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A lot of people think that conferencing is just about getting CE’s for certification renewal. Conferencing actually has multiple purposes. First, it is an opportunity to learn about a new area of interest. Remember, the BCBA credential is an entry level credential. The scope of practice for a new BCBA is extremely limited. Thus, conferencing can be a great way to start training on a new area/scope of practice.

Regional Conferences (i.e., your state association such as Florida ABA or CT ABA, or Mass ABA) provide an opportunity for you to remain current about issues within your state. Perhaps your state is trying to push for licensing of behavior analysis. You need to attend to be in the know! For Florida, the current issues around medicaid are a key focus for many providers.

Did you know you also have an ethical obligation to your state association? yes! under the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code, 6.01 b), “behavior analysts have an obligation to participate in behavior-analytic professional and scientific organizations or activities.” Therefore, you should conference because it’s ethical!

Conferencing is a great time to network with other providers, scientists, product development teams, and sometimes payors. Put your best foot forward and make those connections!

Finally, conferencing is a wonderful time to see friends and colleagues. Rest up before conferences so you have the energy and stamina to get it all in. Check out these photos from our fun times together.

Some of our Florida team!

Conferencing Links

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Last night in our journal club, we had lively discussion regarding the 2016 article on Competency-Based, Ethical, and Socially Valid Approach to Supervision. Laura Turner served as the lead author and Aaron Fischer & James Luiselli served as co-authors. You can read the article yourself here.

If you haven’t read this article, you absolutely should. There are so many important points in the article it will surely improve your supervision services. If you are a BACB Candidate, then you should also read this as it may help you in selecting your supervisor and/or giving feedback to your supervisor regarding the quality of your supervision. Quality supervision experiences will more than likely lead to quality BCBAs which should lead to quality services for clients.

The first topic of discussion revolved around the need to establish a good relationship between the parties. Keep in mind, the BACB suggests that multiple supervisors be used so the good relationships and communication should cross all parties. A key point in having a good relationship is to be sure to establish rapport. This of course led to the jumping off point on the new training curriculum for supervisors. The BACB recently made the 2.0 Curriculum available and you can find it here.

We also discussed the authors’ point of how payment for services may affect the relationship between parties. In most professions, the trainee is responsible for funding their learning. This includes payment for college coursework but also payment for internships, practica, and/or supervision of professional competencies. It seems that the ABA industry, in a desperate attempt to mass produce BCBAs, companies are offering supervision at no cost or no cost in return for a year or two of payback employment. Unfortunately, due to the demand for BCBAs, this has led to many candidates taking their free supervision and leaving their supervisor high and dry for payment. We all know this is unethical behavior in that it violates the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code #1.04a, 1.04c, and 6.01a. This, of course, led us to the BACB latest newsletter regarding the contract and what the BACB will do if the contract is broken. We will save my opinion on that for another day.

The authors made an important point to discuss just how much time quality supervision requires of both parties. For example, the authors point out that a supervisor may think they have time to supervise because it is only a few hours every other week. However, the supervisor has to travel to complete observations, make time to read assignments, make time to read articles, and make time to plan feedback. Essentially, for every hour of supervision, the supervisor can expect to spend at least 2 hours of work. Similarly for the candidate who is already working and possibly taking classes, the candidate will need to find time to meet with the supervisor for feedback, complete readings assigned by the supervisor, and complete homework such as program development. This is not an easy process and it certainly shouldn’t be rushed so the candidate can get out and immediately start work. This is where the key skills are learned and practiced and it must be completed with precision rather than speed.

Next we discussed the importance of collecting data on the supervisee skills. First, this requires the supervisor and supervisee to develop measurable objectives. Then it requires the supervisor to collect baseline data on those skills followed by additional data collection and progress monitoring. This led to a discussion of how BIP Track data collection tool would be great for this! The developers of BIP Track have created options for collecting IOA data as well as fidelity data. What better way to monitor supervisee skill development! Note that not all behaviors need to be observed in practice. The supervisor can also ask tough questions during the supervision meetings to see if the supervisee is retaining information from coursework, using their SAFMEDS to become fluent in terminology, or being proficient in problem solving strategies.

Performance feedback is always a key piece of providing quality supervision experiences. In discussing performance feedback, we came back to the BACB 2.0 Curriculum and noted that behavioral targets are included for supervisees during feedback. These include: “i) Engagement in active listening (eye contact, posture) and engagement (question
asking, paraphrasing) strategies; ii) Taking notes during feedback meetings; iii) Restatement of feedback to check for understanding; iv) Requests for clarification, examples, or models as needed; v) Acknowledgement of responsibility for errors (take responsibility).

I believe that one area where BCBAs can improve is in the area of evaluating their own supervision outcomes. There are many ways to do this. The authors recommend using their form, Supervision Monitoring and Evaluation Form, which you can download here. (Follow the link, then download the appendix.)

And finally, don’t forget to continue your own professional development on supervision. Read, take workshops, attend your state conference, or attend a national conference! Check out our list of continuing education courses here.

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We have some seats left in our back to school webinar on Ethics Related to Conducting the FBA and Developing the BIP. To join us, email info at applied behavioral strategies dot com or visit our website to register online. Scroll to the bottom and pay with PayPal.

