Academic Edge: A Closer Look at Certification Changes for Behavior Analysts What do new credentialing requirements for board-certified behavior analysts mean for SLPs? Academic Edge
Free
Academic Edge  |   April 01, 2014
Academic Edge: A Closer Look at Certification Changes for Behavior Analysts
Author Notes
  • Amy Donaldson, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Portland State University and an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education. She is a member of the new Oregon Behavior Analysis Regulatory Board. This article reflects only her views; it does not represent the views of the board. ■adonald@pdx.edu
    Amy Donaldson, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Portland State University and an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education. She is a member of the new Oregon Behavior Analysis Regulatory Board. This article reflects only her views; it does not represent the views of the board. ■adonald@pdx.edu×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / Academic Edge
Academic Edge   |   April 01, 2014
Academic Edge: A Closer Look at Certification Changes for Behavior Analysts
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.AE.19042014.np
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.AE.19042014.np
Speech-language pathologists are often integral members of intervention teams serving children with autism spectrum disorder. However, we are not alone on the team. Children with ASD present with complex developmental profiles that often require varied services to target deficits in communication, social, cognitive, adaptive, motor and play skills. Interdisciplinary collaboration and service coordination are paramount in supporting children with ASD and their families.
Practitioners who use principles of applied behavior analysis, or ABA, are often key players on these interdisciplinary teams. These professionals represent a variety of disciplines—behavior analysts, psychologists, special educators, “autism specialists” and SLPs, to name a few. Several reviews of the current intervention research, such as the National Standards Project, have indicated that, for many children with ASD, intervention based on ABA principles helps improve skills across developmental domains. (For more information on current evidence-based practices, see bit.ly/autism-ebp.)
It can be helpful to SLPs to understand more about ABA and the process used to certify behavior analysts, as well as ways that SLPs may use ABA principles in their practice.
Q What is ABA?
This question is important, because misunderstanding the term can be an unfortunate barrier to successful team collaboration. ABA is a scientific approach to understanding—through data analysis—how the environment (intervention) affects behavior in functional and meaningful ways. It is not one type of intervention method or approach. In fact, many different approaches to intervention, from structured to naturalistic, are rooted in principles of ABA, particularly for children with ASD (for example, Pivotal Response Training, Picture Exchange Communication System and discrete trial training—see sources).
Q What is board certification in behavior analysis?
The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) is the national credentialing body that governs certification and ongoing credentialing of behavior analysts. There are three levels of certification for behavior analysts:
  • Board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) is a master’s- or doctoral-level practitioner who independently conducts descriptive and systematic behavioral assessments (for example, functional behavior analysis); designs, implements and oversees behavioral interventions; and upholds the ethical requirements of the discipline. These professionals supervise others who implement behavior analytic interventions. This credential has regulatory, ethical and continuing education requirements.

  • Board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA) is a bachelor’s-level practitioner who completes descriptive behavioral assessments and implements behavioral interventions within known or familiar contexts while upholding the ethical practices of the discipline. This professional may teach others to implement intervention and supervise behavioral technicians, under the supervision of a BCBA. This credential also has regulatory, ethical and continuing education requirements.

  • Registered behavior technician (RBT), sometimes referred to as a line therapist, is an individual who implements behavioral intervention plans under the direct supervision of a BCBA or BCaBA, but does not design intervention or assessment plans.

Q What are current certification requirements?
Current credentialing requirements (in effect through Dec. 31, 2015) for a BCBA include:
  • Degree. A master’s degree in education, speech-language pathology, clinical psychology, counseling or school psychology, clinical social work, occupational therapy, engineering or medicine (other master’s degrees may be considered on a case-by-case basis by BACB).

  • Training and experience. Options include coursework and supervised experience; college teaching and supervised experience; or doctoral degree and BCBA review.

