Speech Pathology Applied Behavior Analysis SIG

By Nikia Dower 


The Speech Pathology-Applied Behavior Analysis (SPABA) SIG mission is to promote dissemination of behaviorally oriented speech and language research and the application of evidence-based practices to speech and language professionals, as well as to foster active dialogue between behavior analysts and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) studying issues in speech, language, feeding, and communication, including augmentative-alternative communication. 


SPABA SIG is grateful for the support and guidance of former chair, Barb Esch. We would also like to thank our current officers and volunteers: Tracie Lindblad and Nikia Dower (Co-Chairs), Clodagh Murray (Grant Competition and Awards Coordinator), Heather Forbes (Treasurer), Sari Risen (Membership Coordinator), Lina Slim (Secretary), Deirdre Muldoon (Communications Coordinator). and Sophie Millon (Community of Practice Event Coordinator). 


We are proud to announce that there now 490 SLPs who are BCBAs or BCaBAs worldwide. We are present in 43 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and 17 countries outside the United States. We continue to provide and maintain an online database of practitioners dually certified as SLPs and BCBAs/BCaBAs from around the world https://www.behavioralspeech.com/search-for-an- slpbcba.html. 


In our 2022-2023 membership cycle, our paid membership decreased to 20 members who provided a donation with 4 being student members. SPABA continues to provide a significant amount of free access to SIG information and interaction through social media; therefore, when the combination of formal members and SPABA Facebook group members are calculated, we are pleased to report a total of 9510 formal and informal members which is an increase of 437 from our last report. The SPABA Facebook group has enabled our members to connect with each other to share or request pertinent information in a timelier fashion. Since the decision to make the SPABA Facebook group an open group for anyone requesting to join without requiring SIG paid membership, the interest in this group continues to increase yearly. 


Membership fees and donations go directly to fund our annual grant competition. For the past six years, our decision to ask for a nominal membership fee + a donation gave us mixed results. Starting in 2020 and continuing to date, great effort has been put into our membership drive as well as public displays of gratitude on social media when a member signed up and donated. 


SPABA offers three $250 annual grants: the Giri Hegde Empirical Research Grant, the Barb Esch Application Grant, and the Nikia Dower Dissemination Grant. These grants are available to ABAI members who, as students or practicing clinicians, conduct empirical research or raise awareness about behavior analysis among SLPs. Research projects advance the evidence base for behavior analytic conceptualization or treatment of speech, language, communication, and feeding disorders. Application and dissemination projects involve effective application of the science- based principles of behavior by SLPs or distribution of accurate information about the science- based field of behavior analysis among SLPs. We are pleased to announce that several of SPABA’s previous grant recipients have had their research published. 

SPABA SIG did not participate in ABAI’s annual conference in Denver in 2023 and as such, SPABA SIG’s 2023 grant recipients presented their research virtually after the convention. Each year, student members and practitioners may obtain updated information about submitting grant proposals for the current year on our website, www.behavioralspeech.com. 


During 2022, formal and informal members of the SIG continued to be active conducting research, disseminating information regarding evidence-based practice, applying the principles of applied behavior analysis to the research and treatment of speech, language, feeding and communication disorders in children and adults, publishing scholarly articles, conducting webinars, starting podcasts, speaking on podcasts, creating digital material, speaking and conducting workshops at professional conventions, presenting posters at professional conferences and teaching and/or mentoring students in both the fields of ABA and speech pathology. While most of these activities took place in North America, several were done internationally and as such, furthered the SIG’s mission. Our members presented at least 153 times during 2022 including the ABAI 2022 Annual Convention, annual state speech/language association conferences, annual state applied behavior analysis association conferences, numerous webinars, podcasts and a few members were interviewed on their local news channels. Many members were presenters at non-speech/non-behavior analytic conferences as well. A list of presentations can be found here: https://www.pinterest.com/SPABASIGofABAI/2022- slp-bcba-presentations/ 


SPABA is committed to the consistent dissemination of ABAI’s Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Between Behavior Analysts and Speech-Language Pathologists resource document to both behavior analysts and speech-language pathologists. We remain grateful for ABAI’s initiative in producing this important document and are proud that two SPABA Executive Committee members were among the four authors. 

SPABA hosts on our website the work of M.N. Hegde, PhD. His contributions to the speech- language field while applying a behavior-analytic lens is truly inspiring. 

SPABA produces a periodic electronic newsletter as a paid member benefit. 


SPABA has continued to offer free, community of practice events (SCOPE). Topics ranged from the Motivating Operation to ABA – Augmentative & Alternative Communication – Speech Generating Devices. In 2022, SPABA became a CE provider via the BACB. The SIG is planning on offering CEs for SCOPE in 2023 as well as offering behavior-analytic speech/language content in the form of workshops and webinars. 

SPABA’s ongoing and consistent social media presence helped in dissemination across disciplines. The SPABA SIG continues to be regularly active via our Facebook group, Facebook page, as well as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest accounts and our LinkedIn page. 


The SPABA SIG Executive Committee is looking forward to expanding our membership through various initiatives, social media and increasing member participation on the executive team and within our committees. We are also planning to complete several projects over the year to support our members: 

  1. Develop web-based tutorials and in-person courses to disseminate information regarding a behavioral approach to the study and treatment of speech, language, communication and feeding disorders in children and adults. 
  1. Work with the Verbal Behavior SIG and Behavioral Gerontology SIG on joint programs and initiatives. 
  1. Continue disseminating behavior analytic information to ASHA members through the ASHA community forum listserv and to US and international speech pathologists via various speech/language Facebook groups as well as presenting at speech/language conferences and conventions. 
  1. Continue disseminating speech-language information to ABAI members and BACB certified individuals via various behavior-analytic Facebook groups and list-servs as well as presenting at ABA conferences and conventions. 
  1. Continue disseminating inter-professional collaboration information across related disciplines and fields to maximize outcomes for shared consumers of our services. This collaboration has strong benefits and enhances communication between our related professions. 
    The identified initiatives are feasible only with increased financial support from our members. Please consider donating your expertise/services in-kind, making financial contributions, or providing committee support so that we may meet the needs of our membership and complete our targeted activities. 
    If you are interested in learning more about the SPABA SIG, wish to volunteer to sit on a committee, or assist with a specific project, please visit us at www.behavioralspeech.com and join or follow us on social media: 
    Facebook Group: SPABA.SIG Facebook Page: SPABASIGofABAI Twitter: SPABASIG 
    Instagram: SPABASIG 
    Pinterest: SPABASIGofABAI 
    LinkedIn:  speech-pathology-applied-behavior-analysis-special-interest-group-of-abai 

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