Welcome to bSci21.org, a site owned an operated by bSci21Media, LLC. The mission of bSci21Media is to serve as a comprehensive media outlet for behavior analysis by disseminating the science to the world and supporting behavior analytic companies around the globe. Our larger vision is B.F. Skinner’s vision of a technology of behavior change to provide solutions to the world’s problems.
We achieve our mission by:
- Providing a non-academic publication outlet for articles accessible to the general public through our blog Behavioral Science in the 21st Century.
- Providing media and consultation services that help to spread the science and support behavioral companies around the globe, including bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWriting, bSciWebDesign, and bSciStudios.
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org. bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series. Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar. He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues. Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]
Dear Dr. Ward,
We are writing to thank you for your article highlighting the recent letter sent by Dr. Melody Musgrove, Director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in which she addressed “concerns within the field” of special education—specifically, that treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are overly focused on applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. We applaud your concerns and comments, as we sincerely disagree with the statement presented by OSEP. Their position is concerning, given that ABA is supported by five decades of research which demonstrate its effectiveness with the ASD population and that it is endorsed by The Centers for Disease Control (2014), The United States Surgeon General (1999), and the National Autism Center, (2015). Unfortunately, Dr. Musgrove’s letter, as one written by an authority in special education, will reach countless parents and educational professionals, and regardless of intent, may serve to diminish the value of ABA in their eyes.
As you point out, behavior analysts have long focused on multiple areas when working with children with autism (Carr & Durand, 1985; Bourret & Vollmer, 2003). The focus is often twofold: teaching new skills and reducing or eliminating challenging behaviors. Given the function-based approach upon which ABA was founded (Skinner, 1953), it is not unreasonable to suspect that there may be significant overlap in the areas in which skills are taught. For example, a young child may be taught to make a vocal request for a break instead of engaging in self-injurious behavior. In another case, a student is taught to successfully pass a soccer ball by reinforcing successive attempts. Or, a learner may be taught the sequence to brushing his or her teeth by sequentially introducing the steps of the chain. In each of these domains—although topographically different—behavior analysis finds its home. The statement made by OSEP does not appear to embrace the efficacy of ABA, nor does it express a fundamental understanding of what it is.
As fellow behavior analysts, we appreciate your objective reporting of this critically important development in special education in the United States, and commend you for illuminating the complexities that occur when science, education, and the law intersect. As you eloquently and succinctly point out, behavior analysis finds its home in many different instructional areas; however, “no one science has a monopoly on it.” We certainly agree, and applaud your suggestion (http://www.bsci21.org/why-behavior-analysis-needs-to-keep-up-with-other-sciences/) promoting the idea that behavior analysts should increase their efforts to learn from and work with practitioners in other professions. All practitioners, behavioral and otherwise, have a responsibility to use the best practices identified in their respective fields.
To “play nicely in the sandbox,” behavior analysts should consider using their skills in data analysis to assist those in other related fields to conduct meaningful research on their own practices. It should not be automatically assumed that the head seat at the autism treatment table is reserved for behavior analysts. Instead, behavior analysts are encouraged to continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of ABA in their practice and research, and to disseminate the ethical importance of using evidence to support treatments for clients. Perhaps by working with practitioners in other fields and promoting science-based treatment practices through a team-based approach, behavior analysts can spread the important message that data-driven, ethically-sound autism treatments are in the best interest of the clients they serve and their respective fields.
Patrick O’Leary, MA, BCBA and Elizabeth G. Callahan, MA, BCaBA
Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Bourret, J., & Vollmer, T. R. (2003). Basketball and the matching law. Behavioral Technology Today, 3,
Carr, E. G., & Durand, V. M. (1985). Reducing behavior problems through functional communication
training. Journal of Applied behavior Analysis, 18 (2), 111-126.
Centers for Disease Control (2014). Community report on autism. Retrieved from
National Autism Center (2015). National standards, phase 2. Retrieved from
Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and human behavior. Free Press: New York, NY.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Surgeon General. (1999). Mental health: A report of the
Surgeon General. Washington, DC: Author.
For reprint permission of this email, please contact:
Executive Director, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Hoboken, NJ 07030
The well-rounded topics covered in bSci.org are inspiring. Dr. Ward, I predict this information you disseminate about behavior analytic principles across so many settings will encourage the trend for the science to reach a much broader audience than it has in the past. Thanks for your contribution.
Thank you, sir!