Special Learning Supports Ethics in the Field of (Applied) Behavior Analysis for the Global Autism Community

Website: http://www.abaethicshotline.com/

Why is Ethics an important topic for the field of behavior analysis? The most recently published (and widely adopted) 2018 Autism prevalence rate by the Centers for Disease (CDC) estimates that 1 in 59 children in the U.S. are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is generally accepted that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based behavioral intervention is considered the “gold standard” in autism treatment. Experts in ABA are called Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). In response to global demand, the increase in the number of BCBAs have swelled, creating unintended consequences for the field of behavior analysis.

Special Learning is proud to partner with Jon Bailey, PhD, BCBA-D, a leading ethicist in behavior analysis, to support his lifelong passion for driving ethical practices among practitioners of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

As global demand for ABA services increases exponentially and the field of ABA races to keep up with the demand, the field is seeing a troubling trend of practitioners turning a blind eye to ethical violations of BCBAs and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), a category of credentialed professionals responsible for implementing ABA programs under the supervision of BCBAs.

BCBAs and RBTs are required to adhere to the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. As a “self-policing” field, in order to maintain ethical practices among practitioners, which is critical to ensuring quality of care outcomes, for clients BCBAs and RBTs are required to report ethics violations to the BACB, the governing body for behavior analysts, for further investigation. Sadly, thousands of potential ethics violations go unreported. This is where Dr. Bailey and his ABA Ethics Hotline comes in.

The purpose of the ABA Ethics Hotline is to provide ABA practitioners with help and guidance through difficult ethical situations that arise every day in the practice of behavior analysis. Whether a clinician needs guidance on how to approach specific ethical situations, or just looking for confirmation from an “ethicist,” this site provides BCBAs and RBTs with an opportunity to interact with experienced, trusted BCBAs and other professionals willing to share their expertise and experience in a meaningful, helpful way.

Since the launch of the ABA Ethics Hotline in October 2018, the site has received over 10,000 page views.

In response to the unfortunate rise in incidents of healthcare fraud in the field of behavior analysis, the theme for February 2019 is focused on… Ethical Billing.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Special Learning’s Free Hotline

This is an independent SL Hotline that is part of our VCAT service. This hotline has no connection with any other association or membership group.

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