Full text PDF)

Review of published studies concludes that weighed vests are ineffective as a treatment for behavior problems in children with autism and other disorders.
Behavior News 07-25-2008

Cover of journal Behavioral InterventionsA comprehensive literature review to be published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by Australian researchers Jennifer Stephenson and Mark Carter (Macquarie University Special Education Centre) shows that that weighted vests are ineffective as an intervention for behavior problems in children (abstract). Advocates of Sensory Integration sometimes recommend that children wear weighted vests as a non-invasive means of remediating a wide range of problems including hyperactivity, sensory sensitivity, inattention, clumsiness, stereotypic behavior, and even self-injury. However, of the seven studies examined in detail, four concluded that weighted vests were ineffective, one reported mixed results, and only two claimed relatively weak positive effects. Moreover, those studies that claimed to demonstrate benefits from weighted vests suffered from important methodological weaknesses and biases that undermined the credibility of the claims. For instance, a 2001 study by Vandenberg involving four children simply measured certain behaviors before and after putting the vests on (an AB design), but did not include any control subjects or a return to baseline to determine if the treatment effects were due to the vest or other factors. Another 2001 study by Fertel-Daly, Bedell, and Hinojosa featured a stronger ABA (reversal) experimental design, but used varying scales of in their graphic presentations to exaggerate the size of their small and inconsistent treatment effects. In one case, the range of the vertical axis of a graph was restricted to 10% of the full scale of the data. In some other cases, the ABA designed actually revealed a lack of experimental control as when decreases in the target behavior observed during the treatment condition continued when the weighted vests were removed. The credibility of the mixed findings of a 2004 study by Myles and colleagues are undermined by several problems including important errors and inconsistencies in the reported data.

In general, the strength of the claimed effects for weighted vests inversely related to the quality of the research methodology. According to the authors:

It is clear that consistent positive effects of the wearing of weighted vests have not been demonstrated, a finding consistent with research on sensory integration therapy in general (see Arendt et al. 1988; Baranek 2002; Dawson and Watling 2000; Hoehn and Baumeister 1994; Hyatt et al. in press; National Research Council 2001; Leong and Carter 2008; New York State Department of Health 1999; Perry and Condillac 2003; Roberts 2004; Shaw 2002; Vargas and Camilli 1999). In four of the studies examined, the vests had no clinically significant effect on behavior. In two studies (Fertel-Daly et al. 2001; VandenBerg 2001) positive effects were claimed and Myles et al. (2004) reported mixed results, but there were some important interpretive problems and further discussion is warranted.

In addition to the weakness of the the data supporting the effectiveness of weighted vests, Stephenson and Carter also describe unclear and inconsistent criteria for the use of the vests and apparently little attention to the orthopedic risks to children carrying up to 10% of their body weights for extended periods. The authors concluded that while there might be reason to look more closely at the claimed benefits of weighted vests, they should not be recommended as an effective clinical intervention.

While it should be acknowledged there is only a limited body of research, on balance, indications are that weighted vests are ineffective. There may be an arguable case for continued research on this intervention but future investigators need to ensure that: criteria for participant selection are replicable and justifiable; participants are adequately described; interobserver reliability is satisfactorily established; observers are blinded to the presence of weight in the vests; results are appropriately interpreted with consideration of the functional magnitude of changes; more stringent research designs (such as alternating treatment or multiple baseline designs) are employed. Until such time as well-conducted studies can provide replicated evidence to the contrary, weighted vests cannot be recommended for clinical application.

Study Reference

  • Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (in press). The use of weighted vests with children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.


  • Arendt, R. E., MacLean, W. E., & Baumeister, A. A. (1988). Critique of sensory integration therapy and its application to mental retardation. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 92, 401–411.
  • Baranek, G. T. (2002). Efficacy of sensory and motor interventions for children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32, 397–422. doi:10.1023/A:1020541906063.
  • Barton, E.E., Reichow, B., & Wolery, M. (2007, May). Double blind placebo evaluation on the engagement of young children with autism. Poster session presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, Seattle Washington.
  • Carter, S. L. (2005). An empirical analysis of the effects of a possible sinus infection and weighted vest on functional analysis outcomes of self-injury exhibited by a child with autism. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Interventions, 2, 252–258.
  • Dawson, G. D., & Watling, R. (2000). Interventions to facilitate auditory, visual, and motor integration in autism: A review of the evidence. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30, 415–421. doi:10.1023/A:1005547422749
  • Fertel-Daly, D., Bedell, G., & Hinojosa, J. (2001). Effects of a weighted vest on attention to task and self-stimulatory behaviors in preschoolers with pervasive developmental disorders. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 629–640.
  • Hoehn, T. P., & Baumeister, A. A. (1994). A critique of the application of sensory integration therapy to children with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27, 338–350.
  • Hyatt, K. J., Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (in press). A review of three controversial educational practices: Perceptual motor programs, sensory integration, and tinted lenses. Education and Treatment of Children.
  • Leong, H. M., & Carter, M. (2008). Research on the efficacy of sensory integration therapy: Past, present and future. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32, 83–99.
  • Myles, B. S., Simpson, R. L., Carlson, J., Laurant, M., Gentry, A. M., Cook, K. T., et al. (2004). Examining the effects of the use of weighted vests for addressing behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of the International Association of Special Education, 5, 47–62.
  • National Research Council (Ed.). (2001). Educating children with autism. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • New York State Department of Health. (1999). Clinical practice guideline—Report of the guideline recommendations: Autism/pervasive developmental disorders assessment and intervention for young children (Age 0–3 Years). Retrieved August 8, 2006, from http://www.health.state.ny.us/community/infants_children/early_intervention/autism/index.htm.
  • Perry, A., & Condillac, R. (2003). Evidence-based practices for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Review of the literature and practice guide. Toronto, Canada: Children’s Medical Health Ontario.
  • Roberts, J. (2004). A review of the research to identify the most effective models of best practice in the management of children with autism spectrum disorder. Sydney, NSW: Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care.
  • Shaw, S. R. (2002). A school psychologist investigates sensory integration therapies: Promise, possibility, and the art of placebo. NASP Communique, 31(2). Retrieved August 9, 2006, from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/cq312si.html.
  • VandenBerg, N. L. (2001). The use of a weighted vest to increase on-task behavior in children with attention difficulties. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55, 621–628.
  • Vargas, S., & Camilli, G. (1999). A meta-analysis of research on sensory integration treatment. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53, 189–198.

New quantitative case analysis by BAAM members shows improvements in important cognitive and adaptive measures by children with autism after participation in intensive behavioral treatment.
Behavior News 07-20-2008

Cover of journal Behavioral InterventionsA new study by BAAM members Ruth M. Anan, Lori J. Warner, Jamie E. McGillivary, Ivy M. Chong and Stefani J. Hines (Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan) shows significant gains in cognitive and adaptive functions after a 12-week (180 hour) parent training program in behavioral interventions--the GIFT program (Group Intensive Family Training).

The behavior of children in 72 parent- child dyads was assessed using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and Vineland Adaptive Behavior scales before and after individualized parent training. Parents were trained to use basic behavioral techniques and concepts such as differential reinforcement, response-cost, reinforcement thinning, shaping, chaining, prompting, programmatic generalization, errorless teaching, establishing and transferring stimulus control, mand training,and motivational operations. In keeping with important methods of promoting generalization and maintenance of treatment gains and the least-restrictive treatment philosophy, parents were taught to incorporate the interventions to the extent possible into everyday activities. According to the authors, "Perhaps most important, parents were taught to incorporate many of these behavioral principles during various day-to-day activities with their children" (p. 171; see BAAM video series for examples of behavioral interventions incorporated into everyday activities.). It is also important to note that the parents were instructed to teach adult-directed and child-directed activities. The latter is especially important in promoting peer socialization.

The results of the program were impressive. According to the authors,

Analyses revealed average gains of eight standard score points on the Mullen Early Learning Composite and five standard score points on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Composite after 12 weeks of treatment. Additionally, 14% and 11% of the children moved from the ‘impaired’ to ‘non-impaired’ range on Mullen and Vineland composite scores, respectively. (p. 165).

During the 4.1 month average interval between pre-test and post-test, the children showed an average of 8.2 months overall developmental gains on the Mullen and and 5.7 months on the Vineland. According to the authors:

This rate of developmental progress is particularly impressive, as these children had not made month-for-month developmental gains prior to treatment. (p. 174)

Putting these gains in a larger perspective, the authors also note:

Bearing in mind that this intervention was only 12 weeks in length, these findings are generally in keeping with data from Eikeseth and his colleagues (2002) who found mean increases in cognitive and adaptive functioning of 17 and 11 standard score points, respectively, following a full year of intensive behavioral treatment from professional therapists. A review by Smith (1999) cites IQ gains ranging from 7 to 28 points, and recent studies by Sallows and Graupner (2005) and by Howard et al. (2005) document IQ gains of 18 and 29 points, respectively, for children receiving intensive behavioral intervention for more than a year.

Results such as these suggest that well designed parent-training programs in behavioral treatments for autism can results in gains similar to those seen in some more intensive center-based programs. Of critical importance in achieving this level of success is maintaining parent engagement with the program and good fidelity to program procedures. References:

  • Anan, R.M., Warner, L.J., McGillivary, J.E.,Chong, I.M., & Hines, S.J. (2008). Group Intensive Family Training (GIFT) for
    preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. Behavioral Interventions, 23(3), 165–180Eikeseth, S., Smith, T., Jahr, E., & Eldevik, S. (2002). Intensive behavioral treatment at school for 4- to 7-year-old children with autism: A 1-year comparison controlled study. Behavior Modification, 26, 49–68.Howard, J. S., Sparkman, C. R., Cohen, H. G., Green, G., & Stanislaw, H. (2005). A. comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatments for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26, 359–383. Sallows, G. O., & Graupner, T. D. (2005). Intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism: Four-year outcome and predictors. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 110, 417–438.
  • Smith, T. (1999). Outcome of early intervention for children with autism. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 6, 33–49.


Survey of 469 Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) shows treatment preferences and other beliefs.
Behavior News 07-20-2008

An online 212-question survey of 469 Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) published in the current issue of Behavioral Interventions shows that the vast majority of BCBAs report using applied behavior analysis (ABA) and ABA-based treatments. However, according to authors Kimberly A. Schreck (Pennsylvania State, left) and Alison Mazur (Pathway School, Norristown, PA), BCBAs "endorsed and used all types of treatments, despite their beliefs that the treatments were difficult to implement, not cost effective, and not supported by research" (p. 201).  For example, 30 of the 469 BCBAs (6.4%) reported using the discredited method facilitated communication.  

