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  • January 20, 2020 2:58 PM | Ron DeMuesy (Administrator)

    Each day, many of us need to explain behavior analysis to ensure our clients receive the most effective treatment and our science earns the respect it deserves. We do this through our work within different systems--healthcare, education, developmental disability, and others--each with its own set of state rules and regulations. The OHABA Public Policy Committee is interested in the experiences of behavior analysts whose work intersects directly with an Ohio law, rule, or regulation. In advocating for our clients and our science, we can collectively explore public policy and determine if there are barriers affecting behavior analysis in Ohio. 

    Rebecca Szanto works as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Columbus Ohio. Her work often intersects with state and federal law when working with children in residential placements, clients who are in custody of the state, and in school-based settings when her clients are being evaluated for special education. Rebecca commonly encounters barriers when advocating for her clients in the school setting. She is very familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but notes that even though, “the school will technically following it (for example, drafting a behavior intervention plan or completing a functional behavior assessment), they fall short on actual implementation. For example, a school team may say that they have met the law's requirements because they came together to draft a new FBA and BIP, but no training was provided so the student continues to face challenges.” This is a common frustration for Rebecca and she has had to learn about different programs in Ohio to help the families she works with advocate for themselves--especially those without money for an attorney. Rebecca frequently collaborates with “Disability Rights of Ohio (DRO) to have the family linked with their free program that provides support for families with special needs. DRO’s program provides support via phone and sometimes in person (Attending IEP meetings).” In addition, she sits down with families to review “A Guide to Parents Rights in Special Education.” This guide should be provided to each family at their child’s IEP meeting, but it is not a quick read. Reviewing the guide with families provides a good parent training opportunity to increase a family’s advocacy. 

    Working with different school districts and DRO has provided Rebecca with a different outlook on collaboration across professions. She thinks it is important for BCBAs to know that there are limits when advocating for families. “I may know about the laws, but I am not an attorney, so it has always been helpful for me to refer families to the appropriate legal representative when the bounds of my competency end,” she states. This is an important consideration when discussing the law with families. While the goal is to advocate for our clients, the BCBA license does not cover providing legal advice. It is worth noting that this applies to other professions-- just as there are state rules surrounding who can practice behavior analysis in Ohio, there are complementary rules for other professions. 

    Rebecca believes more BCBAs employed by schools could remove the barriers she faces. There are many professionals that are required to be a part of schools teams--such as teachers and speech language pathologists. While that is an ideal, there are barriers within Ohio that currently make that impossible. There are not enough BCBAs in Ohio to fill the need for medically necessary intervention, which would make it difficult to have more BCBAs working within schools. What BCBAs can do is train and disseminate our science to school based professionals.

    If you have had an experience with an Ohio law, rule, or regulation and would like to share your success and or struggles, let us know! Publicpolicy@ohaba.org 

  • November 27, 2019 10:36 AM | Ron DeMuesy (Administrator)

    The OHABA Public Policy Committee is interested in the experiences of behavior analysts whose work intersects directly with an Ohio law, rule, or regulation. In advocating for our clients and our science, we can collectively explore public policy and determine if there are barriers affecting behavior analysis in Ohio. 

    Nikki Powell is a licensed psychologist in three states and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst -Doctoral level. She serves the President of OHABA and her clinical interests include treatment of severe behavior disorders, behavior analytic integration in acute mental health settings, and overall diversification of practice for behavior analysts. 

    Nikki identified barriers to BCBAs expanding practice, “Training is the major barrier right now that inhibits BCBAs from expanding practice. As Dr. Carr frequently says, we don't need FEWER people in IDD treatment, we need MORE in other areas. Without field experience and high quality supervision and exposure, it is very difficult for BCBAs to gain the knowledge needed for confident expansion.” There are laws and policies that can impact the expansion of our field. Some states restrict the practice of BCBAs to working with certain disabilities or ages. Nikki also points out that there are a limited number of options for educational tracks, degree specific, to be eligible to sit for the BCBA exam. Those educational options often focus specifically on autism or children. Nikki states, “This can be discouraging for individuals who have started in another field, but fallen in love with ABA, in that they are now required to obtain another masters to be eligible for the exam.” 

    BCBAs can expand their scope of competence outside of the clinical realm. A good start can be right within their own company by focusing on quality improvement [QI]. Nikki explains, “Look at where you have the most frequent breakdowns. Is it billing submissions? Timely schedule changes? Using QI tools (references available in Powell, Valentino, Valleru, & Krisha, 2019) within your own organization to identify, monitor, and implement changes is the perfect place to start.” There are many opportunities within Ohio to engage in quality improvement work. A resource for initial exposure is the QI Tools School. This is a program that anyone can sign up for. Nikki recommended “Start learning QI online to solidify your knowledge base. From there, look for companies that have a QI department and see what those departments do and what they impact. Most Ohio hospitals have a QI team.”  Promoting positive behavior change through QI tools will not only expand a BCBAs scope of competence, but naturally disseminate behavior analytic science.

    There are many different directions a BCBA can take to expand the field of behavior analysis. Those directions can, however, overlap. While certain laws and policies regarding licensure may define a specific scope of practice, there needs to be a contingency of people pushing to expand the scope. Luckily in Ohio, COBA broadly defines behavior analytic work. Expanding one’s scope of competence can easily translate into expanding one’s scope of practice. One area for improvement Nikki identified is in relation to training, “If I had infinite control, I would make sure every ABA program had at least 2-3 ‘tracks’ in terms of field work, with highly skilled behavior analysts to serve as supervisors and mentors.” As BCBAs expand their competence, they can serve as supervisors and mentors in different fields.

    If you have had an experience with an Ohio law, rule, or regulation and would like to share your success and or struggles, let us know! Publicpolicy@ohaba.org 

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OHABA Mission

What is OHABA?
Founded in 2008, The Ohio Association for Behavior Analysis (OHABA) is an affiliated chapter of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). OHABA is an organization for people interested in behavior analysis and is primarily an interest group.
The purpose of this nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization is to promote the science and theory of Behavior Analysis through the support of research, education and practice.

  •  Supporting the certification process of Certified Ohio Behavior Analysts (herein referred to as “COBA”). Supporting the national certification process of Behavior Analysts and assistant Behavior Analysts (herein referred to as “BCBA” and “BCaBA”).
  • Advocating for Behavior Analytic services and the profession of Behavior Analysis. Enhancing quality assurance in behavior analytic services. Promoting Behavior Analysis and university programs that specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis.
  • Providing continuing education opportunities for behavior analysts. Providing resources and information related to behavior analysis.
  •  Organizing an annual conference which shall serve as a forum for presentation of scientific and technological achievements as well as the discussion of the affairs of the organization.
  • Maintaining a group site or website containing information about the organization and about Behavior Analysis in Ohio and elsewhere.
  • Alerting Members to regional and national issues affecting the practice of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  • Functioning as the Ohio contact for and representative of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. CLICK HERE FOR OHABA BY-LAWS


Address: PO Box 1072 Westerville, OH 43086

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