What You Need to Know to Be a Behavior Analyst

James Todd
5.00 out of 5
(4 customer reviews)



This presentation from the 2018 Michigan Autism Conference addresses the increasing specialization within behavior analysis and critiques the field’s insularity and narrow focus resulting from specific training and credentialing paths. It highlights the risks of a narrowed scope of practice, explores the causes of this trend, acknowledges some benefits of insularity, and advocates for behavior analysts to engage with and integrate evidence-based practices from outside their field to enhance their work.

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A couple generations ago a popular academic activity was to point out to behavior analysts their relative insularity. This was at a time when most behavior analysts came to the field from other areas. Even if some were island-bound, most had been to other places. They should see us now! With training and credentialing sequences aimed at everyone from high school camp counselors through the seasoned Ph.D.s, now expanding beyond the ability of some programs to contain them, we can keep our members’ attention so tightly focused inward that they don’t even notice there is a horizon, much consider that there might be interesting and useful things beyond it. Indeed, we have reached a point were many behavior analysts who treat children with autism have had a graduate sequence in child behavior. This cannot be good for us (or the kids), and as Edwin Willems predicted in 1974, there will be an inevitable narrowing of the field to practice in very specific areas. Of course, with a narrowing of our assessment and treatment choices, we will also find ourselves harboring the illusion of increased general effectiveness, including in areas where we don’t have a presence. This presentation will explore some of the variables that led us to this situation, including some of the actual disciplinary benefits of insularity, and how behavior analysts might nevertheless safely and politely travel to other traditions to find sound, evidence-based information and techniques that might be usefully incorporated into their own work.

About the Speaker

Dr. James Todd is a Professor of Psychology at Eastern Michigan University. Much of his recent work involves the analysis of ineffective and pseudoscientific interventions for autism and other developmental disabilities, especially “facilitated communication” and “rapid prompting.” He has served as an expert for the Defense in cases involving false accusations of abuse arising from these methods. Most recently he was an expert witness for the Prosecution in the Stubblefield assault case in New Jersey discussing the scientific evidence against the validity of facilitated communication.

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Below is the entire open-access version of this video. It does not contain embedded questions or interactions like the CEU version of the module.

4 reviews for What You Need to Know to Be a Behavior Analyst

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    Very helpful presentation!

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    Very good talk, engaging.

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A portion of the proceeds from this module goes directly to the Michigan Autism Conference

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Dr. James Todd
What You Need to Know to Be a Behavior Analyst
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