The questions asked in the survey were designed to assess a sizable number of issues, including:

  • the number and ages of clients treated
  • the respondent’s education and professional training for autism treatment
  • the status of the respondent’s behavior analysis certification
  • the types of employment and professional agency affiliation
  • the type of treatment used
  • the judgment of the effectiveness of the each treatment
  • whether each treatment was effective
  • whether each treatment changed behavior
  • if each treatment was easy to implement
  • if each treatment was cost effective
  • if each treatment was supported by research

The major results of the survey are indicated in the table below:

Percent that Reported Using the Intervention
Percent Reporting Belief in Empirical Support for Intervention
Verbal Behavior
Positive Behavior Support
Person Centered
Sensory Integration
Physical Therapy
Facilitated Communication
Music Therapy
Gentle Teaching
Auditory Integration

The discrepancies in some cases between the reported level of empirical support and the use of certain interventions suggests that some BCBAs might be required to use methods they themselves do not endorse. For instance, only a little more than half of the BCBAs who reported using Sensory Integration as reported that it was an empirically supported treatment. There is also reason to believe that a small number of BCBAs have earned the credential for professional enhancement purposes rather than to demonstrate an adherence to a scientific approach to behavior. Even so, the authors remain concerned about the number of BCBAs who seem to endorse treatments with little or no demonstrated empirical validity. "Unfortunately, BCBAs also appear to be persuaded to use fad treatments because they are easy to use, even though they do not particularly see them as effective in changing behavior" (p. 210).


  • Schreck, K.A. & Mazur, A. (2008). Behavior analyst use of the and belief in treatments for people with autism. Behavioral Interventions, 23(3), 201-212


Call for Papers: Education and Treatment of Children Special Issue on Video Modeling

Education and Treatment of Children Journal CoverVideo Modeling (VM) refers to a popular instructional strategy involving presentation of video footage depicting accurate completion of a task followed by an opportunity to complete the task.  This strategy has been used effectively with many populations including children and individuals with special needs and a recent review (Bellini & Akullian, 2007) documents the extensiveness of the literature supporting the effects of VM with children with autism.  Although VM is clearly an effective intervention, there has not been extensive examination of several important experimental questions relevant to VM.  Education and Treatment of Children invites authors to submit manuscripts for a special issue on video modeling.  Manuscripts are sought that examine the differential effects of video modeling compared to other interventions, comparisons of different types or components of video models (e.g., self/other, point of view/scene), examinations of factors that contribute to the effectiveness of VM (e.g., video as a preferred medium, differential levels of attending), investigations in which video modeling proved ineffective with some examination of why, or other papers related to video modeling.  Authors are invited to submit manuscripts electronically or to contact the Guest Editor, Linda LeBlanc, at linda.a.leblanc@gmail.com



  • Bellini, S. & Akullian, J. (2007). A meta-analysis of video modeling and video self-modeling interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Exceptional Children, 73, 261-284.

New quantitative meta-analysis by BAAM members shows non-contingent reinforcement (NCR) to be an empirically supported treatment for problem behavior.
Behavior News 05-09-2008

Picture of Jamie SevertsonA new review of 59 studies of non-contingent reinforcement (NCR), "Noncontingent Reinforcement is an Empirically Supported Treatment for Problem Behavior Exhibited by Individuals with Developmental Disabilities," by BAAM members Jamie Severtson, James Carr, and Tracy Lepper of Western Michigan University to be published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities, shows NCR to be an empirically supported treatment according to standards established by the Task Force on the Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures. NCR is a fixed-time (FT) or variable-time (VT) reinforcement procedure in which likely reinforcers are delivered periodically regardless of the behavior of the individual. In applied practice, NCR is usually combined with extinction (the removal of reinforcers thought to maintain the problem behavior) and other procedures.* (Photo Left: Jamie Severtson)

In contrast to some previous narrative and qualitative analyses of the effectiveness of NCR, Severtson, Carr, and Lepper applied an objective set of ratings to the articles they examined. Of the original 59 studies chosen, they found that 24 studies met the basic inclusion criteria. The analysis of those 24 showed that NCR consisting of FT reinforcer delivery, extinction, and response-thinning could be classified as "well-established;" NCR consisting of FT or VT reinforcement and extinction could be considered "probably efficacious."

It should be noted that the inclusion criteria were quite stringent, and excluded studies that had not included an experimental functional analysis of likely reinforcers. Thus, a number of NCR studies with valid experimental designs and strong treatment effects were excluded from the analysis.


*NCR works by adding reinforcers to the behavioral context, thereby making the rate of reinforcement for the problem behavior proportionally less than it had been. The probability of the problem behavior is thus reduced. When reinforcement for the problem behavior is also eliminated, the problem behavior is further reduced in probability.

B.F. Skinner's classic Science and Human Behavior available as free download for personal use from the B.F. Skinner Foundation.
Behavior News 05-08-2008

The B.F. Skinner Foundation has made Skinner's classic Science and Human Behavior available as a free PDF download for personal use. Published in 1953, Science and Human Behavior was Skinner's third book on behavior analysis. Skinner applied behavioral principles to the analysis of human behavior at all levels, from individual responses to basic stimuli, to private behavior such as thinking and dreaming, to social and cultural behavior.

Science and Human Behavior is rightly considered one of the foundational works of behavior analysis, and served as the introduction to the science of behavior for an entire generation of behavior analysts. It is indispensable reading for all modern behavior analysts as well. Those who believe behavior analysis is unconcerned with the depth and breadth of human behavior will likely be surprised by the scope and prescience of Skinner's analysis. A half-a-century of research in basic and applied behavior analysis has only strengthened the empirical foundations of what in 1953 was substantially theoretical.

Related Links:

New review of twenty-five autism treatment studies shows Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is more effective and better researched than other approaches.
Behavior News 05-06-2008

A new review of twenty-five treatment outcome studies to be published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities shows that comprehensive autism treatments based on applied behavior analysis (ABA) principles are superior in effectiveness to treatments based on the TEACCH or Colorado Health Science models. Treatment models other than ABA have also received comparatively little attention from researchers, leading to the conclusion that they cannot be deemed either "Well-Established" or "Probably Efficacious."

Svein EikesethStudy author Svein Eikeseth of Akershus University College in Lillestrom, Norway and the Nova Institute for Children with Developmental Disorders (NOVA Instituttet for Barn Utviklingsforstyrrelser) examined 20 studies of ABA treatment, three of TEACCH, and two of the Colorado model. To be included in the analysis, each study needed to (1) be published in a peer-review journal, (2) be aimed at children younger than seven years at intake, (3) include outcome data, and (4) examine treatments aimed at addressing all three core deficits of autism.

Eikeseth graded each study according to its scientific merit and magnitude of treatment effect on a rigorously defined three-point scale (1=highest; 3=lowest). Five studies, all ABA-based treatments, achieved Level 1 or 2 scores of scientific merit. Eleven studies received a score of 3 on scientific merit--nine of which evaluated ABA and two evaluated TEACCH. Nine studies were deemed to have "insufficient scientific value" (ISV). Six of the ISV studies evaluated ABA, one evaluated TEACCH, and two investigated the Colorado program.

Outcome analyses showed that four ABA studies received Level 1 ratings of treatment effectiveness. A Level 1 outcome rating indicated that "children receiving ABA made significantly more gains than control group children on standardized measures of IQ, language and adaptive functioning." Three ABA studies received Level 2 ratings. Level 3 ratings were achieved by two TEACCH and five ABA studies. The rest of the studies did not have sufficiently well described procedures or outcomes to evaluate.

Eikeseth's analysis demonstrates that ABA remains the only comprehensive approach to autism that can claim to be effective based of high-quality outcome data. Eikeseth points out that only three of the many comprehensive autism treatment approaches have been subjected to any kind of rigorous analysis. Thus, many children are being treated in programs of entirely unknown effectiveness. The difficulty of establishing long-term effectiveness is recognized. But that fact does not mean that shorter-term assessments are not possible--with the possibility that children in programs that are not effective after a reasonable period might be moved to a more effective intervention.


Reference Minor IconReference Miner 3.0 simplifies PubMed searches for behavior analysts.
Behavior News 05-05-2008

Free Reference Miner 3.0 from Sonny Software searches PubMed, Library of Congress, Amazon, and other sources for scientific and book information.   The current release includes drag-and-drop download of PDFs, web page display for PubMed and Amazon.  Those interested in behavior analysis will find Reference Miner's PubMed search feature especially helpful for finding articles in back issues of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB) and the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA).  Access to full-text JEAB and JABA back issues is free. Reference Miner 3.0 is only available for Macintosh OS X.  An institutional subscription may be required for access to paid reference services.

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Police scandal revealed in dismissed FC abuse case. Coercion and deception improperly used in interrogation of 13-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome.
Behavior News 03-16-2008; updated 03-17-2008

Recent Developments

Highlights & Details

  • Lies and coercion used by police interrogator against 13-year-old brother with Asperger's.
  • Boy told of non-existent tapes of sexual activity during questioning.
  • Police question Asperger's brother without parents or attorney present.
  • Judge dismisses all charges against both parents.
  • Prosecutors move to dismiss all charges; do not inform defense.
  • Prosecution claims girl says, through facilitation, that she will not testify.
  • FC completely fails two in-court tests.
  • All experts, including FC advocate, agree accusations unreliable.
  • Police ignore warnings to guard against facilitator influence during questioning.
  • Judge rejects a hearing on the scientific admissibility of FC testimony.
  • Paper: Prosecution conducting "witchhunt."
Just days following the dismissal of all charges against parents accused of sexually abusing their daughter, news sources are revealing previously unreported details of the coercive interrogation of the girl's brother with Asperger's syndrome.


In an extensive interrogation, a police officer lied to the boy, saying the police had videotapes of sexual encounters and other physical evidence proving the allegations that the father had assaulted the daughter. No such videotapes or evidence existed. The boy initially resisted the questioning. But after repeated threats and false statements from the police interrogator, the boy began making up bizarre reports of sexual activities denied by all others in the case. This interrogation occurred without the knowledge of the child's court-appointed guardian, and without parents or attorneys present.

