Extending and Evaluating Culturally Sensitive ABA Services to Spanish-Speaking Caregivers Who Live in Puerto Rico

By Anniette Maldonado, 2022 awardee of an Innovative Student Research Grant in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Anniette (Annie) Maldonado, MSEd, BCBA, LBA is a fourth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Utah studying school psychology with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (ABA). Her research broadly centers around equity of accessibility to evidence-based practices for individuals from minoritized backgrounds, cultural and linguistic adaptations to behavioral evidence-based interventions, and interdisciplinary assessment and intervention.

For her dissertation project which was generously funded by SABA’s Innovative Student Research Grant in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Annie is extending and evaluating culturally sensitive ABA services to Spanish-speaking caregivers who live in Puerto Rico. Specifically, Annie is evaluating a broader adaptation of the Autism Network’s Research Units in Behavioral Intervention (RUBI) Parent Training for Disruptive Behaviors (Bearss et al., 2018) on caregivers’ management of challenging child behaviors alongside the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) supports to help caregivers of children diagnosed with autism manage stress. The adaptations to be implemented in this study followed the Ecological Validity Model (EVM; Bernal et al., 1995) and the Cultural Adaptation Process Model (CAP; Domenech-Rodríguez and Wieling, 2004).

As these services and research intervention will be provided remotely via telehealth, the funds received will assist with the provision of devices and access to internet for participating families. These resources will help provide much-needed evidence-based services to the target population, especially as ABA providers are scarce on the island. Additionally, Annie’s project will add to the literature and inform researchers and clinicians about cultural and linguistic adaptations to ABA services targeting both child behavior and caregiver stress.

Annie is honored for the support received through SABA’s grant for her dissertation research. She would also like to thank Drs. Aaron Fischer and Keith Radley, her dissertation committee, her UofU cohort and program mates, and her friends and family for their support during her doctoral training at UofU.

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