Veneziano & Shea, 2022


The field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) has produced powerful changes and improvements to the lives of many. However, the field is not immune from criticism. One criticism from those outside the field is that the goal of ABA therapy is to make Autistic people appear “indistinguishable” from their peers. This paper examines “indistinguishability” and its implications by defining “indistinguishable” in behavior analytic terms, exploring how the term was used in two notable studies in the field (Lovaas, 1987, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55[1], 3–9; Rekers & Lovaas, 1974, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 7[2], 173–190), and providing a review of the social validity and ethical implications of having “indistinguishability” as an explicit or implied goal. This is partially accomplished by incorporating concerns from the Autistic self-advocate community. We argue that the Autistic self-advocate community’s concerns surrounding “indistinguishability” as a goal have a degree of legitimacy and need to be given due consideration. Suggestions for addressing these concerns in ABA degree programs and research are discussed, emphasizing the importance of considering stakeholder values, taking criticisms seriously, and making changes when necessary. Reading this article and completing the questions and self-analysis, participants will receive 2 Learning CEUs.

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Course curriculum

  • 1


    • Veneziano & Shea, 2022

  • 2

    Reflection and Analysis

    • Assignment

  • 3


    • Evaluation


Founder/Executive Director/BCBA-D

Christen Russell

As the founder and Executive Director of Affecting Behavior Change, LLC., I created ABC from my passion and commitment to education, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging, ethical behavior and decision-making, behavior analysis, and continual personal and professional growth. I take a lifelong learner approach to systematically fill the gaps in areas of continuing education, professional development, and research. As an ACE coordinator, I have created over 40 continuing education events. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, my clinical experience focuses on quality assurance, compliance, clinical support, business development and growth. I also work closely with leadership and management divisions on compliance, training and delivery of sound, ethical and effective behavioral supports to achieve client goals. I have established and assisted with the startup, and/or growth and development of four agencies providing ABA services. I have consulted with health care agencies, providing services to 100s of staff, including BCBAs, BCaBAs, RBTs, executive, administrative, clinical and operations staff. I have provided consultation to teachers, parents, business owners and staff. I have my PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis from Endicott College. I have my Master of Science in Psychology with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis. With a focus on supervision, staffing, recruitment, training, strategic planning, and working in the field for over 20 years, I have a broad spectrum of clinical expertise.

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