The boy's questioning occurred shortly after the police questioned the daughter about abuse through the discredited technique facilitated communication. Despite numerous verifiable errors in the allegations, and no independent evidence of abuse, the parents were charged of rape, abuse, and witness tampering. No attempt was made by the school, police, or prosecutor to test the validity of the girl's original facilitated accusations or any of those made later by the same facilitator. Based on false facilitated allegations of guns at the parents' house and an unauthorized visit by the parents to the children at the Rabbi/guardian's home, the father was placed in prison for 80 days, the mother was placed on an electronic tether, and the children were removed. Despite court authorization, the mother was not given the opportunity to visit the son for several weeks. (See Behavior News 03-11-08)

In a January hearing, FC critics and an FC advocate agreed that the FC accusations could not be trusted. The experts cited factors such as the poor training of the facilitator, the scientific evidence against FC, and many verifiable errors throughout the accusations.

Despite a favorable decision by the judge to allow the facilitated testimony into the record, the prosecution's case began to fall apart in a January hearing when FC failed to produce a single correct answer in two separate in-court tests. In these tests, the facilitators had not been allowed to hear the simple questions asked of the girl. The facilitators had claimed they could successfully facilitate without hearing the questions. Defense experts James T. Todd and Howard Shane had testified that scientific evidence showed that FC involves complete control of the output by the facilitators, and had predicted that FC would fail in court when the facilitators did not know the questions.(See Behavior News 02-11-08)

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Other news coverage

Information and commentary on FC:

It is BAAM's official position that the accumulated scientific evidence has convincingly demonstrated that facilitated communication does not work as its advocates say it does, and that output from FC should never be used to support allegations of sexual abuse.

Read and sign the BAAM Resolution on Facilitated Communication

Other FC Resolutions and Statements

All charges dropped in facilitated communication abuse case.
Behavior News 03-11-2008

In a hearing conducted Tuesday morning (03-11-08), Oakland County Michigan District Judge Marc Barron agreed to dismiss all charges against an Bloomfield Hills Michigan couple accused of sexual abuse and witness tampering through the discredited autism intervention, facilitated communication.

In facilitated communication, a "facilitator" typically holds the hand or arm of a person who cannot speak, supposedly to prevent impulsive movements, thereby allowing typed communication.

In a surprise development on Monday (3-10-08), prosecutors moved to dismiss all charges without informing the defense. The prosecution claimed that the girl with severe autism at the center of the case had expressed, through facilitation, that she was not willing to testify in court. Oakland County Chief Prosecutor David Gorcyca wrote, "The option of alternative proofs have been fully evaluated and found to be not legally sufficient to sustain the requisite burden of proof."

Defense experts had stated in a January hearing that overwhelming scientific evidence shows that messages authored through facilitated communication are authored by the facilitator, not the person with autism.

Based on the original allegations, the father had been placed in jail from early December to late February with no bond. The mother had been placed on an electronic tether. The children had been removed, and the mother afforded only very limited opportunities to visit the son.

In a January hearing, FC critics and an FC advocate agreed that the FC accusations could not be trusted. The experts cited factors such as the poor training of the facilitator, the scientific evidence against FC, and many verifiable errors throughout the accusations. These errors included misidentified and non-existent family members, and religious statements inconsistent with the family's Jewish faith. The family's orthodox Rabbi had vigorously disputed allegations that the parents had visited the children in his home in defiance of court orders.

The prosecution's case suffered additional difficulties in the January hearing when FC failed to produce a single correct answer in two separate tests. In these tests, the facilitators had not been allowed to hear the simple questions asked of the girl. The facilitators had testified that it was not necessary to hear the questions to "facilitate" successfully. Defense experts had testified that scientific evidence showed that FC involves complete control of the output by the facilitators, and had predicted that FC would fail when the facilitators could not hear the questions.

Prosecution moves to drop all charges in facilitated communication abuse case. Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 11.
Behavior News 03-11-2008

In a surprise development on Monday (3-10-08), Oakland County Michigan prosecutors moved to dismiss all abuse and witness tampering charges in an case involving allegations produced using the discredited autism intervention technique, facilitated communication. In facilitated communication, a "facilitator" typically holds the hand or arm of a person who cannot speak, supposedly to prevent impulsive movements, thereby allowing typed communication. In Monday filings, the prosecution claimed that the girl with severe autism at the center of the case had expressed, through facilitation, that she was not willing to testify in court. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that messages authored through facilitated communication are authored by the facilitator, not the person with autism. Defense experts had testified that the girl had virtually no expressive verbal ability and estimated non-verbal cognitive abilities in the 2-3 year-old range. Prosecutors stated that without the girl's testimony there is insufficient evidence to proceed with the case. Oakland County Chief Prosecutor David Gorcyca wrote, "The option of alternative proofs have been fully evaluated and found to be not legally sufficient to sustain the requisite burden of proof."

Based on the original allegations, the father had been placed in jail from early December to late February with no bond. The mother had been placed on an electronic tether. The children had been removed, and the mother afforded only very limited opportunities to visit the son. In an important reversal, the father had been released from jail on personal bond in late February. In an additional reversal of previous rulings, Oakland County Judge Joan Young ordered that the girl and her brother, who has Asperger's syndrome, be returned to the parents immediately.

In a January hearing, FC critics testifying for the defense and an FC advocate testifying for the prosecution had all agreed that the accusations accepted by the court could not be trusted. The experts cited factors such as the poor training of the facilitator, the total absence of any protection against facilitator control in generating the allegations, overwhelming scientific evidence showing that facilitators unconsciously control the FC output, and many verifiable errors and inconsistencies throughout the accusations themselves. These errors included misidentified and non-existent family members, misspellings that had not appeared in other FC transcripts, and religious statements inconsistent with the family's Jewish faith. The family's orthodox Rabbi had vigorously disputed allegations that the parents had visited the children in his home in defiance of court orders.

In a dramatic courtroom moment, the prosecution's expert witness, an FC advocate who had already agreed with the defense experts in repudiating the prosecution's contentions about the reliability of the accusations, revealed that she had called the police prior to their interview of the child and facilitator. She had warned of the problem of facilitator control and suggested protective protocols. Her advice was rejected. In a separate development, it was also revealed that the thirteen year-old brother was interviewed early in the case without the guardian's knowledge, and without parents or an attorney present.

The prosecution's case suffered additional difficulties in the January hearing when FC failed to produce a single correct answer in two tests conducted on two different days. In these tests, the facilitators had not been allowed to hear the simple questions asked of the girl. The facilitators had testified that it was not necessary to hear the questions to successfully "facilitate" successfully. Before and after the failed demonstrations, defense experts had testified that scientific evidence showed that FC involves complete control of the output by the facilitators, and that FC reliably fails when the facilitators cannot hear the questions or do not know the answers.

A hearing to rule on the prosecution's dismissal request is scheduled for 10 am Tuesday (3-11) in front of Bloomfield Hills District Judge Marc Barron.

New Journal: Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
March 7, 2008: source: EBCAI

EBCAI Cover photoInforma Healthcare is pleased to announce the launch of Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention - a new international journal under the joint editorship of Dr. Ralf W. Schlosser, Professor, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Northeastern University, Boston, U.S.A., and Dr. Jeff Sigafoos, Professor, School of Education, The University of Tasmania, Australia.

Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention (EBCAI) brings together professionals from several disciplines to promote evidence-based practice (EBP) in serving individuals with communication impairments. We target speech-language pathologists, special educators, regular educators, applied behavior analysts, clinical psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists who serve children or adults with communication impairments. We select and appraise the latest and highest quality studies and reviews related to assessment, intervention, diagnosis, and prognosis published across 60+ professional journals in speech-language pathology and related fields. We make these appraisals accessible through value-added structured abstracts that include expert commentary about the quality of the evidence as well as its practical implications. This affords the practitioner a one-stop reading experience to stay on top of research findings in order to facilitate evidence-based decision-making. Researchers and university professors will benefit from access to cutting-edge and clinically relevant studies.

EBCAI also provides a forum for the dissemination of original research and discussion of methodologies and concepts that advance EBP as well as of experiential accounts of relevant stakeholders involved in the EBP process. Please consult the Information for Authors for the specific kinds of submissions EBCAI seeks to publish.


Iceland: The Most Scientific Nation on Earth.
February 25,2008

Iceland FlagWith a higher per-capita number of signatories to BAAM's Resolution on Facilitated Communication than any other country, tiny Iceland earns top honors as BAAM's "Most Scientific Nation on Earth." With a total population of about 313,000, Iceland's 17 signatories to BAAM's resolution supporting science in autism treatment show that the island nation is over 30 times more committed to a science of behavior than any other country, including the United States. These figures suggest that Iceland has the highest per-capita number of behavior analysts of any nation on the planet. Courses in behavior analysis are taught at the University of Iceland and behavioral interventions are becoming increasingly available in Iceland. BAAM is declaring Iceland the "Most Scientific Nation on Earth" because there's no better evidence of a commitment to science generally than a commitment to a science of behavior.


Facilitated Communication Allowed in Court in Michigan, Science Rejected.
February 3, 2008--Behavior News; Updated February 6, 2008; Feb. 19.2008; February 25, 2008

Despite the failure of facilitated communication (FC) to produce a single correct answer in two separate courtroom tests during a two-day special hearing, accusations "facilitated" by a Walled Lake Schools paraprofessional have been admitted in an ongoing Oakland County Michigan sex abuse case.

In a dramatic show of agreement across FC lines, the defense and prosecution experts all stated that the accusations accepted by the court could not be trusted due to factors such as the poor training of the facilitator, the total absence of any protection against facilitator control in generating the allegations, the scientific evidence demonstrating the problem of facilitator control, and many verifiable errors and inconsistencies throughout the accusations themselves. These errors included misidentified family members, non-existent relatives, misspellings that had not appeared in previous FC transcripts, and religious statements inconsistent with the family's Jewish faith. Other incidents in the accusations have been strongly disputed by the family's Rabbi.

The prosecution's expert witness, an FC advocate who had testified to the unreliability of the accusations, revealed that she had called the police prior to their interview of the child and facilitator. She had warned of the problem of facilitator control and suggested protective protocols--including the use of an independent, naive facilitator. Her advice was rejected. It has also been revealed that the thirteen year-old brother, who has the developmental disability Asperger's syndrome, was interviewed in early December by the West Bloomfield police without the guardian's knowledge, and without parents or an attorney present.

After allowing the prosecution to conduct two tests of FC with the child, with the person responsible for the original accusations also facilitating in court, the judge refused to permit the defense experts to conduct any validity tests at all. The judge also denied the defense a Daubert hearing on the scientific admissibility of FC. By doing so, the judge rejected the role of science in determining the reliability of FC as courtroom testimony.

