Dr. Jonathan Tarbox is the Co-Founder and Program Director of the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at the University of Southern California, as well as Director of Research at FirstSteps for Kids. Dr. Tarbox is the past Editor-in-Chief of the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice, a Board Member of the ABA Task Force to Eradicate Social Injustice, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Women in Behavior Analysis (WIBA) conference.

He has published five books on applied behavior analysis and autism treatment, is the Series Editor of the Elsevier book series Critical Specialties in Treating Autism and Other Behavioral Challenges, and an author of over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in scientific texts.

His research focuses on behavioral interventions for teaching complex skills to individuals with autism, Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT), and applications of applied behavior analysis to issues of diversity and social justice.

Abstract of the ABA International Conference 2020:

Empowering Autistic Individuals to Develop Flexibility Around Obsessive Behavior, Fixations, and Rituals

This presentation will be in English.

Becoming “stuck” with rigidity is a normal and often challenging part of the human experience. Many autistic people report having difficulty navigating situations that involve challenges with sensory input, rules, routines, and rituals that may diverge from what the general culture perceives as “normal” or “appropriate.” Despite how common these reports are, surprisingly little research has been done on procedures for supporting autistic people in managing these challenges. Fortunately, well-researched procedures from applied behavior analysis (ABA) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can be used as effective supports. For example, graduated exposure, positive reinforcement, and defusion training can be combined to empower autistic people to navigate, and even find joy, in otherwise challenging situations. This presentation will review the small existing literature, present data from ongoing studies, and provide practical suggestions for practitioners on how to support autistic people without resorting to coercion or forced compliance.