Speaker Series & Workshop

The Department of Applied Disability Studies & Faculty of Social Sciences are proud to offer this full-day workshop focused on compassionate and trauma-informed ABA:

Prioritizing Safety, Assent, Choice, and Skill Development in the Assessment, Intervention,
and Prevention of Dangerous Behavior

April 26, 2024 | 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Adithyan Rajaraman, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA-TN

TRIAD – The Autism Institute at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

There are many compelling reasons why behavior analysts are embracing more compassionate approaches to care. Such a cultural shift away from antiquated, coercive practices shows promise in improving several aspects of the present and future of applied behavior analysis. Delineating safe, humane, dignifying methods of assessing and treating dangerous behavior seems a timely next step. This interactive workshop will have multiple phases. First, I will briefly describe commitments of trauma-informed care (TIC) as a guiding compass for more compassionate approaches to assessment and intervention. Second, I will describe a set of procedures—grounded in ABA and TIC—to address behavioral crisis. Third, I will describe procedures and expected outcomes of contemporary practical functional assessments (PFA) and skill-based treatments (SBT), emphasizing commitments of the process that prioritize safety and skill development. Fourth, I will discuss how the PFA and SBT can be embedded in an Enhanced Choice Model to further prioritize client assent, autonomy, and choice. Throughout, I will highlight features of the process that are aligned with commitments of trauma-informed care. Finally, although I will share case examples, I will invite you to share your diverse and unique experiences in addressing dangerous behavior and discuss the feasibility of and steps to incorporating components (or all) of the process into your everyday practice. In addition to actionable strategies, I hope you leave this workshop with an appreciation that dangerous behavior is not inevitable and that it is possible to meaningfully address dangerous behavior without ever evoking it and while prioritizing safety, assent, and compassion throughout.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Outline the core commitments of trauma-informed care
  2. Describe Universal Protocol procedures aimed at mitigating behavioral crisis
  3. Describe practical functional assessment and skill-based treatment procedures
  4. Describe the distinguishing features of an “enhanced choice model” of skill-based treatment and associated expected outcomes
  5. Describe how components of the enhanced choice model could be applied to one’s own everyday behavior-analytic practice

in – person


3530 Schmon Pkwy, Thorold, ON L2V 4Y6

Registration fee:
includes parking, materials, light breakfast, lunch and refreshment breaks and 7 ethics CEUs (BCBA/BCaBA).

EARLY-BIRD PRICE – Ends March 14th!
Community Members
$250 per person plus fees

ADS Alumni & Current Practicum Supervisors
$225 per person plus fees

Community Members
$275 per person plus fees

ADS Alumni & Current Practicum Supervisors
$250 per person plus fees

Adithyan Rajaraman, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA-TN

Adithyan (Dithu) Rajaraman has been blessed to teach, interact with, and learn from children and adolescents with and without disabilities for 15 years. Dithu completed his Doctoral training in Behavior Analysis at Western New England University, under the advisement of Dr. Greg Hanley. In the fall of 2022, Dithu joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, where he serves as Director of Behavior Analysis Research within TRIAD: the Autism Institute at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. In his current position, Dithu works alongside neurodivergent professionals and advocates, behavior analysts, students, and public-school educators on a broad research agenda aimed at refining and scaling trauma-informed and neurodiversity-affirming approaches to functional assessment and intervention for dangerous behavior. This research aim is intimately connected to the goal of being able to provide safe, dignifying, yet highly effective behavior-analytic services to underrepresented individuals in underserved communities.




The BACB® does not warrant, endorse, sponsor, or approve or partner with any event, organization, or instructor.

Speaker Series & Workshops Archive

April 21, 2023

Thomas Higbee, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA

Utah State University

Building Independence & Spontaneous Language Through Photographic Activity Schedules and Script Fading Interventions

Many students on the autism spectrum and who have other developmental disabilities have difficulty sequencing their own behavior during free-choice situations. Rather, they rely on adults to prompt them to engage in particular activities. Many do not interact appropriately with play materials or may select one activity and engage in it for an extended period of time. Photographic activity schedules have been shown to be an effective tool to teach children to sequence their own behavior and transition smoothly between multiple activities. Children learn to follow the visual cues in the activity schedule to make transitions instead of relying on adult-provided prompts. Activity schedules also provide a context for teaching basic and complex choicemaking behavior. As children develop verbal behavior, social scripts can also be added and then later faded to promote social interaction. Activity schedules have been used successfully in a variety of settings with both children and adults with various disabilities. They are easy to use and can be adapted to most environments. As children learn to follow activity schedules, the schedules themselves can be modified to more closely resemble those used by their typically developing peers (e.g., planners, daily calendars, “to do” lists, etc.). In the present workshop, participants will learn how to use activity schedules and social scripting with clients/students as well as learn about recent research in this area.