The father, who had been in jail since the beginning of December with no bond, was released on an electronic tether in late February; the mother is also on an electronic tether; the children have been taken away. The facilitator responsible for the original accusations continues to work with the child and served as the de facto FC "interpreter" in court. Circuit court judge Joan Young has ruled that FC can continue with the girl in school--where it has been used for the last three years without being tested for reliability.

Commenting on the lack of physical evidence, repeated failures of FC to work in court, and other significant weaknesses in the case, Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson has described the prosecution's case as a "breathtakingly unprofessional witch hunt."

Todd R. Risley, behavior analysis pioneer, dies of heart surgery complications.
November 7, 2006--Behavior News

Todd Risley PhotoTodd R. Risley, behavior analysis pioneer, died Friday November 2 of complications following bypass and pacemaker surgery. He had recently been released from the Mayo Clinic when he collapsed suddenly in his home in Palmer, Alaska, near Anchorage. Risley received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1966, spent many years in the Department of Human Development and Family Life at the University of Kansas, and was Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Risley contributed to the field of behavior analysis in many different ways. He was best known for his collaboration with Montrose Wolf and Hayden Mess in 1964 on the behavioral treatment of problems associated with autism, "Application of Operant Conditioning Procedures to the Behavior Problems of an Autistic Child--sometimes called the "Dicky Article"--and for the seminal 1968 JABA article, "Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis," with Donald Baer and Montrose Wolf.

It is accurate to say that Wolf, Risley, and Mees's work with Dicky, using reinforcement principles to establish functional independent living skills in a child who probably would not have had them otherwise, set the stage for virtually all systematic applied behavior analytic interventions with autism to follow. The 1968 Baer, Wolf, and Risley article, "Some Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis," literally defined an entire field.

Although Risley will be sorely missed by all those who knew him, his enduring contributions to the science of behavior will continue to benefit untold numbers of people with disabilities.

Behavior Analysis Certification Board programs now nationally accredited

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board's BCBA and BCABA credentialing programs are now accredited by the National Council for Certifying Agencies in Washington, DC. The NCCA is the accreditation body of the National Organization for Competency Assurance.

According to Gerald Shook, Chief Executive Officer of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board,

We believe that attaining this accreditation verifies the high quality of BACB programs and will be instrumental in increasing the recognition of BACB credentials by governmental agencies, insurance carriers, and the public.


The Michigan Psychology Licensing Board decreases requirements for full psychology license applicants and increases requirements for applicants for limited licensure. Other changes made.
December 7, 2006--Behavior News; revised June 1, 2007, September 11, 2007.

The Michigan Psychology Licensing Board has enacted a sweeping list of changes to licensure requirements and other rules for licensed and limited-license psychologists. The new provisions were made effective August 14, 2007, with various provisions becoming active on future dates.

The most important changes are:

  • reducing the number of post-doctoral hours required for full licensure from 4000 to 2000 .
  • requiring that applicants for limited licensure pass the EPPP psychology examination with a score of at least 450. An examination is not now required for limited license psychologists, although continuous doctoral-level supervision is.

The changes enacted for full licensure primarily affect doctoral-level psychologists while the changes enacted for the limited license affect mostly masters-level psychologists.

The effect of the new regulations is to relax the requirements for gaining full licensure and increase the requirements for acquiring limited licensure. There is no increase in privileges for limited-license psychologists or practice-parity with other mental health professionals with similar or less training in psychological assessment and treatment.

Among the changes which would go into effect in 2009 and 2010 are to:

  • require an applicant for licensure as a limited licensed psychologist to take and pass a national licensing examination, as of June 30, 2010. Limited license applicants must earn a score of at least 450 on the psychology exam; applicants for full licensure must earn a score of at least 500 (R 338.2505a)
  • revise ethics training requirements for individuals who apply for licensure at either the master s degree or doctorate level. Effective June 30, 2009, one graduate course of 3 semester hours (or 5 quarter hours) in scientific and professional ethics would be required (R 338.2506).
  • reduce the number of hours of postdoctoral experience that an applicant for licensure as a psychologist must obtain. Applicants for full licensure would be required to have 2000 hours of post-doctoral experience, one-half of the 4000 hours currently required. the number of post-degree hours for limited license applicants remains unchanged at 2000 hours. The 2000 hours must be completed in two years (R 338.2506)
  • permit a limited licensed psychologist to request from the Board of Psychology a variance from the supervision requirements. In cases of hardship, extensions of time periods for post-degree hours may be considered by the the Licensing Board.
  • adopt designation criteria of the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology for doctoral programs.
  • clarify and update regulations pertaining to advertising. Simplifies some rules with respect to advertising and specifies how limited license psychologists might be identified in advertising (R 338.2514).
  • Add a new rule to specify activities between a licensee and a client that will be considered prohibited conduct in a professional relationship. Attempts to clarify prohibited conduct, especially with reference to multiple relationships (R 338.2515)
  • Add a new rule to address the retention, disposition, and confidentiality of client records. Client records must be preserved for a minimum of seven years. Confidentiality must be assured unless provided by law or following a client's written authorization (R 338.2516).

Related References:

Albert Ellis, developer of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) dies at age 93.
July 24, 2007--www.albertellis.org

Albert Ellis (September 27, 1913 - July 24, 2007) died today of natural causes related to age (obituary). Ellis is known for developing "Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy" (REBT), an approach in which certain psychological problems are attributed to faulty thinking and emotional responses to life events. By therapeutically altering the troublesome thinking and emotions, the client may subsequently respond in more effective ways. In this view, Ellis considered thinking and feelings as private events that could be aversive to experience in themselves or lead, as links in a chain of behaviors, to dysfunctional overt behavior.

Ellis's basic philosophy, that the past cannot be changed but our responses to it can be, bears similarities to the philosophy of Stoicism. Ellis also recognized certain similarities between REBT and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), viewing ACT with apparently more favor than ACT practitioners viewed REBT. In a 2005 article, "Can Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Resolve Their Differences and Be Integrated?" (abstract), Ellis disagreed with ACT founder Steven C. Hayes (abstract) and stated:

My own view is that ACT and REBT significantly overlap in their theory and practice and that they can be successfully integrated if both therapies make some changes. (Abstract)


Spanish language version of "ABCs of ABA" released as a two-DVD freeware-set by FEAT-Houston and TXABA
July 10, 2007--www.feathouston.org

Families for Effective Autism Treatment-Houston (FEAT-Houston) has partnered with the Texas Association of Behavior Analysts Autism Special Interest Group (TxABA-SIG) to offer a low cost, high quality, six hour intensive, hands-on training for parents, teachers, and therapists interested in learning the basic principles of applied behavior analysis for use with their children with autism or other disabilities.

FEAT-Houston invited Dr. Carlos Fernando Aparicio Naranjo to present the "ABC's" workshop in Spanish. Dr. Aparicio received his doctorate in psychology from the University of New Hampshire. He is a professor at the University of Guadalajara where he works at the Research Center for Behavioral Studies. The two set DVD is the professional recording of that ABC's workshop he presented.


The DVDs are free, but FEAT-Houston suggests a $20 donation so that we may reprint the DVDs when they have all been distributed.http://udgserv.cencar.udg.mx/~ceip/Aparicio.htmrders may be placed through the FEAT-Houston website. www.feathouston.org.

Software giant Microsoft, building supplier Home Depot, cover costs of behavioral treatments for autism.
May 11, 2007--SmartMoney.com

Microsoft, which sells the Windows operating system, and Home Depot, the familiar "big box" hardware and building supplies outlet, cover the costs of intensive behavior therapy for their employees' dependents with autism. Persuaded by the documented success of applied behavior analysis-based treatments for autism, these employers started providing substantial treatment benefits several years ago. They are among the few major employers that provide such benefits to their employees.

Parent advocacy was instrumental in getting the ball rolling. Behavior analysts at the University of Washington, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Marcus Institute provided expertise for program development. The stories at Microsoft and Home Depot are similar. As reported on May 8, 2007 on the SmartMoney.com web site:

"[Microsoft] worked extensively with the University of Washington's autism center to get an understanding of the condition, the types of treatment available, which showed the most promise"...The university provided background on Applied Behavioral Analysis, a type of behavior therapy for autism that has proven successful in many clinical studies. Once Microsoft decided ABA would be worth covering, the school helped the company design a benefit plan around the treatment.

Home Depot eventually was persuaded by unhappy employees to look more deeply into the issue of autism. Connally and her staff consulted various research centers that specialize in the treatment of children and adolescents with developmental disabilities...Home Depot eventually fashioned a package of autism benefits that was essentially written by medical experts from the Marcus Institute and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a treatment and research center in Baltimore. (SmartMoney.com, May 8, 2007)

Few other companies or insurers provide the kind of support for effective autism treatments that Microsoft and Home Depot do. These examples suggest that this situation can be changed by strong advocacy within the corporation along with the assistance of knowledgeable behavior analysts. From the perspective of the company, support for well-done early intensive therapy has significant long-term financial benefits, can reduce employee absenteeism, and has significant social benefits (cost-benefit analysis).

Related links:


Your Blackberry: Conditioned social reinforcement dispenser.
April 22, 2007--New York Timers

According to James E. Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Computing at Rutgers University , the almost obsessive addiction exhibited by some PDA users results from the device being a source of variable-interval conditioned social reinforcement:

Mr. Katz argues that participation gives people a sense of belonging, one traceable to the atavistic desire to congregate and cooperate for safety and survival. In addition, he said, the constant checking is an exercise in optimism, like being an explorer or a gambler. Eternal hope delivered in tiny bits while you’re on the go.

“It’s random reinforcement,” Mr. Katz said. The fact that you don’t know when important news will come, he said, “means you will quickly engage in obsessive compulsive behavior.” (New York Times ; registration required)

A variable-interval schedule, in which reinforcement becomes available at unpredictable intervals, maintains a steady rate of responding. There is nothing in the schedule to indicate when reinforcement might become more available or less available, so responding occurs at an even pace. Responding will continue even during long periods of non-reinforcement. On fixed schedule, such as a fixed-ratio schedule (where the reinforcer comes after a specific number of reinforcers), the delivery of a reinforcer will cause a pause in responding because the reinforcer indicates that another reinforcer is not immediately forthcoming. The high predictability of fixed schedules means that responding will stop fairly soon after reinforcers stop.

