By Loukia Tsami, 2021 International Development Grant

The recipient of 2021 SABA International Development grant, Loukia Tsami, works as a research associate at the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Houston Clear Lake. Tsami and her colleagues have been disseminating behavior analysis internationally since 2016 and have established relationships with parent groups and professionals who work with children with disabilities and have minimal resources. They deliver services via telehealth not only to people located in large cities, but also in isolated communities in over 34 countries in Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. However, financial constraint is one of the largest impediments to this project. For example, less than half of people living in Africa have access to the internet (data retrieved from www.internetworldstats.com ).

This SABA grant will help support services to families in Africa in three ways. First, the funds will cover the internet fees for two families with children with disabilities to receive direct behavior analytic services via telehealth at their houses. Tsami from the United States will meet with the parents and children weekly to conduct functional communication training sessions for a minimum of 3 months. Second, funds will support two educational trainings for teachers, speech therapists, other professionals who are interested in learning more about autism and how to support this population.  Last, the funds will support a pilot project in Botswana to increase awareness of behavior analysis and establish the profession of Behavioral Technician (BT) as “interventionist” with the Botswana Quality Assurance Authority Board. This is a first step in recognition of Behavior Analysis services in the country. Maleshwane Mauco, the only BCBA in the country, will serve as the coordinator of the project in Botswana. Tsami and Mauco will develop a 40-hour BT competency level instruction curriculum and train 10 individuals in-vivo and via telehealth. Through follow up probe sessions, the behavior therapists will evaluate generalization and maintenance of the skills taught to the BTs. The findings of all projects were presented in a conference in Gaborone supported by Botswana government officials in April 2022.