June 17, 2022

Laura Mullins, PhD, BCBA-D & Rosemary Condillac, PhD, C. Psych., BCBA-D

Brock University, Department of Applied Disability Studies


There is a growing movement of self-advocates expressing concern with practices in applied behaviour analysis (ABA). Some have experienced questionable practices firsthand and have shared valuable information to help shape our practices. Some have benefitted from this behaviour change and are strong supporters of ABA. Some vehemently oppose ABA based on outdated practices and false information. Others view ABA as inherently ableist perceiving the focus of ABA to be “improving” people. These voices are teaching us important lessons that can shape our behaviour and improve research, practice, and dissemination. Although professionals have a genuine desire to help and do not intend to cause harm, we can inadvertently engage in ableist assumptions and practices. This workshop will provide an overview of a critical disability perspective, the systemic discrimination that ableism perpetuates, and potentially ableist practices in ABA. Attendees will have opportunities to reflect on their own practices, discuss ways to intentionally prioritize self-determination of our service recipients at each juncture of service delivery, and create their own action plan.


Albert Malkin, MA, BCBA, Meaghen Shaver, MSc, BCBA, Pamela Shea, MADS, BCBA, Kendra Thomson, PhD, BCBA-D, and Hanna Vance, MA, BCBA

Ontario Behaviourists for Social Responsibility Special Interest Group


Let’s dive into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and discover how we can be part of the solution. SDGs are a tool of transformative change as are behaviour analysts. Combining these tools may help us to move closer to ending poverty, protecting the planet and improving the lives and prospects of people around the world. Within this workshop, we will focus on functional root causes of three of the 17 sustainable goals (#3- good health and wellbeing, # 5- gender equality, and #13- climate action). We will analyse how to rearrange and mitigate contingencies such as delay discounting, and weak and abstract reinforcers and generate potential individual and systems level solutions based on applied behaviour analysis. We will explore strategies to strengthen pro-social, pro-environmental behaviours by examining motivating operations, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, examining and mitigating barriers and discussing supportive practices in other sectors which may act to maintain pro-social, pro environmental behaviours. Come join us and help us explore how researched based strategies based on learning principles should be incorporated into successfully moving the sustainable development goals forward.

April 23, 2021

Claudia Drossel, Ph.D., Ph.D., L.P.
Eastern Michigan University, Center for the Advancement of Neurobehavioral Health, Michigan, USA

Aging and Behavioral Health

Most behavioral health service providers work with adults across the lifespan, yet only few providers receive specialty training in behavioral health service delivery to adults aged 60 and older. This two-part full day workshop first will introduce the topic of aging, call attention to ageist practices, and describe important general considerations when working with adults in later life. The second part of the workshop will focus on progressive cognitive decline from neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Lewy bodies, and the prevention or management of associated behavioral or emotional changes. The goal of the workshop is to give an overview of the scope of behavioral gerontology and relevant professional knowledge, skills, and competencies.

April 24, 2020

Dr. Maria Valdovinos, BCBA-D
Professor of Psychology, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Behavior Analytic Conceptualization of Psychotropic Medication Effects and Its Implications for How We Monitor Challenging Behavior

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (including ASD) are often prescribed psychotropic medication to treat behaviors such as aggression and self-injury. Evaluation of these medications is often based on caregiver report or changes in frequency of behavior. However, focusing on changes in frequency, intensity, duration, topography, or function of problem behavior should instead be used as indications of medication effectiveness and ineffectiveness.  By carefully tracking the various dimensions of behavior, members of the care team are in a better position to determine when/if it is time to modify medication regimens. This workshop explored how functional assessment methodology can be used to measure various dimensions of behavior including motivating operational functions of medications.

April 26, 2019

Dr. Nirbhay Singh, BCBA-D
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, Georgia, USA

Mindfulness-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Adults with ASD and/or IDD and their Caregivers: An Interactive Workshop

Research on mindfulness-based practices in the fields of ASD and/or IDD is of recent vintage, but it is growing rapidly. Mindfulness focuses on non-judgmental present moment awareness and its applications in daily life. There are three general strands of research and practice: (a) with parents of children, youth, and adults with ASD and/or IDD; (b) paid caregivers and teachers of individuals with ASD and/or IDD; and (c) with individuals with ASD and/or IDD.

