Promoting and Defending Quality ABA for the Treatment of ASD

A Panel Discussion

Original Air Date: April 21, 2021

CEU offered: 1.5 Learning CEU

Short Title: Promoting and Defending Quality ABA

Webinar Duration: 1.5 hours

CE Instructors:

  • Amanda Kelly, Ph.D. BCBA-D
  • Justin Leaf, Ph.D., BCBA-D


The implementation of behavioral intervention based upon the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been applied across various populations including addiction (e.g., Silverman et al., 2008), intellectual disabilities (e.g., Passage et al., 2012), and juvenile delinquency (e.g., Serna et al., 1986). However, behavioral intervention is most commonly associated with the treatment of autistics/individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Both research and clinical practice have shown that when quality ABA is implemented to autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD, positive and meaningful outcomes can occur. This is not to say that the application of methodologies based upon ABA has been without its faults. However, despite its faults, there have been countless successes. The faults and the successes should be discussed within the profession. The purpose of this panel is to highlight the many successes of ABA as it relates to interventions designed for autistics/individuals diagnosed with ASD while still acknowledging its faults and the need for improvement.



Chief Clinical Officer, Breakthrough Behavior Amanda Kelly, BCBA-D

While pursuing a career in elementary education, Dr. Amanda N. Kelly, also known as Behaviorbabe, was first introduced to the science of behavior analysis, after meeting a young child with autism. After graduating with her bachelor's in Elementary Education from Shepherd University, Dr. Kelly moved from West Virginia to Massachusetts, where she completed coursework and supervision requirements to obtain her BCaBA. Dr. Kelly continued studying the science of behavior analysis, earning her master's and doctorate in Behavior Analysis from Simmons University, and obtaining her BCBA and BCBA-D, respectively. Dr. Kelly has experience working as a paraprofessional, special education teacher, school counselor, behavior analyst, and university professor. Over the past two decades, Dr. Kelly has worked in-home settings, public and private schools, residential placements, and community settings for children, adolescents, and young adults with social-emotional, cognitive, and behavioral needs. After successfully defending her doctoral dissertation, Dr. Kelly relocated from New England to the island of Oʻahu, where she championed autism insurance and advocated for licensure for behavior analysts. In 2020, Dr. Kelly assumed the role of Chief Clinical Officer for Breakthrough Behavior, which is based near Orlando, Florida. Throughout her career, Dr. Kelly has focused on showcasing effective applications of behavior analysis, most notably extending to areas of public policy, ethics, and sustainable behavior change. Dr. Kelly is considered a thought-leader in behavior analysis and is often highly sought after as a speaker at national, as well as international events.

Co-Director of Research and Director of Training , Autism Partnership Foundation Justin Leaf, PhD

Justin Leaf, Ph.D., is the Co-Director of Research and Director of Training for Autism Partnership Foundation and Professor at Endicott College. Justin received his doctorate degree in Behavioral Psychology from the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Currently, Justin leads the research team at Autism Partnership Foundation, which conducts research nationally and internationally. His research interests include examining methods to improve social behaviors for children and adolescents with autism and developing friendships, comparing different teaching methodologies, evaluating parameters of reinforcement, and evaluating long term outcomes for individuals diagnosed with autism. Justin has over 100 publications in either peer reviewed journals, books, or book chapters and has presented at both national and international professional conferences and invited events. Justin also recently edited a book entitled Handbook of Social Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Assessment, Curricula, and Intervention. Justin is an Associate Editor for Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Justin also serves or has served on the editorial board for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.