Relevant Articles:

  • "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Ping" (New York Times ; registration required)
  • Reinforcement Schedules (About.com)

Arthur Snapper (1934-2007), computer pioneer and retired Western Michigan University professor, dies.
March 14, 2007--Behavior News

Dr. Arthur (Art) Snapper, a pioneer in the use of computers to run operant labs and a retired professor at Western Michigan University, died on March 12, 2007 after a long fight with cancer. Snapper was known for developing "SKED" software in the 1960s for controlling behavioral experiments based on "state notation." Originally designed for Digital Equipment Company's PDP line of minicomputers, SKED has been adapted for use by modern microcomputers. Elements of SKED can still be seen in Med Associates MED-PC systems and Coulborn Instrument's Graphic State 2 .

There will be a public visitation at Langelands West Side Chapel , 3926 South 9th Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Friday from 5 - 8 pm (Langelands obituary ).

Relevant Articles:

  • Snapper, A.G. & Kadden, R.M. (1973). Time-sharing in a small computer based on a behavioral notation system.  In B. Weiss (Ed.), Digital Computers in the Behavior Laboratory.  New York:  Appleton-Century-Crofts.
  • Stephens, K.R. & van Haaren, F.P. The origins and development of state notation and SKED. Behavior Research Methods and Instrumentation, 1977, 9, 72-74.
  • Wilson, W. J. (2004). Media Review: A Comparison of Two Programs for the Control of Behavioral Experiments. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 2(2):R3-R5 (PDF)

Los Alamos scientists train bees to detect bombs.
November 28, 2006--Los Alamos Laboratory Newsletter

Los Alamos Laboratory Newsletter Front Page Graphic Scientists working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have used basic behavioral techniques to train bees to detect explosives. By using Pavlovian training techniques, pairing the scent of a bomb with sugar, Tim Haarman and his team trained each bee to extend its proboscis when it encountered the odor of a bomb. The proboscis is the long tube through which bees feed. The researchers report that the bees are easier to train than dogs, and are more effective at detecting odors than wasps.

From the Los Alamos Laboratory Newsletter:

By studying and training bees, Haarmann and members of the Los Alamos Stealthy Insect Sensor Project team has been able to harness the honeybees exceptional olfactory sense by using the bees natural reaction to nectar, a proboscis extension reflex (sticking out their tongue) to record an unmistakable response to a scent. Using Pavlovian techniques, researchers were able to train the bees to give a positive detection (full text PDF )

Related Links:

  • New Homeland Security Buzz:Bomb Sniffing Bees (CNN)
  • Clicker-trained dogs taught to detect lung cancer. (Behavior News )
  • Sniffer dogs used to detect bombs in London subways. (Behavior News Archive )
  • Clicker trained rats sniff out land mines and tuberculosis in Africa (Behavior News )
  • Drug sniffing dogs mistakenly trained using talcum powder instead of cocaine.
    (Behavior News Archive )

Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA) introduces online abstract search feature.
November 26, 2006--Behavior News

The Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA) has introduced an online abstract search feature for its journals, The Behavior Analyst and The Analysis of Verbal Behavior . Users may search by keyword, author name, year, and other parameters. Students, scholars, and others should find the search feature of great value in locating classic articles from these important, hard-to-locate journals.

BAAM upgrades its web server.
October 31, 2006--Behavior News

BAAM has modernized and upgraded its web server. Server speed has been increased 40%, and the speed of server-side processing of forms has been doubled or tripled. Users of high-speed internet services should find the BAAM website more responsive. Other enhancements should improve the transfer of video material and other non-text resources.

Google's Book Search offers full text of classic behavioral books and indexed contents of recent volumes.
August 30, 2006; updated August 31, 2006--Behavior News

Google's new Book Search feature offers full text views and PDF format downloads of thousands of classic books in public domain as well as indexed searches of newer works (CNET Coverage). Contents are viewable in most standard web browsers with Adobe Reader (download).

Readers may view and download the full text of rare volumes such John B. Watson's doctoral dissertation Animal Education (full text ) and his 1914 classic, Behavior: An Introduction to Comparative Psychology (full text ). Other works that were influential in the history of behavior analysis include Edward Thorndike's 1911, Animal Intelligence (full text ) and Jacques Loeb's 1916 Organism as a Whole (full text ).

The contents of many modern works have been indexed and may be searched. For instance, a interested in the behavioral view of private events such as "thinking" and "feeling" can enter the search terms, "behaviorism" and "private events" and see a list of works that contain those terms and read the relevant passages (search results ). A parent interested in works on using applied behavior analysis with autism can enter those terms and see a list of books that contain information on ABA (search results ).

Google's project to digitize works is in its early stages. Searches are not comprehensive because many books have yet to be digitized. Care must be exorcised to distinguish between works that have substantive content about the search terms and those that merely include them somewhere in the text. Entering the terms "behaviorism private events thinking feeling" returns a series of mostly relevant books on the behavior analytic view of private events --but not the two most important classic texts: Skinner's 1953 Science and Human Behavior and 1974 About Behaviorism. Entering "verbal behavior" does not return Skinner's Verbal Behavior . Some technical glitches remain in the system. Even though the system is generally compatible with Windows and Macintosh operating systems, full text downloads did not work properly using the Safari browser on some Macintosh computers. Even with the early problems, Google's effort should prove very useful to students, parents, academics, and others who previously did not have easy access to the classic works of psychology.

Link: Behaviorists' Bookshelf Behavior Classics

BAAM 2007 Call for Papers announced
(BAAM News Archive)
August 29, 2006--Behavior News

Help with the dentist: New study shows benefits of "non-contingent escape" for children with behavior problems at the dentist .
(BAAM News Archive)
August 29, 2006--Behavior News

The Western Michigan University Clinical Psychology and Industrial Psychology Programs have been spared from proposed program cuts.
July 8, 2006--Behavior News

The Western Michigan University programs in Clinical Psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology have been spared from planned program cuts following an appeals process. Both programs had been slated for elimination by Western Michigan University's President and Provost. Outcry over the proposed cuts led to the creation of an appeals process ( coverage ) and the resignation of the Provost ( coverage ).

After successful appeals, the Clinical Psychology program was retained without condition ( summary ). The Industrial-Organizational program was retained with conditions ( summary ). In a July 8, 2006 story announcing the appeals decisions, the Kalamazoo Gazette noted the very strong support for their programs by the students and faculty of the Western Michigan University Psychology Department.

Professors and students in the psychology department were among the most active in contending that based on research productivity, reputation and financial and other factors, their programs -- clinical psychology and industrial/organizational psychology, particularly -- should not have been cut in the first place. (Gazette Article )

Full coverage of the proposal to cut the Clinical and Industrial/Organizational Psychology programs at Western Michigan University and the successful appeals of those cuts can be found at wmupsy.com

Related News

Colombian Association for the Advancement of the Science of Behavior and The Colombian Association for the Welfare of the Family announce new journal: 
June 29, 2006--Behavior News

Cover of journal Infancia Adolescencia y FamiliaBehavior analysis continues its strong growth in Latin America as evidenced by the announcement of a new Spanish language journal with English language abstracts, Infancia Adolescencia y Familia (Infancy, Adolescence, and the Family ).  This new journal is jointly published by the Colombian Association for the Advancement of the Science of Behavior (ABA Colombia) and the Colombian Association for the Welfare of the Family (ICBF Spanish ; ICBF English).   From the journal announcement:

It is with great pleasure that we present the premier issue of the new journal, Infancy, Adolescence, and Family, which is jointly published by the Colombian Association Association for the Advancement of the Science of Behavior (Colombian ABA) and the Colombian Institute for the Welfare of the Family (ICBF).  We invite you to visit our website where you will find the complete journal contents available for free in PDF format, as well as information about subscriptions and manuscript submissions: http://www.revistaiaf.abacolombia.org.co/

If you wish to continue to receive information about the journal (e.g., future issues, notices, etc.) please write at: 

Colombia ABA address

Wilson López López

(Translation: J. Todd)

Update: Fake New Jersey behavior therapist is indicted for impersonating nurse.
May 14, 2006; updated May 17--Behavior News

Nancy Fisher of Manahawkin and Stafford New Jersey, who had been previously charged for theft by deception for claiming false behavior analysis credentials, has now been indicted for impersonating a licensed nurse. Fisher, who sometimes used the name, "Chatsko," provided personal services to a man with paraplegia and fraudulently collected over $215,000 for her work as a nurse, eventually rising to the position of supervisor. She was also charged for collecting over $14,000 to send her child to an out-of-district school.

BAAM has previously reported on Fisher's claims to hold a Ph.D. and credentials from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. (Behavior News )

Related Links:

March 23, 2006 proclaimed "Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan 20th Anniversary Day" by Mayor of Ypsilanti.
(Behavior News Archive)
March 23, 2006--Behavior News

New study shows importance of giving reinforcer choices to children.
March 18, 2006--Behavior News

A new research study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis shows that giving a choice between potential reinforcers is itself reinforcing for children.

In "An Evaluation of the Value of Choice with Preschool Children," Jeffery Tiger, Gregory Hanley, and Emma Hernandez of the University of Kansas used a concurrent-chains procedure to answer three questions about choice making: (1) Is the opportunity to make a choice more reinforcing than not having the opportunity to make a choice? (2) Does increasing the number of choices increase the reinforcing value of the choice? And (3), how reinforcing is choice relative to response effort, as tested by increasing the amount of work required to make the choice?

The study included six preschool children between 2.5 and 5.5 years old, one with autism. The reinforcers consisted of a variety of small sweet and salty snack items. In various phases of the study, the children were given the opportunity to choose from a selection of reinforcers or just a single reinforcer. With few exceptions, (1) a choice of reinforcers was more reinforcing than no choice, (2) including more choices was more reinforcing than fewer choices, and (3) choice was preferred over no-choice even when much more effort was required to gain again access to the choice. According to the researchers:

Regarding the practical implications of this study, the results suggest that providing the opportunity to choose reinforcers is a means of increasing the effectiveness of differential reinforcement. Along with restricting access to programmed reinforcers items outside treatment times (Vollmer & Iwata, 1991) and varying the delivery of items (Bowman, Piazza, Fisher, Hagopian, & Kogan, 1997; Egel, 1981), providing a choice among multiple reinforcers is a simple, quick, and inexpensive means of further increasing the effectiveness of reinforcers. (p. 15)

Several previous studies have shown the reinforcing effectiveness of choice in both humans and non-humans. The classic study in non-humans is Catania and Sagvolden's 1980 study, "Preference for Free Choice Over Forced Choice in Pigeons," in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (BAAM Behavior Q & A ). An important early study in children is Brigham and Sherman's 1973, "Effects of Choice and Immediacy of Reinforcement on Single Response and Switching Behavior of Children" (also in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior; full text, pdf ). As a practical matter, the importance of reinforcer variation and choice has been emphasized by applied behavior analysts for decades (e.g., the "Reinforcer Variation Rule from Allyon and Azrin's The Token Economy; BAAM Behavioral Essentials ). However, studies using humans have not been as carefully controlled as those with non-humans. This new study is important in that it carefully controlled the variables involved in choice making in children. By doing so, this study demonstrated how an important behavioral process operates across species and showed the importance of giving choices between different kinds of reinforcers when working with children.


