Behavior analysts are focused on improving the lives of the individuals they serve. But the field
of ABA is often criticized for restrictive practices and/or a lack of assent based practices.
Conceptually this presentation links assent to rapport, choice, self-advocacy, and self-
determination. An operational definition of how this is conceptualized as joy for young learners
will be provided followed by the introduction of a 27 point dichotomous scale, which can be
utilized to by practitioners to measure assent, participation, choice, and autonomy. This tool is
the Joy Index and has been designed to help practitioners become more in touch with their client
experiences and how their own soft skills can be improved to enhance the joy of learners.
1. Participants will describe 5 indicators of joyful engagement and interactions in ABA
sessions demonstrated by learners.
2. Participants will describe at least 3 indicators of practitioner behavior that may promote
more joyful engagement in early childhood ABA sessions.
3. Participants will be able to describe the role of assent, participation, and choice in
developing a more positive client experience in early childhood ABA sessions.
Jennifer Posey, MA, BCBA, is a doctoral student in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott
College, where she is interested in the acquisition and advancement of language skills with early
learners, and producing joy-filled meaningful outcomes for children with autism. She studies
under the advisement of Mark Dixon, Ph.D. She received her master’s degree in Special
Education and subsequently pursued certification in Applied Behavior Analysis. Jennifer has
worked with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities across the lifespan
since 1999. She has a special interest in establishing foundational repertoires in early childhood
to include language and play skills such that more complex language and social repertoires
emerge. This is considered her primary area of expertise and she seeks to promote the
acquisition of these complex skills embedded in ABA sessions which promote joy. Jennifer
currently oversees clinical services at Holdsambeck Behavioral Health located in California.
Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at Endicott College.
Utilizing the Joy Index Video