Let’s Disseminate!

By Tiffany N. Kilby, MS, BCBA
Founder and Director, The Behavior Station, LLC.


“You’re a behavior analyst? 
So you’re analyzing me right now?”
“Oh you do that ABA stuff?  That’s for autism, right?”
“ABA?  Isn’t that a lawyer thing?”


Behavior analysts are tasked with disseminating the field of behavior analysis (Behavior Analyst Certification Board Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts & Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts).  Hearing that one has to disseminate the field they work in sounds odd at first.  Other professionals do not have ethical guidelines that require them to disseminate the field they work in.  Moreover, many other professionals do not have a need to disseminate their field because most laypeople have an idea of what the field in question is.  So why do behavior analysts need to disseminate the field? 
Behavior analysis seems to be largely misunderstood.  One search in Google makes this quite apparent – one can find claims on how people receiving applied behavior analysis (ABA) services are treated like animals, or how ABA turns people into robots.  When the science of behavior analysis is being used correctly, these claims are most certainly untrue.  Having one medical doctor engage in malpractice does not mean all doctors practice unethically, and definitely does not discredit the science of medicine.  The same is true for behavior analysts and behavior analysis.
The need for the dissemination of behavior analysis often seems to be an overlooked guideline of the ethical code.  What and how to disseminate is likely discussed even less.  Mostly, it seems that behavior analysts only talk to other behavior analysts about ABA.  This is detrimental in that people outside the field have almost no access to resources involving behavior analysis. 

Six ways to disseminate behavior analysis: 

1) Prepare elevator speeches.  A quick speech about one minute or less. The elevator speech should be delivered in layman’s terms. It should also involve a “hook” that gets the listener interested. If you know anything about the listener(s), use that to tailor your elevator speech to the audience. 
Examples of topics for elevator speeches include responding to:
“What is ABA?”
“What is a behavior analyst?”
“So you’re a psychologist?”
“How to people benefit from ABA?” 

Personal example: People always ask me what I do. I now say something along the lines of, “I am a behavior analyst, so I provide Applied Behavior Analysis (aka ABA) services. Basically what I do is look at what people do and figure out why they do it.” In my experience, I have found that the last line gets people interested and leads to them asking more questions. Everyone wants to know why people do what they do! 

2) Create a platform for dissemination. As a newly minted behavior analyst, I immediately realized the lack of information and resources to the public, despite our ethical guideline to disseminate behavior analysis. For that reason, I created the platform The Behavior Station™. 
One of my goals for The Behavior Station is to make it more likely that a Google search will lead to laypeople having accurate information with additional resources to learn more about behavior analysis. 
3) Become involved in behavioral organizations.  Learn how other behavior analysts disseminate the field. 

4) Incorporate dissemination into training supervisees or students.  This may help you “practice” your elevator speeches, and may also be a great way to model what/how to disseminate so that the supervisees or students learn to disseminate behavior analysis as well. 
5) Be confident, but also be personable (behavior analysts are people, too!).  “Don’t be afraid to share personal information and embed personal/memorable stories” (Dr. Newman, ABAI 2014). 
6) Consider and assess the success of dissemination that is achieved almost effortlessly by non-science and pseudoscience. Non-science and pseudoscience are great at dissemination and reaching the public – what can we learn from them?
Example: Jenny McCarthy and “curing” autism. 

Three areas that behavior analysts can disseminate:

1) The science of the field – evidence-based, best practice is the number one goal of ABA.

2) The significance of the field – behavior does not discriminate, so behavior analysis can be beneficial for anyone.
Additionally: ABA is not just for autism. 

3) The contributions of the field – what behavior analysis has accomplished in the past several decades.


Resources and References


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Tiffany N. Kilby, MS, BCBA

Tiffany N. Kilby, MS, BCBA

Tiffany N. Kilby, MS, BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) for children with autism and developmental disabilities for a private company providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) services.  She has also founded an organization, The Behavior Station, to disseminate behavior analysis and its resources.  Her passion for ABA stems from her passion for raising autism awareness in honor of her family members on the autism spectrum.  Tiffany learned about ABA after she decided to work in the field of autism; she was instantly impressed by the high standards and science of behavior analysis.  Her enthusiasm for learning more about ABA led her to attend Florida State University’s ABA Program, where she received rigorous training in ethics.  In addition to being members of local, state, and national ABA associations, she is the Ethical/Professional Special Interest Group Chair for the Florida Association of Behavior Analysis, Treasurer of the Gold Coast Association for Behavior Analysis, and a volunteer for the Association for Science in Autism Treatment.  Tiffany aspires to continue learning about the field and also help bridge behavior analysts and the world together.