Tiger, J.H., Hanley, G.P., & Hernandez, E. (2006). An evaluation of the value of choice with preschool children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 39, 1-16.(full text, pdf )

Related references:

  • Bannerman, D. J., Sheldon, J. B., Sherman, J. A., & Harchik, A. E. (1990). Balancing the right to habilitation with the right to personal liberties: The rights of people with developmental disabilities to eat too many doughnuts and take a nap. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 23 , 79-89. (full text, pdf )
  • Bowman, L. G., Piazza, C. C., Fisher, W. W., Hagopian, L. P., & Kogan, J. S. (1997). Assessment of preference for varied versus constant reinforcers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30, 451c458.(full text, pdf )
  • Brigham, T. A., & Sherman, J. A. (1973). Effects of choice and immediacy of reinforcement on single response and switching behavior of children. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 19, 425c435.(full text, pdf )
  • Catania, A. C., & Sagvolden, T. (1980). Preference for free choice over forced choice in pigeons. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 34 , 77c86. (full text, pdf )
  • Dunlap, G., dePerczel, M., Clarke, S., Wilson, D.,Wright, S., White, R., et al. (1994). Choice making to promote adaptive behaviors for students with emotional and behavioral challenges. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27 , 505c518.(full text, pdf )
  • Dyer, K., Dunlap, G., & Winterling, V. (1990). The effects of choice making on the problem behaviors of students with severe handicaps. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 23, 515c524.(full text, pdf )
  • Egel, A. L. (1981). Reinforcer variation: Implications for motivating developmentally disabled children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 345c350.(full text, pdf )
  • Powell, S., & Nelson, B. (1997). Effects of choosing academic assignments on a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30 , 181c183.(full text, pdf )
  • Vollmer, T. R., & Iwata, B. A. (1991). Establishing operations and reinforcement effects. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24, 279c291.(full text, pdf )

Michigan psychology licensing and practice rules and regulations now available on the BAAM website.
March 4, 2006--Behavior news

Links to Michigan licensing, practice, and supervision rules and regulations have been collected on a single page on the BAAM website (Michigan rules and regulations ).

All those providing psychological services in Michigan should be familiar with these rules and regulations. "Behavior modification" procedures are among the many techniques considered to be psychological services in Michigan.

BAAM introduces online reinforcement schedule demonstrations.
March 4, 2006--Behavior news

BAAM has developed and posted a series of web-based demonstrations of simple reinforcement schedules. Available immediately are demonstrations of five different reinforcement schedules: fixed-ratio, fixed-interval, variable-ratio, variable-interval, and progressive-ratio. All schedules have user-settable parameters and produce a real-time cumulative recording of responding.


Now Available


These demonstrations use Adobe/Macromedia Shockwave technology, and can be run on all standard web browsers on Macintosh and Windows systems. Some users might need to download a free web browser plug-in.

BAAM plans to post additional reinforcement schedules and other interactive demonstrations as they are created.

2006 Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA) convention program now online
(Behavior News Archive)
February 13, 2006--Association for Behavior Analysis

James Randi talk at Eastern Michigan cancelled for health reasons.
(Behavior News Archive )
February 7, 2006--JREF; Updated March 16, 2006

BAAM increases web server speed
(Behavior News Archive )
February 4, 2006--Behavior News

Back issues of major behavior analysis journals, JEAB and JABA, now available online through PubMed Central.
January 29, 2006--Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

Back issues of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) and the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB) are being made freely available online through PubMed Central in HTML and PDF formats. These back issues will be a very valuable resource for students, instructors, applied behavior analysts, and anyone else interested in original research, reviews, and commentary in behavior analysis. Many of the classic and foundational articles of behavior analysis are being made freely available to the public for the first time.

JABA, founded in 1968, is the premier outlet for research articles, reviews, and commentary in the field of applied behavior analysis. JEAB, founded in 1958, is the original behavior analysis journal. After almost 50 years, JEAB remains the top journal for basic research in the experimental analysis of behavior.


PubMed Central (PMC) is part of the NIH's National Library of Medicine . PMC is a free digital archive of journals in the biomedical and life sciences. Scanning of JEAB back issues is ongoing;scanning of JABA is complete.

Related links:

Clicker-trained dogs taught to detect lung cancer.
January 20, 2006--Integrated Cancer Therapies

A new study in the journal Integrated Cancer Therapies claims that dogs, trained using the "clicker training " method, could detect lung cancer with 99% accuracy and breast cancer with 88% accuracy by sniffing the breath of patients. The authors of the study used standard double-blind methods to reduce the possibility of experimenter expectations biasing the results, and included other controls to enhance the accuracy and validity of the results. From the abstract:

The authors used a food reward-based method of training 5 ordinary household dogs to distinguish, by scent alone, exhaled breath samples of 55 lung and 31 breast cancer patients from those of 83 healthy controls. A correct indication of cancer samples by the dogs was sitting/lying in front of the sample. A correct response to control samples was to ignore the sample. The authors first trained the dogs in a 3-phase sequential process with gradually increasing levels of challenge. Once trained, the dogs' ability to distinguish cancer patients from controls was then tested using breath samples from subjects not previously encountered by the dogs. The researchers blinded both dog handlers and experimental observers to the identity of breath samples. The diagnostic accuracy data reported were obtained solely from the dogs' sniffing, in double-blinded conditions, of these breath samples obtained from subjects not previously encountered by the dogs during the training period....Among lung cancer patients and controls, overall sensitivity of canine scent detection compared to biopsy-confirmed conventional diagnosis was 0.99....Among breast cancer patients and controls, sensitivity was 0.88...and specificity 0.98. (abstract)

Clicker training was developed by B.F. Skinner in the mid-1940s, and first described in a 1951 Scientific American article, "How to Teach Animals." In clicker training, a noise, usually from a hand clicker, is repeatedly associated with food using Pavlovian or Classical conditioning. Through Pavlovian conditioning, the click becomes a conditioned reinforcer. The click is then used to reinforce the correct responses. The advantage of using a the click over giving food alone is that the click can be presented the instant the correct response is made. Immediate presentation of the click significantly increases its effectiveness as a reinforcer and ensuring that only the correct response is reinforced. Clicker training in now closely associated with the ethologist, writer, and animal trainer, Karen Pryor (Clickertraiming.com)

Full reference:

McCulloch, M., Jezierski, T., Broffman, M., Hubbard, A., Turner, A., & Janecki , T. (2006) Diagnostic accuracy of canine scent detection in early- and late-stage lung and breast cancers, Integrated Cancer Therapies, 5, 1-10. (full article preprint. Available for limited time).

Related links:

  • Dogs Excel on Smell Test to Find Cancer (New York Times; r egisitration required)
  • Can Your Pet Sniff Out Cancer? (MSNBC/MSN/Reuters)
  • Sniffer dogs used to detect bombs in London subways. (Behavior News)
  • Clicker trained rats sniff out land mines and tuberculosis in Africa (Behavior News )
  • Dogs mistakenly trained using talcum powder instead of cocaine (Behavior News)
  • Clicker training used to teach cancer-sniffing dogs.(Behavior News )
  • Auburn University Canine and Detection Research Institute (CDRI)

Canadian study details early behavioral manifestations of autism
November 14, 2005--International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience

A recent study published in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience reports that one-year-children who were later diagnosed with autism showed significant behavioral differences compared to children who were not diagnosed with autism. Children later diagnosed with autism showed a wide variety of unusual reactions including passivity, problems with eye contact, fixation on objects, decreased positive affect, and delayed language. From the abstract:

...we have initiated a longitudinal study of high-risk infants, all of whom have an older sibling diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. Our sample currently includes 150 infant siblings, including 65 who have been followed to age 24 months.We have also followed a comparison group of low-risk infants.Our preliminary results indicate that by 12 months of age,siblings who are later diagnosed with autism may be distinguished from other siblings and low-risk controls on the basis of: (1) several specific behavioral markers, including atypicalities in eye contact, visual tracking, disengagement of visual attention, orienting to name, imitation, social smiling, reactivity, social interest and affect, and sensory-oriented behaviors; (2) prolonged latency to disengage visual attention; (3) a characteristic pattern of early temperament, with marked passivity and decreased activity level at 6 months, followed by extreme distress reactions, a tendency to fixate on particular objects in the environment, and decreased expression of positive affect by 12 months; and (4) delayed expressive and receptive language. (abstract)

This study indicates that subtle signs of autism appear many months or years before diagnoses are typically made, and that these signs might be useful in the early detection of and intervention for autism.

Full Reference:

Zwaigenbaum, L., Bryson, S., Rogers, T., Roberts, W., Brian, J., & Szatmari, P. (2005). Behavioral manifestations of autism in the first year of life. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 23 , 143-152.

Related Links:

International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience

New study shows effectiveness of combined exposure therapy, modeling, and contingent reinforcement for increasing tolerance for skin care products by children with autism.
(Behavior News Archive)
November 6, 2005--Research on Developmental Disabilities


University of California-Santa Barbara Autism Research and Training Center receives $2.3 million gift.
October 31, 2005--UCSB Press release

University of California-Santa Barbara Autism Research and Training Center receives $2.3 million gift from Brian and Patricia Kelly of Santa Barbara (center website ). The UCSB Center, directed by Robert Koegel and Lynn Kern Koegel, specializes in intensive autism treatment based on the "Pivotal Response Training" model. Pivotal response training employs the principles of applied behavior analysis to teach responses believed pivotal to learning other important functional independent living skills (PRT description). The Center will be renamed "The Koegel Autism Center" and will be part of a new Social Sciences and Education building complex (UCSB press release ).

