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Compassion in ABA: Examining the interpersonal abilities of ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) practitioners who work with autistic adolescents

Author: Chelsee Maloney, Behaviour Analyst

Submitted as part of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Applied Behaviour Analysis, in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University, Belfast

This study uses the principles of applied behaviour analysis to examine the interpersonal abilities of professionals interacting with teenagers who have autism in a school context. To gauge interpersonal abilities related to the 16PF personality assessment, participants filled out anonymous self-report surveys. To assess the participants’ interpersonal abilities, indirect observations were made on recordings of the observations using digital recording equipment. To gauge participant behaviour, partial interval recording and competency tests were used. Scores from the questionnaire and observation were converted into behavioural artistry scores, and comparisons were made (Callahan et al., 2019). According to the findings, participants had highly developed interpersonal and empathetic abilities connected to behavioural creativity. Analysis shows a strong correlation between participant demonstration of behaviours associated with ‘warmth’. Results differ from those that Callahan et al. reported for ABA practitioners (2019). Conclusion: In school settings, ABA practitioners exhibit high degrees of behaviour artistry and empathetic abilities.

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