By Ohud Alhaqbani
ABA Saudi Arabia
ABA Saudi Arabia was accepted as an affiliated chapter of ABAI on May 31, 2013. After nine years since the establishment of the chapter, ABA Saudi Arabia is taking responsibility to commit to its mission statement. ABA Saudi Arabia was established with the mission to disseminate information about the science of behavior analysis and support the development of and access to behavior analytic services for people in need. To accomplish this mission, the chapter seeks to support the development of graduate opportunities for appropriate candidates in Saudi Arabia, plan and support continuing education (CE) for practicing behavior analysts, and advocate for the right to community-based access to behavior analytic services through governmental and regulatory channels. The founding and current officers are Faisal Alnemary, Ph.D, BCBA, President; Mona AlHaddad,Ph.D., BCBA, Vice President. In addition, the chapter established an executive committee to support and promote the chapter’s mission. This committee consists of 10 senior behavior analysts, including the current president and vice president. All members of the executive committee are P.h.D holders and BCBAs or BCBA-D. ABA Saudi Arabia started to seek various venues to recruit and increase the number of its members through sharing the membership registration form electronically and by providing barcodes to scan during ABA awareness events. Currently, the ABA Saudi Arabia has a membership of around 148 members, consisting of certified behavior analysts and practicing behavior therapists, students (graduate and undergraduate), speech pathologists, and community-based individuals interested in behavior analysis in Saudi Arabia. As one aim of our mission is to disseminate the science of ABA to different communities in Saudi Arabia, the chapter continues to provide workshops to people in the community including parents, practitioners at intervention centers (e.g., Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, HRH Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Autism Centers, Jeddah Autism Center, Saudi Association for Autism, Jeddah Institute for Speech and Hearing, Autism Center of Excellence , Center for Autism Research, and Rushed), and schools’ teachers. Many who attend these workshops are looking for certification in ABA through accredited short courses or intense seminars (e.g., RBTs). Due to this fact, the chapter’s mission is to keep spreading awareness of ABA and credentialed people who are qualified to provide ABA services. As a result, the number of BACB certificates has increased over the years to more than 200 (RBTs, BCaBAs, BCBAs and BCBA-D) as of March 2023. In the following section, we list several activities that have been carried out by the members of the chapter to continue our efforts to disseminate behavior analysis across Saudi Arabia. ABAI Saudi Chapter members have participated in a variety of activities and programs in 2022 and in first quarter (Q1) of 2023, including the following:
2022 ABAI Saudi Chapter’s Activities
Several ABA services providers obtained BCHOE accreditation in Saudi Arabia (2•3 accreditation). We should consider this accomplishment as a sign of the advancement to our field and a step to promote regulation for our field.
The Autism Center of Excellence launched the 3rd patch “the 100 Specialists Initiative,” a free-of-charge professional development program to prepare the next generation of behavior technicians (the basics of ABA in 40 hours following the 2nd BACB task list) working in daycare across Saudi Arabia.
The Center for Autism Research (CFAR) started a free-of-charge virtual Toilet Training program.
While a couple of centers and training platforms have been approved as BACB providers of CEUs (e.g., CFAR, ACE, Rushed, and the Seven Dimension Platforms), other centers obtained approval from other entities, QABA as a provider of CEUs.
2023 ABAI Saudi Chapter’s Activities
The 2nd Saudi Autism
& ABA Research Conference (SARC• 2)
The efforts of disseminating ABA and its evidence-based practices were acknowledged for the first time by the Ministry of Health by adding ABA in the title of its annual conference for the first time. This event is considered historical for ABA in Saudi Arabia. Also, members of the ABA Saudi Chapter were main speakers in this conference and presented their research projects, conducted workshops and participated in discussion with other health care providers. One of the conference recommendations that was publicly announced is to approve ABA evidence-based practices as one of the main interventions for individuals with autism in public and private sectors. This announcement brings hope to one of the main ABA Saudi Chapter’s objectives to legitimate the since of ABA and its practice in Saudi Arabia.
World Behavior Analysis Day
The chapter affiliated University, Dar AlHekma, celebrated the world behavior analysis day at AlSerfi Mall, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Several students from the Master program in ABA participated in this event by having interactive activities with the public to educate them about ABA. The chapter was also present at this event and oriented visitors about the chapter’s mission and activities, in addition to offering membership for the interested ones.
Moreover, the chapter’s members assist in obtaining new ABA professional credentials from various boards, including QABA and IBAO. Therefore, only some centers and training platforms have been approved as course providers for QABA and IBAO. Furthermore, some of the members have translated several documents and provided independent talks to spread the words about behavior analysis in Arabic.
ABAI Saudi Chapter members, continue to run our biweekly virtual meetings with the executive committee to inform members about the chapter’s activities. Finally, we are planning to recruit new officers due the increased numbers of chapter’s members and the relocation of the previous chapter officers, followed by marketing the chapter through recruiting new members and increasing the number of trainings to promote awareness about ABA.
ABA Saudi Arabia welcomes members at the full, affiliate, and student levels. Membership is free of charge, and it is open to all individuals interested or actively engaged in behavior analysis. For the time being until we become an associate chapter, any person wishing to become a member must submit a completed application form. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for membership information.