Related links:

New study From Wisconsin Early Autism Project confirms effectiveness of intensive behavioral autism therapy.
October 16, 2005--American Journal of Mental Retardation

A study by Glen Sallows and Tamlynn Graupner of the Wisconsin Early Autism Project shows that 48% of children with autism given intensive behavioral treatment achieved average outcome scores and succeeded in regular education classrooms. Some children received clinic-based treatment while others received treatment by parents supervised by experts. Both groups showed similar outcomes. From the abstract:

Twenty-four children with autism were randomly assigned to a clinic-directed group, replicating the parameters of the early intensive behavioral treatment developed at UCLA, or to a parent-directed group that received intensive hours but less supervision by equally well-trained supervisors. Outcome after 4 years of treatment, including cognitive, language, adaptive, social, and academic measures, was similar for both groups. After combining groups, we found that 48% of all children showed rapid learning, achieved average posttreatment scores, and at age 7, were succeeding in regular education classrooms. Treatment outcome was best predicted by pretreatment imitation, language, and social responsiveness. (abstract)

This study follows-up earlier work conducted by the Wisconsin Early Autism Project. In 1999, Sallows and Graupner showed that intensive behavioral treatment produced an average increase in measured I.Q. of 22 points, and that eight children of 24 children showed an increase in I.Q. of 45 points. Controlled studies of intensive behavioral treatment consistently demonstrate that between 40 and 50% of children with autism can achieve normal levels of functioning, with significant improvement seen in those who do not achieve full benefits (Sallows & Graupner, 1999 ).

Full Reference

Sallows, G.O. & Graupner, T.D. (2005). Intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism: four-year outcome and predictors. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 110 , 417-438.

Related links:

New study demonstrates effectiveness of behavioral stuttering therapy
September 25, 2005--various sources: BBC; British Medical Journal

A study published in the August issue of BMJ (British Medical Journal) demonstrated that the Lidcombe behavioral method of stuttering therapy produced significantly greater improvements in fluency than not treating the condition. In the article, "Randomised Controlled Trial of the Lidcombe Programme of Early Stuttering Intervention," researchers reported that after nine months of treatment, 52% (14 of 27) of children aged 3-6 years in the treatment group stuttered on fewer than 1% of syllables. Only 15% (3 of 20) in the non-treatment control group showed a similar reduction. Stuttering has a spontaneous remission rate of about 70%. This study considerably improved on that result by demonstrating that the children in the experimental group showed a 77% reduction in stuttering compared to 43% in the control group. According to the authors:

After nine months, the reduction of stuttering in the Lidcombe programme group was significantly and clinically greater than natural recovery. The estimated effect size of 2.3% of syllables stuttered is more than double the minimum clinically worthwhile difference specified in the trial protocol. At nine months, the control group had reduced their frequency of stuttering by an average of 43%, presumably from a combination of natural recovery and the ad hoc treatment given to some of the participants. However, only 15% of children in the control arm attained a minimal level of stuttering as defined in the trial protocol. In contrast, the treatment group had reduced their stuttering by 77%, resulting in a mean frequency of 1.5% syllables stuttered. (Full text article )

Traditional approaches to stuttering go back sixty years to the work of Wendall Johnson of the University of Iowa. Johnson and his successors recommended that parents and caretakers not to call attention to stuttering. People who stuttered became fluent, according to Johnson, if they attended more to the anxiety-producing events that supposedly caused the stuttering than to the stuttering itself. The Lidcombe method, in contrast, treats stuttering by directly modifying the stuttering episodes with differential operant reinforcement. Throughout the program, which is conducted in the natural environment, parents or caretakers provide contingent verbal reinforcement for periods in without stuttering. When stuttering occurs, it is verbally acknowledged ("That was a little bumpy") and corrections are requested. The treatment is conducted in two phases. In Phase I, treatment is conducted daily, with weekly visits to a speech therapist. Phase II, in which treatment is withdrawn, starts when stuttering drops below 1% of syllables for three weeks. Predictions from traditional therapists that calling attention to stuttering would produce negative reactions in the children were investigated and found to be misplaced ( abstract).

 Original reference:

Jones, R., Onslow, M., Packman, A., Williams, S., Ormond, T., Schwarz, I., & Gebski, V. (2005). Randomised controlled trial of the Lidcombe programme of early stuttering intervention, BMJ, 331, 659. (PDF; Full Text)

Related Links:

New journal on human research ethics
(Behavior News Archive )
September 17, 2005--various sources: FBPCS News; JERHRE website

BAAM and ABA 2006 Convention Call for Papers Deadlines
(Behavior News Archive )
September 5, 2005

Association for Behavior Analysis Establishes Fellows Program, Solicits Nominations for 2006
(Behavior News Archive)
September 4, 2005--ABA Newsletter

Adding a delay to gearshift operation when seat belts are not fastened increases seat belt use
September 4, 2005

A study published in the summer issue of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis shows that seat belt use increases when non-seat belt users are required to either buckle their seat belts or wait before the car's gearshift lever would operate. The experimenters, led by Ron Van Houten of the Center for Education and Research in Safety (CERS), used a reversal or ABA experimental design in which they first collected data on seat belt use without the delay, then added varying amounts of delay, then returned to the no delay condition. The results showed that the delay was effective, but seat belt usage returned to original low levels when the delay was eliminated. These findings suggest that permanent changes in seat belt usage for some drivers might require permanent installation of a delay or adding a training component to the intervention designed to produce maintenance and generalization of the training. (Abstract of study )

Full Reference:

Van Houten, R., Malenfant, J.E.L., Austin, J., & Lebbon, A. (2005). The effects of a seatbelt-gearshift delay prompt on the seat belt use of motorists who do not regularly wear seat belts. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis , 38, 195-203.

Related Links:

New study examines autism intervention choices
August 30, 2005

A study to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal, Research in Developmental Disabilities, shows that interventions and drugs that have not been demonstrated effective for autism are attempted and used more often than scientifically validated techniques. The University of Texas study, "Internet Survey of Treatments Used by Parents of Children with Autism" (abstract), compiled survey returns from 552 parents submitted over a three-month period in 2004. The parents reported using an average of seven different treatments on their children, with 52% using at least one type of medication. The top choice, reported by 70% of parents, was "speech therapy." "Visual schedules" was used by 43.2% of parents, and "sensory integration was used by 38.2%. Applied behavior analysis was in fourth place, used by 36.4%. The table below, based on figures from the forthcoming article, shows the top ten of over 100 treatment choices:




% now using % used in past

Speech therapy



Visual schedules



Sensory integration



Applied behavior analysis



Social stories



Vitamin C



Vitamin B6



Essential fatty acids



Picture exchange communication



Casein-free diet




Discrete trial therapy, the method with the greatest empirically verified treatment success when applied intensively (Behavior News ), was in 16th place, used by 18.7% of parents.

The choice of speech therapy and visual schedules over more intensive behavior analytic treatments might be due to frequent use of these two techniques in school systems and the greater proportion of children described as having less-severe forms of autism: Asperger's Syndrome (17%), mild- to high-functioning autism (61%), and autism with no speech (22%). Methods currently in the news, facilitated communication and chelation, were used by 9.8 and 7.4% of parents respectively during the survey period. Some of the very unusual treatments reported were "extended breast feeding," used by 0.8% of parents (down from 11.3%), Irlen lenses (1.6%; colored lenses said to resolve perceptual problems), and "Watsu" (0.4%; a form of massage done in water).

The authors of the study conclude:

In summary, our findings showed that parents were using a wide range of treatment options. The most commonly used treatments have varying degrees of empirical support. In addition, the number and types of treatments currently being used by parents varied with the age and type/severity of the child's disability. One implication of these findings is that parents should have ready access to objective and data-based - yet consumer-friendly - information on a range of specific treatments; depending on the age and type/severity of the child's disability.

Given the preliminary nature of this study, there is a need for additional research to understand the decision-making processes that parents use in selecting treatments for their children with autism. Identifying variables that influence the decision-making process should help to inform future efforts focused on promoting greater use of evidence-based practice by parents in the treatment of their children with autism.

Full Reference:

Green, V.A., Pituch, K.A., Itchon, J., Choi, A., O'Reilly, M., & Sigafoos, J. (in press). Internet survey of treatments used by parents of children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities.(abstract)

Boy with autism dies during "chelation therapy."
(Behavior News Archive )
August 24, 2005--various sources; updated August 25, 26, 30, 2005)

New Jersey "autism advocate" charged with faking behavior analysis and other credentials.
(Behavior News Archive)
August 21, 2005--various sources; updated August 27, 2005

BAAM is top "BAAM" on Yahoo and Altavista search engines.
(Behavior News Archive )
August 13, 2005

California study shows intensive behavioral treatments significantly superior to "eclectic" approaches in community-based settings.
August 7, 2005; updated August 13, 2005

A study conducted by a group of California researchers shows that intensive behavioral treatment of autism is superior to "eclectic" or "mixed" approaches. It is common to find people with autism treated simultaneously with several different behavioral and non-behavioral approaches under the assumption that aspects of each of the treatments will help with different aspects of autism. In many cases, unvalidated and ineffective treatments are combined with validated behavioral treatments potentially undermining the effectiveness of effort as a whole.

The California study found that intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was a substantially more effective treatment for a group of preschool children with autism than the mixture of methods that is provided in many education and treatment programs. ABA emphasizes breaking skills down into small parts and building them systematically through repetition and positive reinforcement. At the same time, behaviors that are harmful or that interfere with learning are analyzed carefully and are not reinforced. The long-term goal is to help each child be as successful and independent as possible at school, at home and in the community.(CSU Stanislaus News )

Independent assessments showed that 16 of the 29 children in the intensive behavioral treatment group tested in the normal range by the end of 14 months of intervention, with significant improvements shown by all children. Only 5 of 32 children in the two "eclectic" treatment groups showed similar improvement. The results of this study, published in the July/August issue of the Research in Developmental Disabilities, confirm and extend results of previous experimental analyses of the effectiveness of intensive behavioral interventions compared to eclectic treatments. From the abstract of the study:

Twenty-nine children received intensive behavior analytic intervention (IBT; 1:1 adult:child ratio, 25-40 h per week). A comparison group (n = 16) received intensive "eclectic" intervention (a combination of methods, 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, 30 h per week) in public special education classrooms (designated the AP group). A second comparison group (GP) comprised 16 children in non-intensive public early intervention programs...At follow-up, the IBT group had higher mean standard scores in all skill domains than the AP and GP groups. The differences were statistically significant for all domains except motor skills. There were no statistically significant differences between the mean scores of the AP and GP groups. Learning rates at follow-up were also substantially higher for children in the IBT group than for either of the other two groups. (abstract)

This study is particularly important because it extends previous demonstrations of the superiority of intensive behavioral treatments conducted in university-based settings to similar treatments conducted in community settings (CSU Stanislaus News ).

