Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan

Photo by Brad West on Unsplash

By James T. Todd

We are pleased to once again report the success of behavior analysis in Michigan, and the many positive contributions of our members to the effective, ethical, and science-based treatment of problems associated with autism, traumatic brain injury, addiction, and other conditions—but also not forgetting the important work of those in Organizational Behavior Management, behavioral medicine, education, behavioral research, university and college instruction, animal training, and other areas. Licensure of Behavior Analysts in Michigan is official and has, by all reports, been running smoothly, with hundreds of new Licensed Behavior Analysts in the State.

The Annual convention of the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan (BAAM) was a great success. It was held February 20-21, 2020, at the Student Center on the campus of Eastern Michigan University (EMU). We had over 700 attendees, down about 50 from the previous year, making the conference attendance better fit the venue. The 700-plus attendees came from more than a two dozen universities and colleges, over a dozen states, and two Canadian provinces. The continuing high attendance figure, along with that of the Michigan Autism Conference, offered by our friends at Western Michigan University, speaks to the tremendous success of behavior analysis in Michigan.

BAAM attempted to streamline the number and type of sessions to fit the conference more effectively into our venue, which is also under new management. Sessions were booked in the largest rooms available, and we were successful in accommodating our attendees in the sessions they wanted to see. We are especially grateful to the students at Western Michigan University for their many fine poster presentations and enthusiastic participation in our largest-ever poster session.

Many local and regional agencies sent staff and administrators, reflecting the expansion of behavior analysis opportunities in the state. The growing participation of faculty and students from Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, and Oakland University, and University of Toledo did not go unnoticed. We were pleased to be able offer some space in our schedule and poster session to our friends in related areas of clinical and applied intervention. BAAM very much appreciates and recognizes the work of others who do good science-based, empirical investigations of behavior.

BAAM scheduled all regular sessions in meeting rooms overlooking EMU’s Lake House area. BAAM extends special thanks to the staff of the EMU Event Planning Office, especially Meg Castor, the Catering Department, and to all the workers in the Student Center for their contributions to making the conference run smoothly. The support of the Eastern Michigan University Psychology Department, BAAM’s sponsor, was again essential to our success. Special thanks go to the BAAM staff and volunteers, led by Eastern Michigan University students Eleah Sunde, Elise Pearl, and Caitlyn Sorensen-Kowalski.

BAAM once again had two Keynote addresses. The Thursday Keynote, “Young Skinner on Stimulus and Response Classes,” was delivered by David Palmer of Smith College. Palmer’s well-received presentation gave us the history of the develop of the concepts of stimulus and response classes, as revealed in B.F. Skinner’s early writings. The Friday Keynote, “The War on Science: The Invasion of ABA?,” by Kimberly A. Schreck of Pennsylvania State Harrisburg, described how the recent attacks on basic and applied science have affected behavior analysis, and led many, including some behavior analysts, to embrace and endorse pseudoscientific ideas and interventions.

The many other convention sessions are too numerous to fully list. Here is just a sampling: “”An Important Chapter in the Story of Behaviorism,” by Jay Moore (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee); “Enhancing the Seven Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis With Dieter Rams’s Ten Principles of Design,” by James T. Todd (Eastern Michigan University); ” The ACT Hexaflex through the Lens of Traditional Behavior Analysis,” by Scott T. Gaynor (Western Michigan University); “Oral Desensitization: A Missing Piece to Treating Pediatric Feeding Disorders?” by Natalie K. Morris (University of Michigan Medical Center), “Recent Research on Social and Play Skills in Children with Autism,” chaired by Emma S. Sipila-Thomas (Michigan State University); “Effects of Schedule Modifications on Toilet Training Children with Disabilities,” by Nicole Hollins, Rebecca L. Kolb, and Stephanie M. Peterson (Western Michigan University).

The writing was on the wall for BAAM’s 2021 conference, which was cancelled early due to COVID restrictions. For the protection of everyone involved, BAAM began planning on a limited set of online offerings to be held at about the same time as the annual conference in 2021. If restrictions are lifted, BAAM will hold an in-person (or in-person/online hybrid convention) on February 24-25, 2022 in the Student Center on the Eastern Michigan University campus. The 2022 conference dates are tentative. We anticipate some limitations in capacity, even if an in-person conference is possible. BAAM again intends to continue to offer a mix of basic, applied, and theoretical presentations and workshops. Online program submission and registration will again be available, and we look even greater attendance, and will add some new convention features to accommodate the growth. For more information, visit the BAAM website at

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