Q How can SLPs obtain the required training and experience?
Coursework and supervised experience is the option most applicable to SLPs. These requirements include:
  1. 225 classroom hours of graduate-level instruction related to behavior analysis. At this time, coursework in behavior analysis taken in a speech-language pathology graduate program is acceptable (upon approval by BACB). However, given the extensive requirements of an accredited speech-language pathology program, SLPs most likely will not have met all BCBA coursework requirements in a typical graduate program. Therefore, SLPs would need to take additional behavior analysis-specific coursework.

  2. This option also requires supervised experience in behavior analysis. The BCBA requires supervised independent fieldwork for 1,500 hours, a supervised practicum for 1,000 hours, or a supervised intensive practicum for 750 hours; accumulation of supervised hours may not begin until the individual starts the approved course sequence. Current SLP students interested in dual SLP and BCBA certification may wish to seek out clinical fellowships that provide supervision in both disciplines. A practicing SLP who works regularly within a behavioral framework may wish to seek BCBA supervision within the context of his or her work setting.

  3. Successful completion of the BCBA examination.

Q I know that certification requirements are changing—will SLPs still be able to get BCBA certification?
The new BCBA certification requirements that go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, do not exclude SLPs from becoming BCBAs, but a degree in speech-language pathology will no longer qualify for the degree requirement portion of certification. This change will not affect those who obtain BCBA certification prior to Jan. 1, 2016.
The new certification standards will require a graduate degree in behavior analysis, education, psychology or another graduate degree program that includes a BACB-approved course sequence. Students may want to seek out dual-degree programs that offer master’s degrees in speech-language pathology and behavior analysis or complete two separate degree programs. Practicing SLPs would need to complete a degree program that meets the new requirements.
Given the rapidly increasing interest in behavior analysis and the natural fit between SLPs and BCBAs, we may start to see speech-language pathology graduate programs developing tracks to prepare dually certified professionals.
Q I’m an SLP who uses principles of behavior analysis. Do I need BCBA certification?
Professionals using behavioral principles are not required to hold BCBA certification. However, the intent of certification in any discipline is to ensure the practitioner establishes and maintains a specified level of training and meets all of the discipline’s practice and ethical guidelines. Mutual respect for the standards of colleagues within an interdisciplinary team goes a long way toward successful collaboration.
Q Does ABA certification affect my employer’s expectations?
Given the growing advocacy for insurance coverage of ABA-based services by organizations such as Autism Society of America and Autism Speaks and the increased focus on ABA-based training for autism specialization in schools (for example, bit.ly/ode-autism), SLPs may wonder if employers will soon require dual certification in speech-language pathology and applied behavior analysis. To date, this does not appear to be the case. Job openings for professionals serving children with ASD tend to separate these disciplines—employers are seeking SLPs or they are seeking BCBAs, not dual certification. However, given the expertise that SLPs bring to serving children with ASD and the increased focus on ABA services, a dually certified professional might be in high demand.
Given the rising prevalence of ASD, SLPs may increasingly use principles of behavior within their practice and/or collaborate with team members who do so. This article is intended as a brief introduction to ABA and the certification requirements for behavior analysts. The goal is to inform SLPs who may be interested in using ABA and to enhance communication among professionals who serve children with ASD.
Q Is behavior analysis a discipline?
Behavior analysis is a discipline within the general field of psychology that has three branches: 1) study of the theoretical underpinnings of behavior; 2) experimental analysis of principles that govern behavior; and 3) ABA: the application of behavior principles and use of data analysis to determine the effects of intervention (see sources).
Q In what ways might SLPs use principles of behavior analysis?