Full reference:

Howard, J.S., Sparkman, C. R., Cohen, H.G., Green, G., & Stanislaw, H. (2005). A comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatments for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26 , 359-383. (PDF Version )

Related articles:

More information about intensive behavioral treatment (from Autism Partnership ):

Medical research commission criticizes appointing facilitated communication advocate, Douglas Biklen, as Dean of Syracuse University's College of Education.
(Behavior News Archive )
August 7, 2005--various sources; updated August 30, 2005

Study questions effectiveness of risperidone for persons with developmental disabilities.
(Behavior News Archive )
August 7, 2005

Free online behavioral journals available from Behavior-Analyst-Online.org.
(Behavior News Archive )
July 31, 2005

Behavior analysis featured in first installment of web show on autism.
(Behavior News Archive )
July 30, 2005

Robot roaches successfully mimic real roach behavior.
(Behavior News Archive )
July 28, 2005

Relatives of lobotomy patients ask Nobel Committee to revoke Nobel Prize to lobotomy inventor.
(Behavior News Archive )
July 23, 2005

Sniffer dogs used to detect bombs in London subways.
(Behavior News Archive )
July 19, 2005

Ban on MMR vaccine has no effect on autism rates in Japan.
July 18, 2005

A study of 31,426 children in Yokohama Japan showed that the elimination of the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in 1993 had no affect on the rate of autism. From the abstract:

The significance of this finding is that MMR vaccination is most unlikely to be a main cause of ASD [autism spectrum disorders], that it cannot explain the rise over time in the incidence of ASD, and that withdrawal of MMR in countries where it is still being used cannot be expected to lead to a reduction in the incidence of ASD. (Abstract)

The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, tracked children born in Yokohama between 1988 and 1996. No change in the rates of either autism with or without regression were noted. The triple MMR vaccine was withdrawn in Japan in 1988, and was unavailable after 1993.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that neither the MMR vaccine nor the vaccine preservative Thimerosol is responsible for autism (Madsen NEJM ). The cause of autism remains unknown. Because of changes in reporting patterns and diagnostic criteria over time, the actual incidence and prevalence rates of autism cannot be accurately determined. (New Scientist ; Health News ; Bright Beginnings )

Reference: Honda, Hideo, Shimizu, Yasuo & Rutter, Michael (2005). No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry  46 (6), 572-579.

Related reading:

  • Danish study of 537,303 children shows no link between autism and MMR vaccine (Behavior News)
  • Masden (Danish) study of MMR and Autism in New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM Full Text )

Wall Street Journal , Skepdic.com, others, questions claims by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. about mercury vaccine-autism connection
(Behavior News Archive )
July 9, 2005; updated August 3, 2005

New study in journal Pediatrics questions the usefulness of Department of Education autism prevalence data.
July 6, 2005

In a study published in the July issue of Pediatrics, James R. Laidler shows that United States Department of Education (USDE) autism prevalence data contain significant internal inconsistencies. According to Laidler, USDE data show an exponential increase in autism prevalence across time, but linear increases within years. Additionally, a break occurs in the increase at about 12 years of age when there should be a continuation or further increase. These anomalies are diffcult to explain, but may come from inconsistences in reporting standards and increased diagnosis based on expanding standards. Laidler points out that diagnoses of autism occur throughout the age span, not just when children are very young. There are as many children diagnosed at age 15 as age 8. (Article in Pediatrics : Yahoo Coverage ; ABC 4 Coverage ).

Marilyn Chadwick of the Syracuse Facilitated Communication Institute admits lack of scientific support for facilitated communication.
(Behavior News Archive )
July 3, 2005

James Randi Educational Foundation issues million dollar challenge to Oakland County Chapter of the Autism Society of America
June 27, 2005; updated August 30, 2005

In response to the refusal of officers of the Oakland County Chapter of the Autism Society of America to become signatories to BAAM's resolution on facilitated communication (resolution), the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has issued the following challenge to the chapter to demonstrate the validity of facilitated communication:

This is an open letter to Natalie Luyckx, President of the Autism Society of America, Oakland County Chapter:

This Foundation will award our million-dollar prize to the Autism Society of America, if the Society will accept the JREF Challenge as outlined at www.randi.org/research/index.html and produce results that show Facilitated Communication to work.

Please spare me the remonstrations about my attitude, my beliefs, my manners; from past experience with those who not only want FC to work, but need to believe in it regardless of the evidence, I expect that sort of response. Read the terms of the offer before resorting to claims that the prize does not exist, that we will refuse to pay, that we would make conditions under which no test could be positive, etc., etc. All those canards are handled in the terms. This is a formal, genuine, sincere offer to conduct a proper scientific test of Facilitated Communication, and to pay the Autism Society of America our one-million-dollar prize if the tests show positive results.

This letter is being sent to you by postal mail, as well.

We await your response.

James Randi Photo Photo: JREF  James Randi
James Randi Educational Foundation
201 S.E. 12th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316


The James Randi Educational Foundation offers this million dollar prize "to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. " The challenge is typically a two-stage process involving a preliminary test of the claim, then, if successful, a formal test. To date, no one has passed the preliminary test, and the million dollar prize has never been awarded. (JREF; JREF Million Dollar Challenge .)

Related Links:

James Randi comments on Biklen appointment as Dean of Syracuse Education School

Clicker trained rats sniff out land mines and tuberculosis in Africa
(BAAM News Archive)
June 15, 2005

The influence "chelation therapy" promoters growing in autism community.
(Behavior News Archive )
June 9, 2005; updated August 25, 2005

Vaccine opponents campaign to artificially inflate sales of book about autism and mercury.
(Behavior News Archive )
June 8, 2005

Facilitated communication advocated in CNN-funded documentary: Autism is a World
(Behavior News Archive )
May 22, 2005; updated August 18, 2005

Drug sniffing dogs mistakenly trained using talcum powder instead of cocaine.
(Behavior News Archive )
May 20, 2005

Shoe insole system implements the "Premack Principle " by reinforcing exercise with TV time.
May 18, 2005

A shoe insole system called "Square Eyes" designed by a student at London's Brunel University counts the number of steps taken by the wearer and converts that number to television viewing time.


Autism possibly linked to difficult births.
(Behavior News Archive )
May 17, 2005:

Harvard psychologists Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke debate nature and nurture in women's mathematical ability.
(Behavior News Archive )
May 16, 2005

Behavior expert questions high school hugging ban
(Behavior News Archive )
May 15, 2005

Berkshire Association convention deadline extended
(BAAM News Archive ).
May 12, 2005

ABA-based autism treatment at Bangor University praised by mother.
(Behavior News Archive )
May 11, 2005

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) training available
(BAAM News Archive )
May 6, 2005

Autism biomarkers found?
(BAAM News Archive )
May 6, 2005

Early behavioral indicators for autism possibly found
(BAAM News Archive )
May 5, 2005

Funding for in-home ABA-based autism therapy granted by Ireland courts
(BAAM News Archives )
May 4, 2005

Newly accessibility software provides access to Macintosh computers
(BAAM News Archives )
May 2, 2005

Iwata functional analysis workshop announced
(BAAM News Archives )
March 18, 2005

Free Macintosh software extracts numerical data from graphs
(BAAM News Archives )
February 10, 2005

Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) Conference April 10-15, 2005 in Houston Texas
(BAAM News Archives )
January 19, 2005

"Choices in Autism" one-day conference announced
(BAAM News Archives )
January 13, 2005

Online registration for BAAM available
(BAAM News Archives )
January 11, 2005

Clicker training is used to teach cancer-sniffing dogs
(Behavior News Archive )
January 9, 2005

BAAM Keynote Speaker announced: A. Charles Catania
(BAAM News Archives )
January 8, 2005

Canadian Supreme Court denies autism treatment funds
(Behavior News Archive )
November 19, 2004

Study shows early academic intervention effective
(BAAM News Archives )
November 19, 2004

New York Times lauds behavioral autism treatments
(BAAM News Archives )
October 22, 2004

Ogden Lindsley, behavior analysis pioneer, dies
(BAAM News Archives )
October 10, 2004

BAAM upgrades to a new web server
(BAAM News Archives )
October 4, 2004

Call for Papers for the 2005 BAAM Convention is announced
(BAAM News Archives )
September 15, 2004

Dozens of BAAM members and friends attend a record-breaking ABA Convention in Boston
(Behavior News Archive)
June 1, 2004

BAAM Convention Manager wins top academic award
(BAAM News Archives )
March 22, 2004

BAAM member wins top academic award
(BAAM News Archives )
March 22, 2004

President of American Psychological Society lauds behavior analysis
(BAAM News Archives )
March 10, 2004

Major study linking autism and MMR vaccine retracted
.(BAAM News Archives )
March 4, 2004

Editor of Lancet reveals ethical violations behind study linking MMR vaccine and autism
(Behavior News Archive )
February 21, 2004

Mark Reilly joins faculty of Central Michigan University
(BAAM News Archives )
September 1, 2003

Ellen Koch joins faculty at Eastern Michigan University
(BAAM News Archives )
August 27, 2003

Another successful BAAM conference is completed
(BAAM News Archives )
March 20-21, 2003

BAAM member publishes article
(BAAM News Archives )
February 25, 2003

Study of 537,303 Danish children shows no link between autism and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
(Behavior News Archive )
November 7, 2002

Donald M. Baer, pioneer in the behavior analysis of child development dies
(BAAM News Archives )
April 29, 2002

EMU Psychology Clinic opens for business
(BAAM News Archives )
October 9, 2001

New Ph.D. program in behavioral psychology begins
(BAAM News Archives )
September 5, 2001





BAAM includes items in this section only as a service to BAAM members and other interested persons. Behavior News items ar original stories or derived from compilations of information from other sources. BAAM reserves the right to edit submitted items for content, length, and style. BAAM will post only those product, service, news, and event announcements which appear to be consistent with BAAM's statement of purpose, relevant laws, regulations, and ethical principles. BAAM's decision in this regard is final. These announcements should not construed as advertisements or endorsements of the products, services, or events described. BAAM cannot accept paid advertising on these pages. BAAM makes no representation of the accuracy of the statements posted herein, the quality of services offered, or suitability of any product for its intended use. Persons reading these postings should thoroughly investigate for themselves the accuracy of the information provided or the suitability of products or services for the intended use. Links to commercial sites are for informational purposes only. BAAM has no affiliation with any commercial organization.

James Todd Behaviorism Jim Todd Behaviorism Eastern Michigan University Psychology