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Evidence-Based Practice of Applied Behavior Analysis

Susan Wilczynski
The evidence-based practice of applied behavior analysis involves the integration of the best available evidence gleaned from the literature with professional judgment and client values/context. The phrase “evidence-based practice” does not imply that practitioners should randomly select among treatments identified in evidence-based practice guidelines or systematic reviews. This presentation reviews each of the components of evidence-based practice but highlights the importance of client and contextual variables that should influence treatment selection. Behavior analytic literature focusing on client variables (e.g., medical conditions that may serve as motivating operations) and contextual variables (e.g., environmental and resource constraint) are used to demonstrate why these variables are essential to effective clinical decision-making. Parental role in the determination of client and contextual variables is given a prominent position in the discussion because the least effective intervention is the one that is never used. Parents must consider variables other than the level of empirical evidence support a given treatment. The recent results of the National Autism Center’s National Standards Project 2.0 are briefly incorporated into the discussion in conjunction with a larger focus on providing appropriate behavior analytic services to clients on the spectrum.

Presented at the 2015 Michigan Autism Conference

Susan Wilczynski is the Plassman Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. Before joining the faculty at Ball State University (BSU), she served as the executive director of the National Autism Center where she chaired the National Standards Project, the most comprehensive systematic review of autism literature completed to date. She currently serves as the Director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at BSU. She developed the first center-based treatment program in the state of Nebraska while on faculty at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and was the first female faculty member with a research lab in the psychology department at the University of Southern Mississippi. Wilczynski has edited multiple books and manuals on evidence-based practice and autism and has published scholarly works in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Modification, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Psychology in the Schools, and Education and Treatment of Children. She is a licensed psychologist and a board-certified behavior analyst. Wilczynski won the 2011 Wing Institute Award for her contributions to evidence-based practice and autism and is currently the president of the special interest group on evidence-based practice of the Association of Behavior Analysis International.

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