Professionals in many disciplines use these principles in their assessment and intervention practices, particularly with children with ASD. For example, SLPs are often the lead service providers in implementing PECS—a behavioral intervention—for emerging communicators. Within the framework of a functional behavior analysis, SLPs are ideally suited to identify functional communication targets to replace challenging behaviors and, with the team, to implement the resulting behavior plans (see on.asha.org/slps-positive for more information on SLPs’ role in positive behavioral supports such as FBA). SLPs are also part of interdisciplinary teams that use ABA-based interventions for children with ASD (for example, Pivotal Response Training or the Early Start Denver Model, as described by Sally J. Rogers and Geraldine Dawson in their 1999 book “Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism”).
Sources
Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1 (1) , 91–97. [Article]
Baer, D. M., Wolf, M. M., & Risley, T. R. (1968). Some current dimensions of applied behavior analysis. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1 (1) , 91–97. [Article] ×
Bopp, K. D., Brown, K. E. & Mirenda, P. (2004). Speech-language pathologists’ roles in the delivery of positive behavior support for individuals with developmental disabilities. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12, 5–19.
Bopp, K. D., Brown, K. E. & Mirenda, P. (2004). Speech-language pathologists’ roles in the delivery of positive behavior support for individuals with developmental disabilities. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12, 5–19.×
Fisher, W. W., Groff, R. A., & Roane, H. S. (2011). Applied behavior analysis: History, philosophy, principles, and basic methods. In Fisher W. W., Piazza C. C., & Roane H. S. (Eds.), Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis. New York: The Guilford Press.
Fisher, W. W., Groff, R. A., & Roane, H. S. (2011). Applied behavior analysis: History, philosophy, principles, and basic methods. In Fisher W. W., Piazza C. C., & Roane H. S. (Eds.), Handbook of Applied Behavior Analysis. New York: The Guilford Press.×
Frost, L., & Bondy, A. (2002). The Picture Exchange Communication System Training Manual, 2nd Edition. Newark, DE: Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.
Frost, L., & Bondy, A. (2002). The Picture Exchange Communication System Training Manual, 2nd Edition. Newark, DE: Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.×
Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., Harrower, J. K., & Carter, C. M. (1999). Pivotal response intervention I: Overview of approach. The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24(3), 174–185. [Article]
Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., Harrower, J. K., & Carter, C. M. (1999). Pivotal response intervention I: Overview of approach. The Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24(3), 174–185. [Article] ×
Leslie, J. C., & O’Reilly, M. F. (1999). Behavior Analysis: Foundations and applications to psychology. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: OPA.
Leslie, J. C., & O’Reilly, M. F. (1999). Behavior Analysis: Foundations and applications to psychology. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: OPA.×
Maglione, M. A., Gans, D., Das, L., Timble, J., & Kasari, C. (2011). Nonmedical interventions for children with ASD: Recommended guidelines and further research needs. Pediatrics, 130(S169), 169–178.
Maglione, M. A., Gans, D., Das, L., Timble, J., & Kasari, C. (2011). Nonmedical interventions for children with ASD: Recommended guidelines and further research needs. Pediatrics, 130(S169), 169–178.×
Morris, E. K., Todd, J. T., Midgley, B. D., Schneider, S. M., & Johnson, L. M. (1990). The history of behavior analysis: Some historiography and a bibliography. Behavior Analyst, 13, 131–158. [PubMed]
Morris, E. K., Todd, J. T., Midgley, B. D., Schneider, S. M., & Johnson, L. M. (1990). The history of behavior analysis: Some historiography and a bibliography. Behavior Analyst, 13, 131–158. [PubMed]×
National Standards Project. (2009). The National Autism Center’s National Standards Report. Randolph, MA: National Autism Center.
National Standards Project. (2009). The National Autism Center’s National Standards Report. Randolph, MA: National Autism Center.×
National Standards Project. (2011). Evidence-based practices and autism in schools. Randolph, MA: National Autism Center.
National Standards Project. (2011). Evidence-based practices and autism in schools. Randolph, MA: National Autism Center.×
Rogers, S. J., & Dawson, G. (2009). Early Start Denver Model for young children with autism: Promoting language, learning, and engagement. New York: The Guilford Press.
Rogers, S. J., & Dawson, G. (2009). Early Start Denver Model for young children with autism: Promoting language, learning, and engagement. New York: The Guilford Press.×
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
April 2014
Volume 19, Issue 4