Other Ethics Related Posts

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It was incredibly awesome to meet so many behavior analysts at the National Autism Conference! If you have never been to this conference, you should add it to your “to do” list. I got to meet my hero, Dr. Perry Zirkel. He presents there every year so if you go for no other reason, go to see him! The other perk about this conference (besides seeing AMAZING behavior analysts such as Tim Vollmer, Nikki Dickens, Tom Zane, Bill Heward, & Janet Twyman present) is that you get to access all the handouts online. So if you are having conference FOMO, you can still see some of the posted content here. Click on the speaker and then access their handouts.

My session on SPED Law and Ethical Issues for Behavior Analysts was full of engaging participants with many questions. I really appreciate how everyone participated with my questions and case studies! Thank you all!!!

While we made it through all of our planned content, we did not get through all of the questions that BCBAs posted in our Menti.com interactive software. So I promised participants that I would work through the questions here on our blog.

Q1. If a student needs a positive behavior support plan (PBSP or BIP) based on the FBA, does a behavior IEP goal have to be developed or is implementation of the PBSP/BIP (with data, consult, fidelity) enough?

This is a good question. To my knowledge, there are no laws/regulations on this. Be sure to check in your state for certainty. With that said, it would make logical sense that goals in the BIP would align/feed into the goals in the IEP. I would include replacement behaviors, positive behaviors, and targeted challenging behaviors. Beware: it has been my experience that as a more severe behavior is addressed, the topography may change. So the IEP goal would be met (i.e., zero aggression) but another goal would be added to target the new behavior (e.g., verbal threats).

Q2. When writing IEP goals after an FBA has been conducted, is it required to develop goals for both increasing a replacement behavior and decreasing the problem behavior?

To my knowledge, there is no requirement for this. Be sure to check your state law/regulations. However, it is good practice to ensure that staff focus on appropriate/replacement behaviors.

Q3. When a student is being placed out of district, does the referring district need to conduct the FBA before the placement occurs? Sometimes we (placement) receive an FBA but it is very outdated.

Again, to my knowledge, there is no requirement for this. Be sure to check your state law/regulations. It would be best practice under the LRE to ensure that all supports and services have been attempted before moving the student to a more segregated setting. An FBA and appropriate BIP would be one such example of supports/services.

Q4. I work for an Intermediate Unit. Districts contract a specific number of hours that they will need for me to consult in their districts. To be clear, consent for all consults/observations?

Who is your client? Who is the PRIMARY beneficiary of your services? If you are observing in a CLASS and you are providing consultation to the teacher, the teacher is your primary beneficiary of services. Your contract is with the district and the teacher is giving assent/consent to your services. The second you begin focusing on Johnny’s behavior or Suzy’s behavior, the individual child becomes your PRIMARY beneficiary of services. The teacher and paras are the secondary beneficiary of services. That child is a MINOR. His parents deserve to consent to your services. Under your BACB Code of Ethics, you need to have a contract for services (the IEP serves as a contract. Without an IEP or 504, you have no contract). You also need written consent to assess Johnny or Suzy. What is an observation of Johnny and Johnny’s behavior if it is not an assessment? And you need to work with the parents as part of the assessment process.

Q5. I work with a funding stream that contracts for services after an FBA has been completed and does not want us to complete them at re-eval. What should we do if there are no consents to re-eval?

Well, we all know that under IDEIA and the BACB Code of Ethics that an FBA (or assessment of any kind) may NOT be conducted without written consent from the parents. If you feel that an updated FBA is needed, then it is your clinical responsibility to document the need for an updated FBA and request it from the parents and the district.

Q6. As a parent, what can I do when I walk into an IEP meeting that has been written already? As a professional consulting, what can I do in the same situation?

This is a great question. There are a couple of ways you can handle it. 1) You could be a total jerk, rip it up, throw it in the trash and announce that you are exercising your right to be an EQUAL team member. 2) Another, more socially appropriate response would be to reach out to the teacher BEFORE the IEP is due and ask to meet to plan/discuss the upcoming IEP. 3) Finally, you could thank them for supplying you with a draft for review but add that you have some additions/corrections/changes that you would like to be made. I like option 2 as it lends itself to be more collaborative. If you are a consulting professional, you have no rights. So……when asked, add your input that would be backed with a written report full of data and data-based recommendations.

Q7. How many possible meeting dates must the team extend to parents if they cannot make the first date(s) given for an IEP?

This is one of my favorite questions! In case you do not know, the parents are an equal team member AND meetings must be held on dates AND times that are convenient to all the team members. The law and the regs fail to stipulate how many attempts must be made to get these meetings scheduled. However, the regs are clear that MULTIPLE attempts must be made. These attempts must include different modes of correspondence (e.g, phone, mail, etc.) These days, we have technology that allows us to schedule among many busy people. I highly recommend using Doodle for families who are tech saavy. I recommend face to face visits with families to nail down a time to ensure attendance and participation. I also recommend telehealth to allow families to participate right from work. The federal government recently indicated that attending IEP meetings falls under the FMLA act! wooo hoo for families!

