By Adriana Rodriguez, M.A., BCBA
Have you ever worked with a client and have a hard time with buy in from the parents? Are the parents not following the plan you developed? If so, have you thought of the family’s culture as a factor?
The increase in minority population arriving the U.S has made it difficult for health care providers, to provide culturally competent health care services (Welterin & LaRue, 2007). This is problematic, specifically for behavior analysts because our main goal is to implement behavior analytic interventions to solve problems of social significance (Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968). However, based on the definition of culture, we can presume that what is socially significant for an individual, might not be socially significant for another individual. This is an important distinction to make, specially when selecting goals for families who have a different cultural background. As behavior analysts, we might conduct an assessment and select a goal that might not be in line with the family’s culture. Thus, resulting problematic as the family might not follow the plan, or it might even make it difficult for the parents to buy-in the intervention. In recent years, more and more behavior analysts have become aware of this factor, thus increasing the research and awareness of including culture within applied behavior analysis (ABA). Despite of all our efforts, we still have a long way to go as a field in order to provide culturally competent services to the people we serve. However, the more educated we become on the topic, the better services we will be able to provide.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
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. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1968.1-91
Welterlin, A., & Larue, R. H. (2007). Serving the needs of immigrant families of children with autism. Disability & Society, 22(7), 747-760. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687590701659600
The field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) while it has been around for many years is still in many ways in the growth phases as a profession. Once such area is that of diversity and multicultural issues. It has only been within the past few years that meaningful conversations have really started to occur around the topic of multiculturalism and diversity issues in the field. I will give you a brief summary of the current status of the field in this area and opinions of where I think we still need to go.
CURRENT STATUS ON DIVERSITY
statistics are lacking
Unfortunately it is hard to know exactly the current status of minorities in the field of ABA because the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) does not report the demographics of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), or Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). The only data available are in regards to the number of certificants and the practice areas of those certificants. According to a study by Nosik & Grow (2015), the majority of behavior analysts are women (82.2%). This does not necessarily match the gender of individuals being served by behavior analysts. Data show that most behavior analysts tend to work in practice areas with individuals with autism and the majority of clients with autism are males with 1 in 37 boys being diagnosed with autism each year (Autism Speaks, 2018). Other than gender data, there is no publicly available demographic data pertaining to certified professionals in ABA through the BACB, Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), or the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) as it relates to race, ethnicity, religious/spiritual affiliation, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Therefore, there is no accessible information on the percentage of behavior analytic professionals identifying as minorities or belonging to other diverse groups. This is concerning because there is no understanding then if the population of behavior analytic professionals are matching the demographics of the populations being serviced with behavior analysis.