First Annual Town Hall Meeting on Behavior Analysis
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas - May 28, 2010


Remember the Alamo!

The meeting held on Friday 5/28/2010 at the Alamo was sponsored by the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT), California Association for Behavior Analysis (CalABA), and the Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysis (CTABA). The Lovaas Institute Midwest also provided resources to support and promote the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to express concerns about the actions of the Practice Board (PB) of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).

More than 160 people were in attendance including the Executive Council of ABAI and members of its Practice Board. Representatives from more than 27 State Associations and SIGs were present including the Autism SIG, NYSABA, CalABA, BAAM, CTABA, NJABA, TXABA, WisABA, FABA, BABAT, Heartland ABA, Minnesota Northland ABA, AlABA, 4 Corners ABA, Virginia ABA, Pennsylvania ABA, and HIABA. International representatives from Canada, Spain, UK, and Ireland as well as leadership from BACB, APBA, and Autism Speaks. Almost 50% the attendees self-identified as holding State Association or SIG leadership positions.

CTABA, BABAT, and CalABA described what happened in each of their states. In each situation ABAI's Practice Board and other representatives of ABAI did not act in accordance with the wishes of the state associations.

In CT, ABAI and its PB openly opposed legislation that would designate BCBAs as qualified providers of services to students with ASDs in the public schools. CTABA worked closely with the CT Attorney General gathering widespread and strong support for this important legislation. ABAI's PB also contacted an insurance provider in CT to discuss whether the BCBA credential was adequate to provide behavioral services. The actions of ABAI's PB and ABAI representatives in Massachusetts and California were also in direct conflict with the positions of BABAT and CalABA, respectively.

Additionally, a rationale was presented for why the Behavior Analyst Certification Board's (BACB) credentialing process is the proper foundation for a model licensing act. There are approximately 8,000 BACB-credentialed persons. It was noted that the BACB has over 190 approved course sequences. The practice standards and ethical guidelines of the BACB have been developed with the input of thousands of behavioral practitioners via a process that was established by an independent credentialing authority. The BACB is required by this authority to follow this process of reviewing these standards and guidelines every 3-5 years. The BACB's credentialing process has established a common ground for graduate training, supervised experience, and continuing education. This common ground was influenced by thousands of practicing behavior analysts rather than a handful of academics. Credentialed behavior analysts and their employers have dedicated substantial resources in this process. ABAI's own survey of members, published in a 2008 newsletter, revealed that more persons favored advocating for a behavior analyst's right to practice than favored licensure.

In response to the presentations both (then) ABAI President, Ray Miltenberger, ABAI President and (current) ABAI President (Pat Friman) spoke. Ray Miltenberger apologized for the actions of the PB but also noted that the PB was operating under directives forwarded to them by ABAI. He stated that in each of the three states ABAI erred in their actions and pledged that what happened in each of these states would not be repeated. Ray Miltenberger said that states would no longer be interfered with and that ABAI would only become involved in state affairs if a state association requested their assistance and that this assistance would only serve to support the state association's efforts. He also stated that ABAI and the Practice Board would endeavor to promote the field and the BACB credentials. However, he also noted that ABAI would continue to promote its model licensing act. Ray Miltenberger's apology was appreciated as was his proclamation that ABAI would cease inserting itself into state practice and public policy issues. Despite this more than 25 of the attendees provided follow-up commentary and questions to ABAI's Executive Council. Input ranged from requesting ABAI to "shelve" their model licensing act to asking "ABAI to work with the BACB to obtain a common model licensing act." Other comments requested ABAI to put its promise to refrain from interference in State Association legislative and political activities in writing. Still others questioned how ABAI could simultaneously promote BACB credentials and its modeling licensing act. At the end of the meeting a survey was distributed and was completed by more than 65% of the attendees. More than 95% of those who completed the survey indicated that they were very concerned about schisms within the field of behavior analysis and wanted a protocol to be developed to guide communications between State Associations and ABAI regarding public policy and professional practice. Almost 80% of the respondents indicated that they felt that the PB should be elected by practitioners and that a long-term strategic public policy plan should be developed in coordination with State Associations, SIGs, ABAI, the BACB, and other stake holders. Many also indicated that they thought the meeting was an important first step in addressing some real problems for the field. See below for complete survey results.

What's next? The second annual Town Hall Meeting on Behavior Analysis will be held in Denver in 2011 to coincide with the ABAI Conference. Prior to that public policy, practitioner issues, and general concerns about promoting both science and practice will be discussed at the annual conferences for BABAT (October, 14-15, 2010), CTABA (April 1, 2011), and CalABA (February 17-19, 2011). Conference registration for those in State Association leadership will be waived for those who wish to attend any of those conferences. In addition, we are able to support State Associations in other ways. For specific suggestions or more information contact Bill Ahearn (, Suzanne Letso (, or Jane Howard (

Survey Results

1. Please indicate your current affiliations by checking all that apply.

2. I am concerned about schisms among the various stakeholders within the behavior analytic community.

3. Schisms within the field will weaken the position of behavior analysis in the larger community.

4. State Associations and ABAI should develop a protocol of how to communicate with each other regarding focus areas such as public policy and professional practice.

5. The ABAI Practice Board should be elected by the ABAI members who are practitioners.

6. A long-term strategic public policy plan should be developed and "signed off" by State Associations, SIGs, ABAI, BACB, and other key stakeholders.

7. I would be interested in attending another Town Hall Meeting at a state association conference (e.g., BABAT, CalABA, CTABA) and/or at the ABAI Convention in 2011.

8. Please indicate the importance of additional topics for future Town Hall Meetings.