Q8. As a parent, I don’t feel that “teacher notes” are data that accurately reflect my child’s progress. What can I do?

You are 100% correct that teacher anecdotal notes are insufficient to reflect a child’s progress. Can you imagine a parent of a child in general education, where the child received a C and the parent went in to inquire about the C. How do you think the teacher could possibly use her notes to justify the C? She cannot. She must use class assignments that are GRADED correct and incorrect. She must use test scores (GRADED correct and incorrect). She must use a rubric on projects with points assigned to various components on the project. All of these things are also required in special education. Simply ask for measurable data outcomes.

Q9. Public school refuses to provide copies of raw data. Claim that data in that form can be misinterpreted. What can parent do?

In general education do you get to see your child’s spelling test? Do you see the individual items that led to the 50% score? Yes! you can do an item analysis to find out why your child is failing spelling. For reading, do you get to see the reading tests so you can better understand why your child is not progressing in reading? Yes! Why would you NOT be allowed to see the data for your child in special education? ANALYZING is an important part of what we do (that is the second A in ABA). Item analysis, response analysis, data analysis should be allowed—especially if a child is not progressing.

Q10. I’m a teacher. We contracted a BCBA to help in the class. When paras and staff asked clarification or why something is done. The response was always I have the certification that’s why. What do I do?

These are the things that we do not want to hear about fellow colleagues. I’m sad for a BCBA who responds in this way. He/she clearly learned this behavior from somewhere else and should be reminded that this is not in alignment with our BACB Code of Professional and Ethical Code of Conduct. Please have him/her read this! The BCBA should work with you (and the parent) to develop a plan that is understandable. The plan should be explained to you in detail. You should be given time to ask questions AND to receive training on the plan. Here are a few quotes from our code: For example, under 3.04 Explaining Assessment Results. Behavior analysts explain assessment results using language and graphic displays of data that are reasonably understandable to the client. Also under 4.02 Involving Clients in Planning and Consent. Behavior analysts involve the client in the planning of and consent for behavior-change programs. And under 4.05 Describing Behavior-Change Program Objectives. Behavior analysts describe, in writing, the objectives of the behavior-change program to the client before attempting to implement the program. As a teacher who is benefitting from the services provided to the client, you are also the client of the BCBA. Additionally, in the same 4.05 code, The description of program objectives and the means by which they will be accomplished is an ongoing process throughout the duration of the client-practitioner relationship. And finally, 7.0 Behavior Analysts’ Ethical Responsibility to Colleagues. Behavior analysts work with colleagues within the profession of behavior analysis and from other professions and must be aware of these ethical obligations in all situations. So, please help this BCBA understand his/her responsibilities to you and your paras.

Q11. You shouldn’t say you are doing Social Thinking if you aren’t doing it as prescribed though. So we should be saying ‘modified ST’.

So is Social Thinking a curriculum or an intervention? It sounds as if you view it as an intervention. Should we be doing this practice as BCBAs? As behavior analysts under the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code, 1.01 Reliance on Scientific Knowledge. Behavior analysts rely on professionally derived knowledge based on science and behavior analysis when making scientific or professional judgments in human service provision, or when engaging in scholarly or professional endeavors. And also under 4.01 Conceptual Consistency. Behavior analysts design behavior-change programs that are conceptually consistent with behavior analytic principles.

Q12. If you are part of a child study (pre-eval) team, and parents were invited but do not show or answer calls, can we still not discuss the student with the team cause there is no consent?

This is a good question. First, cheers for your team for inviting parents to the pre-evaluation/pre-referral process. This is the first step in acknowledging that the parents know their child better than anyone. As a BCBA, you should not be making any recommendations about ANY child without first conducting an assessment (see your assessment code 3.01). Additionally, you cannot start the assessment without written consent (see your assessment code 3.03). And finally, you should only provide services as part of a defined, professional, or scientific relationship or role (see your code 1.05). Without an IEP or other contract for services, it would NOT be advisable to act as that child’s professional.

As you can see we had a very lively session! Thank you again to the NAC for inviting me to speak and thank you to everyone who participated in the session.

Check out some of our related posts on SPED Law:

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We are thrilled to announce that we will now be serving the Flagler Beach area of Florida!

We have immediate openings for ABA therapy in homes, communities, and schools. We are also available to contract with schools for a variety of services.

If you are interested in receiving services in our new catchment area, please call our toll free number: 844.854.7400

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Feeding Clinic

Check out this really cool video from our colleagues at the Munroe-Myer Institute Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program.

Video Link

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Behavior analysts need 4 continuing education credits in Ethics every 2 years. This results in ethics credits being one of the highly sought out types of continuing education.

If you have found yourself in need of those ethics credits, we offer several opportunities through our online live webinars which we will now be recording and making available following each course.

Online continuing education offers some benefits but it also lacks one of my favorite things which is the socialization opportunities that go hand in hand with conferences. So, if you are needing some social time AND those ethics credits, you should check out the 7th Annual Ethics in Professional Practice Conference at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. And if you register BEFORE 7/15, you will receive the lower registration price.

Hope to see you there!

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