Speech Pathology SIG

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

By Nikia Dower

The Speech Pathology-Applied Behavior Analysis (SPABA) SIG mission is to promote dissemination of behaviorally oriented speech and language research and the application of evidence-based practices to speech and language professionals, as well as to foster active dialogue between behavior analysts and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) studying issues in speech, language, feeding, and communication, including augmentative-alternative communication.

SPABA SIG is grateful for the support and guidance of former chair, Barb Esch. We would also like to thank our current officers and volunteers: Tracie Lindblad and Nikia Dower (co-chairs), Trina Spencer (Grant Competition and Awards coordinator), Heather Forbes (treasurer), Sari Risen (Membership coordinator), Lina Slim (secretary), Deirdre Muldoon (Communications coordinator). and Sophie Millon (Community of Practice Event coordinator). We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Sudha Ramaswamy for being our Grant Competition and Awards Coordinator for the past several years.

World-Wide SLP-BCBA and SLP-BCaBA
We are proud to announce that there now 429 SLPs who are BCBAs or BCaBAs worldwide. We are present in 44 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and 12 countries outside the United States. We continue to provide and maintain an online database of practitioners dually certified as SLPs and BCBAs/BCaBAs from around the world. Our improved and updated website has enabled us to continue connecting with our members and any interested professionals. Our ongoing and consistent social media presence helped grow SPABA SIG in 2020. The SPABA SIG continues to be regularly active via our Facebook group, Facebook page, as well as Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.

In our 2020–2021 membership cycle, our paid membership increased to 106 (yes, 106!) members who provided a donation with 11 being student members. We are beyond thrilled that our paid membership for 2020–2021 was up by 92 paid members! SPABA provides a significant amount of free access to SIG information and interaction through social media; therefore, when the combination of formal members and SPABA Facebook group members is calculated, we are pleased to report a total of 8,288 formal and informal members which is an increase of 1,335 from our last report. The SPABA Facebook group has enabled our members to connect with each other to share or request pertinent information in a timelier fashion. Since our decision to make our Facebook group an open group for anyone requesting to join without requiring SIG paid membership, the interest in this group continues to increase exponentially.

Membership fees and donations go directly to fund our annual grant competition. Pleasantly surprised during this membership cycle, our operating funds increased significantly. For the past five years, our decision to ask for a nominal membership fee + a donation gave us mixed results. In 2020, great effort was put into our membership drive as well as public displays of gratitude on social media when a member signed up and donated. In addition, 100% of the SPABA SIG Executive Committee has donated to the SIG.

Annual Grants
SPABA now offers three $250 annual grants: the Giri Hegde Empirical Research Grant, the Barb Esch Application Grant, and the Nikia Dower Dissemination Grant. These grants are available to ABAI members who, as students or practicing clinicians, conduct empirical research or raise awareness about behavior analysis among SLPs. Research projects should advance the evidence base for behavior analytic conceptualization or treatment of speech, language, communication, and feeding disorders. Application and dissemination projects should involve effective application of the science-based principles of behavior by SLPs or distribution of accurate information about the science-based field of behavior analysis among SLPs. We are pleased to announce that several of SPABA’s previous grant recipients have had their research published.

The SPABA SIG’s 2021 grant recipients presented their research virtually at the SIG’s business meeting during ABAI’s annual convention. Each year, student members and practitioners may obtain updated information about submitting grant proposals for the current year on our website.

SIG Member Activities
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic affected the ability of many to present in person for the bulk of the 2020-2021 membership cycle, formal and informal members of the SIG continued to be active conducting research, disseminating information regarding evidence-based practice, applying the principles of applied behavior analysis to the research and treatment of speech, language, feeding and communication disorders in children and adults, publishing scholarly articles, conducting webinars, starting podcasts, speaking on podcasts, creating digital material, speaking and conducting workshops at professional conventions, presenting posters at professional conferences and teaching and/or mentoring students in both the fields of ABA and speech pathology. While most of these activities took place in North America, several were done internationally and as such, furthered the SIG’s mission. Our members presented at least 62 times during 2020 including ABAI 2020 Annual Convention, annual state speech/language association conferences, annual state applied behavior analysis association conferences and numerous webinars and podcasts. Many members were presenters at non-speech/non-behavior analytic conferences as well. SPABA member, Rebekah Lee was awarded one the of Sidney W. and Janet R. Bijou Grants in 2020.

Current Initiatives
SPABA began production of an electronic quarterly newsletter in June 2020 as a paid member benefit. SPABA has also offered free, monthly, community of practice events (SCOPE). Topics ranged from stimulus control, prompts/prompt fading, data collection, interprofessional practice and remembering Jack Michael.

SPABA is committed to the consistent dissemination of ABAI’s Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Between Behavior Analysts and Speech-Language Pathologists resource document to both behavior analysts and speech-language pathologists. We are grateful for ABAI’s initiative in producing this important document and are proud that two SPABA Executive Committee members were among the four authors.

SPABA has been gained the distinct honor of hosting on our website the work of M. N. Hegde, Ph.D. His contributions to the speech-language field while applying a behavior-analytic lens is truly inspiring.

Future Initiatives
The SPABA SIG Executive Committee is looking forward to expanding our membership through various initiatives, social media and increasing member participation on the executive and within our committees. We are also planning to complete several projects over the year to support our members:

  • Develop web-based tutorials and in-person courses to disseminate information regarding a behavioral approach to the study and treatment of speech, language, communication and feeding disorders in children and adults.
  • Work with the Verbal Behavior SIG and Behavioral Gerontology SIG on joint programs and initiatives.
  • Continue disseminating behavior analytic information to ASHA members through the ASHA community forum listserv and to US and international speech pathologists via various speech/language Facebook groups as well as presenting at speech/language conferences and conventions.
  • Continue disseminating speech-language information to ABAI members and BACB certified individuals via various behavior-analytic Facebook groups and list-servs as well as presenting at ABA conferences and conventions.
  • Continue disseminating interprofessional collaboration information across related disciplines and fields to maximize outcomes for shared consumers of our services. This collaboration has strong benefits and enhances communication between our related professions.

The identified initiatives are feasible only with increased financial support from our members. Please consider donating your expertise/services in-kind, making financial contributions, or providing committee support so that we may meet the needs of our membership and complete our targeted activities.

If you are interested in learning more about the SPABA SIG, wish to volunteer to sit on a committee, or assist with a specific project, please visit us online and join or follow us on social media:

  • Facebook Group: SPABA.SIG
  • Facebook Page: SPABASIGofABAI
  • Twitter: SPABASIG
  • Instagram: SPABASIG
  • Pinterest: SPABASIGofABAI

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