The focus of mindfulness-based practices for parents and paid caregivers has been on self-management of perceived psychological stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue, and enhancement of skillful means in providing care to children, youth and adults with ASD and/or IDD to improve their quality of life. Mindfulness-based practices with individuals with ASD and/or IDD has concentrated mainly on teaching them to mindfully self-manage their emotional arousal in situations that may lead to challenging behaviors, such as anger, aggression, disruptive, and destructive behaviors.

This workshop will provide a general overview of the extant research in this field, interspersed with a sampling of different meditations used in mindfulness practices, methods for integrating informal mindfulness practices in daily life, a stepped care model for combining mindfulness-based practices with positive behavior support, and a philosophy of caregiving based on healing and wholeness.

April 27, 2018

Dr. Peter Gerhardt
Executive Director, EPIC School

Teaching Positive Behaviour and Building Community Inclusion for Adolescents and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum

The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the prevalence of autism and related disorders (ASD). As these individuals grow up and age out of the education system there is an increased demand for effective and individualized services for adolescents and young adults with ASD. Unfortunately, the need for such services continues to far exceed the available resources leaving a generation of individuals with autism and their families in a programmatic, financial, and personal limbo.

This presentation will provide an overview of effective transition programming – at any age – with the ultimate goal being a life of dignity, competence, and quality.  Particular attention will be paid to what constitutes evidence-based practice via Applied Behaviour Analysis in the areas of adaptive behaviour, social competence, community-based instruction and employment

Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., is the Executive Director of the EPIC School in Paramus, NJ. Dr. Gerhardt has more than 35 years’ experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings. He has authored and co-authored articles and book chapters on the needs of adolescents and adults with ASD and has presented nationally and internationally on this topic. Dr. Gerhardt is the Founding Chairman of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research and currently Co-Chairs the Council with Dr. Joanne Gerenser. He is on numerous professional advisory boards including the Cambridge Centre for Behavioural Studies. Dr. Gerhardt received his doctorate from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Graduate School of Education.

April 27, 2017

Dr. Wayne W. Fisher, BCBA-D,
University of Nebraska Medical Centre’s Munroe-Meyer Institute


Functional analysis (FA) is an individualized assessment designed to evaluate a person’s problem behaviour in relation to environmental events that may affect the future probability of that behaviour. Functional analysis is designed to identify (a) the environmental contexts in which problem behaviour is likely and unlikely to occur; (b) the consequences that reinforce problem in those contexts; and (c) specific interventions that are likely to effectively reduce the individual’s problem behaviour. In this workshop, Dr. Fisher will show how FA methods have (a) increased our understanding of how environmental antecedents and consequences affect problem behaviour in individuals with ASD; (b) facilitated the development of novel and effective treatments, and (c) produced simpler and more efficient interventions for problem behaviour. He will also show how descriptive data can be used to develop alternative functional analyses for idiosyncratic functions of problem behaviour displayed by individuals with ASD. Finally, participants will be asked to practice initiation of functional communication training (FCT) and also to establish discriminative control over the FCT response using a multiple schedule.

Dr. Wayne W. Fisher is the H.B. Munroe professor of behavioural research in the Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre. He is also the director of the Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, a board certified behaviour analyst at the doctoral level (BCBA-D), and a licensed psychologist. Dr. Fisher is also a past editor of the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis.

Dr. Cathleen Piazza, BCBA-D,
University of Nebraska Medical Centre’s Munroe-Meyer Institute


Children diagnosed with ASD often display behaviour problems, and feeding disorders are a common behaviour problem exhibited by children with ASD. The feeding problems of children with ASD can cause more family stress than the primary symptoms of ASD because the consequences of feeding problems are often more immediate and salient. Feeding problems are caused by a wide range of interrelated biological (e.g., vomiting related to gastroesophageal reflux, choking due to oral motor deficits) and environmental variables (e.g., caregiver behaviour). Often, the challenge in effectively treating feeding disorders arises from the difficulty in sorting out the contribution of the variables (i.e., medical, oral motor, behavioural) that may contribute to the problem. The purpose of the current presentations will be to discuss methods of evaluating how we can define and measure specific behaviours to quantify the variables related to the etiology of a feeding disorder. A second purpose will be to review how clinicians and caregivers can use this data-based approach to prescribe and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.

