Conference Speakers

VirginiaABA Welcomes our 2023 Conference Speakers!

2023 Speaker Information

Dr. Linda LeBlanc BIO AND KEYNOTE

Linda A. LeBlanc, PhD, BCBA-D, Lic-Psy

Biography: Linda A. LeBlanc, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Licensed Psychologist is the President of LeBlanc Behavioral Consulting and the past Editor in Chief of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Her 25 year career has included academic positions at Claremont McKenna College, Western Michigan University and Auburn University as well leadership positions in human services organizations. She established LeBlanc Behavioral Consulting in 2017 and consults to technology companies, universities, and behavior analytic human service organizations. Her professional interests include behavioral treatments, supervision and mentoring, and ethics. She is a Fellow of ABAI and is the 2016 recipient of the APA Nathan H. Azrin Award for Distinguished Contribution in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Keynote: Providing Compassionate Care and Building Therapeutic Relationships (1.5 CEUs)

Successfully working with families of children with autism requires technical behavior analytic skills and critical interpersonal relationship-building skills. As practitioners strive to respond efficiently and compassionately to distressed families of children with autism, technical skills must be balanced with fluency in relationship-building skills that strengthen the commitment to treatment. The presentation reviews the importance of these skills, the results of a survey and an outline of important therapeutic relationship skills that should inform the repertoire of any practicing behavior analyst, strategies to cultivate and enhance those skills, and discussion of the potential effects of relationship variables on treatment outcomes (Taylor, LeBlanc & Nosik, 2018). Specific skills that should be targeted in supervision are reviewed along with strategies for teaching skills such as active listening, compassionate responding, and self-monitoring social responses.

Learning Objectives:

1. Attendees will be able to identify the role of perspective taking skills in building therapeutic relationships with families
2. Attendees will be able to distinguish between sympathy, empathy, and compassion.
3. Attendees will be able to identify two strategies for strengthening relationships with families

Dr. LeBlanc WORKSHOP

Workshop: Success As a Consulting Supervisor (3 Supervision CEUs)

Newly certified BCBAs need support and guidance to succeed in their initial efforts to supervise the fieldwork experience of aspiring behavior analysts. If a BCBA has never provided Fieldwork Supervision before, the task can be daunting regardless of how long you have been certified. The Consulting Supervisor is a BCBA who has been certified for at least 5 years who supports the new BCBA. This presentation provides guidance for those who are providing or are preparing to provide Consultation for new BCBA supervisors. The workshop provides detailed guidance and activities for the each of the twelve months of a one-year consultation relationship, describing the approach, tools and resources found in LeBlanc and Sellers (2022) The Consulting Supervisor Workbook. The workshop focuses on building a strong bi-directional relationship, reflection and planning activities, and how to use assessment and self-assessment to develop a 6-12 month individualized plan of coverage of topics for the consultation and for the new supervisor’s oversight of fieldwork.

Learning objectives:
Through this workshop, attendees will:
1. Attendees will be able to describe the importance of consultation with new BCBAs for: the Consulting Supervisor, the new BCBA, the supervisees and trainees of the new BCBA
2. Attendees will be able to describe the importance of assessment and self-assessment in evaluating scope of competence and planning for supervision activities
3. Attendees will be able to select topics for a competency based curriculum for the new supervisors
4. Attendees will complete a reflection activity to identify the values that guide their supervision and clinical work
5. Attendees will be able to identify the core components of an agenda to effectively plan for consultation and supervision meetings

Dr. Dithu Rajaraman BIO AND KEYNOTE

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

Biography: 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 2019, he joined the faculty at UMBC, where he taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students of Psychology with an emphasis in behavior analysis. 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 Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s (VKC) Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD). Dithu has published research in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Analysis in Practice, the International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, and Autism. In addition, Dithu has been privileged to conduct and disseminate collaborative research across multiple continents. Dithu’s research and practice interests include the assessment, treatment, and prevention of dangerous behavior, with an emphasis on investigating compassionate, trauma-informed approaches to behavioral assessment and intervention. 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.

Keynote: Advocating for Trauma-informed Care in Applied
Behavior Analytic Practice and Research (1.5 CEUs)

Trauma is pervasive and can have lasting impact on an individual’s physical and emotional health. Some Intellectually and  developmentally disabled individuals, who are at a differentially greater risk for experiencing traumatic events, may also exhibit intractable, dangerous behavior, which may or may not be related to previous trauma exposure. Despite a growing acknowledgement of the importance of understanding the impacts of trauma on therapeutic approaches and outcomes across human service disciplines, discussions of trauma have been relatively infrequent in applied behavior analytic (ABA) practice and research. ABA has a rich history of successfully addressing dangerous behavior; however, certain evidence-based procedures may warrant reconsideration in light of the potential impacts of trauma on individuals and their behavior. In this presentation, after deconstructing barriers to assuming and including trauma in behavior-analytic approaches, I will describe a conceptual framework for incorporating trauma-informed care (TIC) into ABA. I will provide some case examples of how the core commitments of TIC could be applied to assessments and treatments of dangerous behavior to prioritize safety, assent, choice, and skill development. Because behavior analysts may struggle to gain “buy-in” with caregivers and colleagues due to the counterintuitive nature of certain procedures, I will defend the inclusion of certain procedures (and omission of others) by invoking TIC as a guiding compass. What I hope you abstract from case examples is not a specific set of procedures, but an overall approach and an evidence-based strategy—guided by values of compassion, empathy, and dignity—that you would feel comfortable and confident in applying to your practice right away.

Following this presentation, attendees should be able to:
1. Define trauma and trauma-informed care
2. Describe the core commitments of trauma-informed care (TIC) as they related to applied behavior analysis (ABA)
3. Describe examples of how trauma-informed strategies could be incorporated into ABA-based services to contribute to positive treatment outcomes with respect to dangerous behavior
4. Articulate several reasons why an increased emphasis on TIC in ABA is both timely and warranted

Dr. Rajaraman WORKSHOP

Workshop: Prioritizing Safety, Assent, Choice, and Skill
Development in the Assessment and Treatment of
Dangerous Behavior via The Enhanced Choice Model (3 CEUs)

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 to proceed with compassion. This interactive workshop will have multiple phases. First, I will briefly survey the landscape of behavior analytic practices aimed at addressing dangerous behavior in service of providing a compelling rationale for more compassionate approaches to assessment and treatment. Second, 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. Third, I will discuss how the PFA and SBT can be embedded in an Enhanced Choice Model to further prioritize client assent, autonomy, and choice. Fourth, I will highlight features of the process that reflect compassionate care and are aligned with commitments of trauma-informed care. Finally, although I will share case examples throughout, I will invite you to share your diverse and unique experiences in assessing and treating 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 it is possible to meaningfully address dangerous behavior without ever evoking it and while prioritizing safety, assent, and compassion throughout.

Following participation in this workshop, attendees should be able to:
1. Specify the gap between the aspiration of “compassionate care” and lingering best-practice recommendations
2. Describe practical functional assessment and skill-based treatment procedures
3. Describe the distinguishing features of an “enhanced choice model” of skill-based
treatment and associated expected outcomes
4. Describe how components of the enhanced choice model could be applied to one’s own
everyday behavior-analytic practice

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