I am excited to be writing my first ABAI chapter update for the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA). We have been busy with association projects, communicating with our membership, and advocating for the field of behavior analysis throughout New York State. Despite 2020 being a challenging year for everyone, NYSABA has been able to make progress in several areas. The need to move to a virtual format has provided an effective and efficient means to communicate, meet, and stay connected.
We have several accomplishments to share this year. NYSABA’s Representative At Large, Elizabeth Drago, began an initiative to create a World Behavior Analysis Day. Several ABA organizations, including ABAI, have come together to collaborate on this project and we will be celebrating our first World Behavior Analysis Day on March 20, 2021. We have created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for NYSABA. We have an amazing committee and we have had several meetings to work on our goals and initiatives. These include, but are not limited to, an assessment and training of the NYSABA Board to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion is embedded within the Board and the organization. In addition, we have created a new website for NYSABA, while increasing our presence on social media.
NYSABA continues to be a voice for the behavior analytic community in New York. Although NYSABA membership continues to grow, we need to focus on increasing the number of members to push forward with important legislative issues happening in the state. Unfortunately, the number of licensed and certified behavior analysts in the state significantly outnumber the number of members in NYSABA. All behavior analysts in the state are urged to join NYSABA so that our collective voice can be heard by the state legislature. If you are not a member of NYSABA, become one. If you are already a member of NYSABA, get a colleague to join. If you and your colleagues are already members, we thank you and encourage you to become active in the association.
New York State licensing laws governing the practice of behavior analysis have been in effect since 2016. NYSABA has been doing important work educating behavior analysts about the licensing process and how to practice legally in New York State. We provide regular updates on our website and Facebook page, hold events at our annual conference, and disseminate information at various events in New York. NYSABA continues to stay up to date with information coming from the New York State Office of Professions so that we can update our members about any issues affecting the practice of behavior analysis.
One of the biggest issues that severely impacts the practice of behavior analysts in New York State is the restriction on the scope of practice of behavior analysts to only working with individuals with autism or related disorders with a prescription for ABA. New York State is the only state in the country that restricts the practice of behavior analysts to individuals with autism. New York has the lowest number of behavior analysts per 100 individuals with autism in the Northeast. In addition, the number of behavior analysts is growing slowly in New York. NYSABA is actively campaigning to address this restriction of scope, including lobbying to pass bills to lift the restriction on the scope of practice of behavior analysts. While we have not been able to hold in-person advocacy days and meet with legislators due to COVID-19, we have been able to continue our legislative work virtually. Throughout the last year, we have increased support for our bills to remove the restriction on the scope of practice of behavior analysts. We have new bill numbers in the senate and the assembly this year: S1662 (Skoufis), A-3523 (Peoples-Stokes). For our voices to be heard, we need numbers. Therefore, we are asking that behavior analysts, family members, or anyone else that is affected by this restriction on the scope of practice contact their legislators to inform them of this issue. Please email NYSABAlegislative@gmail.com for information about how to help.
In October, we held our 31st annual conference, but our first virtual conference. We were honored to hear keynote addresses from Dr. Linda LeBlanc and Dr. Shahla Ala’i. Additionally, we welcomed six invited speakers, including Anthony Cammilleri, Tracey Walsh, Stephen Cook, John Borrero, Art Dowdy, and Adithyan Rajaram. Topics included supervising aspiring behavior analysts, individualized curricula, advocating for students with disabilities, legislative issues in New York, social justice, and cultural responsiveness, addressing obesity in children and adults, preference for single outcomes and event sequences, delivering culturally sound behavior analytic services when working with an interpreter, and practical functional assessment and skill-based treatment. We also had excellent poster presentations. Although we were not able to be in person, the chats and various other conversations through the message boards helped to create a sense of togetherness.
Board members this year included Tricia Moss-Lourenco (president), Nancy Dib (president-elect), Nicole DeRosa (past president and conference chair), Linda Matey (treasurer), Vicki Knapp (secretary and marketing co-chair), Vanessa Patrone (representative at large and marketing co-chair), Joshua Jessel (representative at large and student activities chair), Elizabeth Drago (representative at large), Kenneth Shamlian (representative at large and membership chair), Fernande Ikombo-Deguenon (finance chair), Noor Syed (education chair), Bobbi Rogers (consumer representative and chair of the Parent and Family Committee), Deborah Napolitano and Maureen O’Grady (legislative co-chairs), and Bobby Newman (fundraising chair). In 2020, Nancy Dib was elected as president-elect, Vicki Knapp was re-elected as secretary, and Bobbi Rogers was re-elected as consumer representative. In addition, we welcomed Noor Syed as the education chair in 2021. This year will bring a new election and we will be seeking nominations for important roles of two representatives at large.
We are now planning for our 32nd annual conference to be held in Albany on October 27– 29, 2021 which will include great keynote and invited speakers. We will be accepting presentation and poster submissions from members. Also, check out our new and improved NYSABA website. Finally, take a look at the NYSABA Parent & Family website at www.nysabaparent.org, which includes free resources for parents and family members of consumers of behavior analysis services. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2021 from New York!