By Monica Peters, Michael Palmer, Nicole Robinson, Amy Lays, Jessie MacNeil, Rachel Platt, Ashley Kingston
The Atlantic Provinces Association for Behaviour Analysis has recently marked our seventh anniversary as an affiliated chapter of ABAI. We are amazed by the growth in membership that we have experienced since our inception in 2014, from 44 members in our first year to a large increase in membership of 98 at the end of APABA’s fiscal year (October). We have 82 full members, 15 student members, and 1 honourary member. Although the wide geographical region served by APABA poses some unique challenges, we also recognize the benefits and opportunities we are afforded by drawing together behaviour analysts, educators, interventionists, partner professionals, and others interested in behavioural science and its application in the four Atlantic Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. We’ve also seen a continued increase in the number of members and partner professionals completing the requirements to become certified by the BACB since the inception of APABA.
While there were 16 Board Certified Behaviour Analysts or Board-Certified Assistant Behaviour Analysts in Atlantic Canada in 2014, and 26 in 2017, we now have 97 (NB=55; NL=7; NS=28; PEI=7; www.bacb.com).
Our biggest update for the 2021 year is the publication of our Statement on the Professional Practice of Behaviour Analysis in the Atlantic Provinces. This document outlines recommendations for the minimum standards of qualification for practicing applied behaviour analysis for the region. This was a product of our 2020–2022 strategic plan outlining APABA’s goals and actions over those two years. Goals outlined in the strategic plan include: To increase the number of active members by 30%, to increase the yearly number of professional learning opportunities offered from five to nine, and to fulfill the needs of each committee with needed number of members. APABA committees include: Research & Advocacy, Education, and Engagement. Each committee has goals, expectations and priorities outlined based on the goals in the strategic plan. The statement was an outcome of the Research & Advocacy committee.
A primary goal of APABA is to promote and encourage the development and awareness of the science of behaviour analysis through research, education, and practice within our region. We also seek to facilitate networking and expand opportunities for professional connection and collaboration among and between our members and others in the field. To that end, APABA has participated in multiple ABAI Annual Conventions, presenting posters at the conferences in San Antonio (2015), Chicago (2016), Denver (2017), San Diego (2018), Chicago (2019), and Washington (2020). Our members have also presented at ABAI’s international conferences, such as Puerto Rico and Paris. Our members are delivering training throughout and beyond the Atlantic Provinces and, at times, internationally, such as Switzerland and Paris. In order to support the professional learning needs of our members, three member benefits need mentioning:
We dedicate a portion of our Annual General Meeting each fall to continuing education, focusing on areas of emerging need and interest among members. Past keynote presenters have included: Drs. Robyn Catagnus and Elizabeth Fong who shared theirwork on increasing cultural competence in behaviour analysts, supporting APABA members to engage in more culturally proficient professional practice, Drs. Kelly Schieltz, Matthew O’Briend, and Todd Kopelman, who trained attendees on the use of telehealth to train and coach interventionists supporting learners with ASD, Dr. Patrick McGreevy who trained attendees on in how to select a curriculum for children with autism and children with developmental disabilities and Dr. Gregory Hanley who presented on the latest iteration of the practical functional assessment process (PFA) that allows for the development of skill based treatments (SBTs) capable of producing socially valid outcomes. Our 2021 AGM professional development was led by Dr. John Bailey who presented on the upcoming changes to the BACB Ethics Code.
As a new professional learning initiative, started in July 2020, APABA also holds continuing education and professional development events approximately bi-monthly for its members. In February 2022 APABA hosted Brent Platt to discuss how to market oneself and your profession. In December 2021, APABA hosted Dr. Ellie Kazemi to discuss supervision and leadership. In June 2021, APABA hosted Dr. Robert Ross to discuss the behavioural indicators of effective ABA program implementation. In May 2021, APABA hosted Dr. Elizabeth Fong to discuss diversity, ABA, and looking inward. This event’s proceeds went towards our BIPOC scholarship. In April 2021, APABA hosted Ryan O’Donnell to discuss using narrative in behaviour analysis.
A third new professional learning initiative, APABA members are offered a 10% discount to the Atlantic Provinces Autism Conference held virtually in November.
Since APABA serves such a broad geographical region spanning Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces, it is essential that we make effective and efficient use of electronic media and web based platforms as we seek to support current members and reach prospective new members. The Engagement committee releases a monthly newsletter to share information about recent and upcoming events. The ABAPA website (www.atlanticprovincesaba.com), which continues to evolve, is also an integral tool for communicating with members. Not only does it provide a central location for sharing information and resources, but it has also been expanded to allow for online registration and payment for APABA events (as well as online donations to our local awards) and to provide a gateway to APABA’s social media presence through our Facebook page and Twitter account.
APABA continues to provide awards to its members, including the Verna O’Coin Memorial Bursary, the Marlene Breitenbach Award, and the William L Heward Behaviour Change Award for a Sustainable Future. A new scholarship was also established to support Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) students in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis in the Atlantic Provinces. This scholarship will be awarded on a bi-annual basis to the successful applicants and has thus far been awarded to two applicants.
The Research and Advocacy committee has proven to be a key avenue towards dissemination of the science. First, it was pivotal in the development of the Statement on the Professional Practice of Behaviour Analysis in the Atlantic Provinces. But it has also created several other infographics that members can use to help promote the field, including an infographic describing what ABA is and infographic describing how behaviour plans should be unique to clients. Recently, the committee also completed a series of interviews with members across the Atlantic Provinces to highlight the various ways ABA is being used in our region.
Between 2018 and end of 2020, all of the goals outlined in the 2018-2020 strategic plan were met. A new strategic plan was developed by the executive in June 2020. Starting in December 2021, the executive made the decision to turn the strategic plan into a living document to be reviewed and updated at each executive meeting.
Finally we continue to be an ACE provider to be able to provide CEUs to our members.
APABA has been the beneficiary of a host of gracious gestures and an abundance of support from behaviour analysts and partner professionals since we first set out on this journey four years ago. We continue to extend our sincere appreciation to all who have helped us along the way. As our membership continues to grow and as we extend our reach across Atlantic Canada, our goal is to continue and build upon the initiatives that we have begun and to create new opportunities and pathways to share the value of behavioural science throughout our region.
As part of this movement, we have been encouraging social get-togethers in our varied geographic regions, even if they are virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. We also look forward to, and welcome, opportunities to connect with other ABAI-affiliated chapters across Canada and beyond to expand opportunities for professional learning, networking, and collaboration.