Saturday, March 21 from 9am-12pm

Making the world a better place since last week:
Behavior Analysts as emerging legislative advocates and leaders
Suzanne Letso, MA, BCBA

Behavior Analysts are relatively new to the legislative arena, but many of us are interested in promoting or opposing a variety of legislative issues that will impact provision of ABA services. We often see the need for legislative advocacy but are reluctant to get involved because it sounds complex, time consuming, and hard to do. It is neither hard nor complex. Depending on your level of involvement, it does not even require much time to make a political impact.

Many of the strategies utilized by seasoned lobbyists orchestrating multifaceted legislative agendas can be utilized to enhance both individual and group legislative success. Proactive, reactive and opportunistic strategies, identification of allies and opposition, messaging, identification of congressional champions, and methods for enhancing our political reach will be outlined. Instructions on writing public testimony, attending a hearing, organizing grassroot efforts, and increasing our community’s response to a legislative call-to-arms will be discussed. Strategies for developing a legislative action plan will be reviewed, and participants will work together to generate elements of a sample strategic plan. Examples of successful political campaigns in our field and additional resources will be identified. A rationale for political action based upon the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Professional and Ethical Code for Behavior Analysts will be provided.

Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop or other device with capacity to search the Web, respond to a participant survey via, and generate a written document.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify elements of the BACB Professional and Ethical Code for Behavior Analysts that relate to legislative involvement.
  2. Participants will be able to access their own state General Assembly website and locate bills, legislators, committees, agendas and other resources to help advocacy efforts of behavior analytic legislation.
  3. Participants will be able to state at least 3 reasons to participate in legislative action related to the profession.
  4. Participants will be able to identify allies and obstacles to the advancement of behavior analytic legislation.
  5. Participants will be able to write a letter of support for behavior analytic legislation which contains the key necessary to be effective.
  6. Participants will be able to identify groups of people and/or organizations other than behavior analysts who will benefit from behavior analytic legislative actions.
  7. Participants will be able to state at least 3 areas of successful legislative initiatives related to the provision of behavior analysis.
    Participants will be able to state at least 3 other means of supporting behavior analytic legislation besides written testimony.


Saturday, March 21 from 1:15-4:15pm

A behaviour Analysis of Theory of Mind: theoretical and applied implications.
Francesca degli Espinosa, Ph.D., BCBA-D

The term Theory of Mind has come to refer to a collection of responses that involve one’s ability to predict another person’s behaviour based on understanding that person’s perspective. One of the most studied topics in the field of psychology for the past 30 years, Theory of Mind is considered not only an important developmental milestone in childhood, but also a theoretical system to explain additional social and cognitive processes in both typical and atypical children and adults. Despite the importance of the topic, behaviour analysis has yet to provide a satisfactory account of Theory of Mind (i.e., of the variables that control the types of behaviour commonly held to denote Theory of Mind). In this presentation I set out to provide the beginning of such an account. In the first part, I will argue that Theory of Mind is not an “entity” that is either present or absent, but rather, is a developmental verbal process that begins in early childhood with the establishment of tacting public and private events during social interactions. In addition, I will provide an analysis of the controlling variables of the component verbal skills that are said to denote Theory of Mind. In the second part of the talk, I will illustrate a hierarchical sequence of instructional activities derived from such an analysis to establish perspective taking in children with autism, a syndrome with known deficits in these skills. The application of a teaching technology derived from a conceptual and experimental analysis both validates and extends the basic approach.

Level: advanced

Learning objectives:

To describe the verbal controlling variables involved in Theory of Mind Tasks

To provide a behavioural interpretation of perspective taking

To delineate a programme of instruction to establish component Theory of Mind skills