Photo Credit: ABAI International
By: Nahoma Presberg, MS BCBA and Gabrielle Galto, BCBA, NYS LBA
What is ABAI? ABAI stands for the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and they hold an annual convention that brings together behavior analysts and other professionals for an opportunity to disseminate knowledge, network professionally and socially, and further the field of behavior analysis.
This year, we had the opportunity to attend the 45th convention held in Chicago, Illinois with thousands of other professionals. As first time attendees we were overwhelmed by how grand the entire convention was, but with that in mind it was such an amazing opportunity to grow professionally and already excited to come back next year. Our experience of ABAI fell into a few different categories including the professional development side, networking, and product development with the ever growing technologies now used within the field.
Presentations are naturally a major component of ABAI. There are hundreds of lectures to attend including workshops, panels, symposiums and invited presenters. Workshops are an option prior to the beginning of the convention at an additional cost, which allows for more hands on learning and in depth discussions of particular topics. During the convention itself, presentations are offered from about 8am until 7pm. We personally attended a variety of different presentations in the areas of supervision, verbal behavior, ethics, diversity, functional analyses, and relational frame theory to name just a few. We were amazed and overwhelmed by the vast variety of presentations and noticed that there were lectures on so many topics that we’re sure everyone could find something to meet their needs and interests. As a note, CEs are also available for most presentations. Many attendees choose to purchase the CE package which allows you to accumulate as many CEs as you would like throughout the conference. While we didn’t have the chance to take full advantage, there are also poster sessions that allow researchers to present their work in a more casual environment. We’re excited to bring back our new knowledge in the area of verbal behavior and begin to implement some of the methodologies related to mand training and increasing vocalizations through hand cues.
Social and Professional Networking
Throughout the convention, there are various opportunities to network with different professionals as well as companies and educational institutions. There was a job fair, exhibitors, and formal social events to promote communication and networking between professionals. This provides opportunities to learn about various job openings for behavior analysts and educational programs within the field for both masters and doctoral levels.
We chose to attend one of the two major social events, which was a social gathering at a bar with ping pong tables that was such an amazing time for all that attended. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other professionals and hear about all the important work they are doing. Of course, you have to pick and choose where to devote your time as there were just so many things to do here!
Product Development and Technology
In addition, there are a number of vendors who come to share their products related to new technology within the field. There are opportunities to communicate with software companies who are working to expand our capacity in the field through data collection methods, virtual reality training, and online education. Companies provide demos of their product so that you can see what they are working on and figure out if their technology is the right fit for you or your company. We had fun exploring virtual reality and imagining what this technology will allow us to do in the near future.
Overall, ABAI was a fun and valuable experience with all that they had to offer. It was important and refreshing to take a few days away from our normal routines to re-energize our passion for behavior analysis and expand our skill set and grow in this ever expanding field. It was amazing to see and remember all the ways that ABA is growing and expanding in new technologies, methodologies and bringing our science to populations outside of the focus of autism.
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