Dr. Cathleen Piazza is a Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha. She previously directed similar programs at the Marcus Institute in Atlanta and at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Piazza is a former Editor of the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis.

April 29, 2016

Dr. Keith Allen, BCBA-D,
Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation,
University of Nebraska Medical Centre


Parents usually are the most influential people in a child’s life. So when issues such as child noncompliance, aggression, and acting out occur at home and school, it is often important for parents to take on a primary role in the resolution of these problems. This workshop will provide practitioners with the knowledge they need to take an evidence-based approach to training parents to solve these problems. An evidence-based approach promotes effective practice, improves patient outcomes, and enhances public health. The workshop will include a review of the criteria for identifying the best research in behavioural parent training, a critique of the empirical support for well-established and for not-so-well established but popular programs, a review of the behavioural principles underlying these programs, and a discussion of how to translate that research to practice in ways that will promote adherence.

Attendees will be able to:

  1. describe and contrast the empirically supported parent training programs and the behavioural principles that underlie each,
  2. critically evaluate the alternative programs,
  3. understand behavioural strategies for improving parent adherence, and
  4. understand how to use clinical expertise to modify the programs to meet individual parent/child needs.

Dr. Keith Allen is a Professor at the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation and at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre. He has published over 100 scientific papers and chapters and has published a book on the science and practice of parent training, published by APA. He has been recognized as both a Distinguished Researcher and as an Outstanding Teacher of the Year at UNMC.

April 24, 2015

Dr. Jon Bailey, BCBA-D,
Florida State University

Supervision: Assumptions, Ethics, and Best Practices & EthicsLab™ 2014: Analyzing Complex Ethics Cases Using a Seven-Step Model

Behaviour analysis is attempting to develop its professional practices while growing rapidly and facing significant challenges from consumers, insurance companies, and related professions. Our Guidelines for Responsible Conduct describe ethical expectations for supervisors but they are not widely know or adhered to. The morning will describe the brief history of the concept of “supervision” in ABA, describe its origins in clinical psychology, and offer an updated operational definition for our field. We will then review the relevant ethics items and describe in some detail the Best Practices that are being promoted by BACB. Participants are urged to bring supervision-related issues to the workshop for discussion and analysis.

The afternoon will present a seven-step process for analyzing complex ethics cases. This begins with an analysis of the status of the case and moves systematically through issues of risks/benefits, a consideration of the “players” involved and then the development of an Ethics Contingency Plan. Final steps involve tips for successful intervention and finally evaluation. We will present some cases and demonstrate the analysis and then open the workshop to cases presented by the participants. Participants will analyze cases they bring to the workshop using the seven-step model and will present their analysis to the group for discussion.

Dr. Jon Bailey has been faculty in the Department of Psychology at FSU since 1970 and is now semi-retired as Professor Emeritus of Psychology. He is a Fellow of ABAI and APA. Dr. Bailey founded the Florida Association for Behaviour Analysis and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles. He is a past-Editor of JABA and is co-author of seven books.

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April 19, 2013

Peter Sturmey, Ph.D.
Queens College and The Graduate Centre,
City University of New York

How Supervisors & Service Managers Can Manage Their Own Behaviour to Improve Client Outcomes

Why do we not do the things we should and want to do? Sometimes we do not do these things because we do not know how to, but the majority of time we fail to do the things we want because we are unfocussed, disorganized, and distracted.

Behavioural approaches define self-management as the effects of one behaviour (the controlling behaviour) on another behaviour (the controlled behaviour). It analyzes behavioural excesses (doing too much of the wrong behaviour because it is easy and reinforcing) and behavioural deficits (doing too little of the right behaviour because it is hard and less reinforcing). Self-management has been shown to be effective in managing a wide range of behaviour including work, eating/drinking, stress management and mental health.

Analysis and intervention of self-control shifts analysis away from the non-existent, controlling self to the environmental analysis of controlling and controlled behaviour. We can learn to manage our own behaviour by having clear personal values; measurable goals; self-recording and goal setting; making doing the right thing easier by increasing reinforcement and management of distractions and disruptions; and making doing the wrong thing more difficult by reducing reinforcement and management of distractions and disruptions.

This workshop will examine the application of self-management to service supervisors, managers and consultants to become more effective and happier and to achieve client outcomes.