When is World Behavior Analysis Day? This day will take place on March 20 of each calendar year. It will also be acknowledged the week preceding this date, starting on March 14.
What is World Behavior Analysis Day? Behavior analysis is a natural science of behavior that was first developed by B.F. Skinner and colleagues starting in the 1930s. Working at Indiana University and then Harvard, Skinner focused on how behaviors (the actions of living organisms) affect and are affected by environmental events that precede and follow them closely in time. He developed research methods that are uniquely suited for studying the behavior of individuals and how it interacts with various aspects of the environment. Behavior analytic researchers use the methods of the basic science — the experimental analysis of behavior—to address questions about how behavior works and how it changes. Through experiments that have been repeated hundreds of times, behavior analysts have demonstrated several principles or natural laws of behavior that hold across many individuals, species, settings, and behaviors. One example is reinforcement, which occurs when instances of a behavior are followed closely in time by an environmental event (consequence) and the behavior is strengthened over time.
Starting in the 1940s and 1950s, some of Skinner’s colleagues and students showed that the principles and procedures discovered by the early researchers could be used to build useful skills in people with developmental and psychiatric disorders. A great deal of foundational work in the applied branch of the discipline — applied behavior analysis (ABA) — was done in the late 1950s – early 1960s. For instance, pioneers at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Washington blended the experimental analysis of behavior with research on human development to develop interventions for building communication, self-care, academic, and social skills and reducing harmful behaviors in children with autism and other developmental disabilities as well as typically developing children. They and other early applied behavior analysts implemented interventions in schools, homes, and other everyday settings, emphasizing the use of positive reinforcement to help individuals improve behaviors that were important to them and to those with whom they interacted. The first journal devoted to research on applications of behavior analysis and the first university graduate program in ABA were founded in 1968.
From those beginnings the discipline has grown substantially so that behavior analysis is now a robust field with theoretical, experimental, and applied branches and distinct research methods, scientific journals, textbooks, scholarly and professional organizations, and university training programs. Thousands of studies published in scientific journals have demonstrated the efficacy of many ABA procedures – singly and in various combinations — for building useful skills and reducing behaviors that impede healthy, successful functioning in many clinical and non-clinical populations. The practice of ABA is a distinct profession with well-established, widely recognized professional and paraprofessional practitioner standards and credentials.
Some areas in which ABA interventions have proved effective include general and special education (all levels); autism spectrum disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, attention deficit disorder, movement disorders, brain injuries and diseases, behavior disorders, substance abuse disorders, dementia, and feeding disorders; home and workplace safety; vehicular and pedestrian safety; organizational behavior management; animal welfare and training; conservation; parenting; child welfare; sports; and health and fitness. ABA services are delivered in a variety of settings, including private and public clinics, private homes, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, group homes, universities, and workplaces.
Although behavior analysis is not new and has grown substantially in recent years, it is young in comparison to many other disciplines and thus less well-known. Designating a World Behavior Analysis Day will provide a platform for educating many people about this dynamic, burgeoning field and for highlighting its many contributions to improving the human condition.
The date March 20 has been selected for World Behavior Analysis Day because it is the birthdate of B.F. Skinner, the founder of contemporary behavior analysis.
The growing stature and size of the applied branch of the discipline are illustrated by the following:
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB; www.bacb.com) is an independent nonprofit organization that was founded in 1998 to meet the needs of consumers, governments, employers, and funders for credentials verifying that practitioners of ABA have met uniform, objective training and examination standards. As of October 2, 2020, the BACB had certified 42,272 professional practitioners with advanced degrees and training, 4,579 assistant practitioners with bachelor’s degrees, and 82,978 paraprofessionals.
A labor market study conducted by Burning Glass in 2019 documented that the demand for BACB-certified practitioners of ABA increased exponentially between 2010 and 2018.
Since just 2009, 31 states have adopted laws to license behavior analysts.
Certain private health insurance plans are mandated by laws or regulatory bulletins in all 50 U.S. states to cover ABA services for people with autism spectrum disorders. Medicaid programs in most states also cover ABA services to at least some extent.
In 2019 the American Medical Association (AMA) CPT® Editorial Panel approved 8 CPT® (health insurance billing) codes for ABA services as Category I. That signifies that the Panel deems those services clinically effective according to the AMA’s evidence standards and widely accepted in the medical community.
The worldwide increase of behavior analysis can be found in the exponential growth of membership in professional organizations dedicated to behavior analysis, such as the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA). This growth in the practice of the science of behavior analysis could also be found in the increasing number of people similarly distributed worldwide with credentials issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Behavior analysts are known to currently work in at least 35 nations across the globe.
Why is this day being created? Designating a World Behavior Analysis Day will provide a platform for educating many people about this dynamic, burgeoning field and for highlighting its many contributions to improving the human condition.
How should this day be celebrated or observed? You could help celebrate and observe World Behavior Analysis Day by completing the following steps:
1. Educating yourself on the practice of behavior analysis and how the treatment is beneficial to you or your loved one.
2. Finding a behavior analyst in your area by searching the Board Certified Behavior Analyst website and navigating to the certificant registry by visiting the website: https://www.bacb.com/verify-certification/
3. Attending a behavior analytic conference or workshop by completing an online search for events being offered online or in-person.
4. Spreading awareness about World Behavior Analysis Day by posting on various social media platforms, using the hashtag: #WorldBehaviorAnalysisDay.
Who created this day? This day was created in December 2020 by the worldwide Associations for Behavior Analysis.