ABA Saudi Arabia

Photo by said alamri on Unsplash

By Faisal Alnemary & Mona Alhaddad

ABA Saudi Arabia was accepted as an affiliated chapter of ABAI on May 31, 2013. After seven years since the establishment of the chapter, ABA Saudi Arabia is taking responsibility to commit to its mission statement.

ABA Saudi Arabia was established with the mission to disseminate information about the science of behavior analysis and support the development of and access to behavior analytic services for people in need. To accomplish this mission, the chapter seeks to support the development of graduate opportunities for appropriate candidates in Saudi Arabia, plan and support continuing education (CE) for practicing behavior analysts, and advocate for the right to community-based access to behavior analytic services through governmental and regulatory channels.

The founding and current officers are Faisal Alnemary, Ph.D, BCBA, president; Mona AlHaddad, MEd., BCBA, vice president; Shayma Omar, Ph.D, secretary; Shumaila Jaffrey, treasurer; and Wafe Aljohani, PhD BCBA, publication and marketing officer.

ABA Saudi Arabia currently has a membership of around 70 members, consisting of practicing behavior analysts, students (graduate and undergraduate), speech pathologists, and community-based individuals interested in behavior analysis in Saudi Arabia. As one aim of our mission is to disseminate the science of ABA to different communities in Saudi Arabia, the chapter continues to provide workshops to people in the community including parents, practitioners at intervention centers (e.g., Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, HRH Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Autism Centers, Jeddah Autism Center, Saudi Association for Autism, Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing, Autism Center of Excellence, and Center for Autism Research), and school teachers. Many who attend these workshops are looking for certification in ABA through accredited short courses or intense seminars (e.g., RBTs). Due to this fact, the chapter’s mission is to keep spreading awareness of ABA and credentialed people who are qualified to provide ABA services. As a result, the number of BCBA certificants has increased over the years to reach 100 as of May 2021.

Members of the chapter carried out several activities to continue our effort to disseminate behavior analysis across Saudi Arabia.

First, the chapter is committed to continue its effort in regulating the practice of ABA and its profession through governmental entities, such as the Saudi Health Council (SHC), the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties (SCfHS), and other governmental entities affiliated with Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD). The chapter is continuing the efforts that were taken last year (mentioned in the previous report), when Dr. Alnemary, BCBA, (on March 11, 2020) and on behalf of all practicing behavior analysts in Saudi Arabia, presented a proposal to the MHRSD to establish a local licensing or certification program in applied behavior analysis. This is still a work in progress. However, we recognize the increased number of individuals interested in ABA through attending the synchronised workshops and seminars conducted throughout the year 2020–2021.

Also, one of the unique efforts was the First Virtual Saudi Applied Behavior Analysis Symposium, which was organized by Dar Alhekma University in partnership with the Autism Center of Excellence, Riyadh and the Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing. The symposium shed light on the history, present and future of ABA in Saudi Arabia and was very successful in attracting interested people, behavior analysts, health practitioners, parents, and stakeholders in Saudi Arabia and the GCC region. Both the ABA Saudi Arabia chapter’s president and vice president had presentations at the symposium where the activities and initiatives done by the chapter were discussed and shared with participants. The Symposium was held on March 19–20, 2021 with 13 International, regional and national speakers and eight workshops dedicated for families, and four of them with CEUs.

Also, we continue to run our biweekly virtual meetings to inform members about the chapter’s activities. Furthermore, some of the members have translated several documents and provided independent talks to spread the words about behavior analysis.

Finally, we are planning to recruit new officers due the relocation of the previous chapter officers, followed by marketing the chapter through recruiting new members and increasing the number of training to promote awareness about ABA.

ABA Saudi Arabia welcomes members at the full, affiliate, and student levels. Membership is open to all individuals interested or actively engaged in behavior analysis. For the time being until we become an associate chapter, any person wishing to become a member must submit a completed application form and pay annual membership dues. Contact abasaudiarabia@gmail.com or malhaddad@dah.edu.sa for membership information.

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