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College of Extended Learning


Keynote Sessions

Navigating Collaboration Challenges in Autism Intervention: Strategies to help us adhere to ethical principles, analyze differences of opinion, manage interpersonal challenges and successfully work together in interdisciplinary team contexts

Speaker: Dr. Mary Jane Weiss, BCBA-D


Collaboration is a critical component of interdisciplinary team treatment and is mandated by the complex needs of individuals with ASD. For all team members, the collaboration presents several common challenges. Working with individuals from other disciplines involves addressing differences in worldview, in the definition of evidence, and in the concept of evidence-based practice. The successful navigation of these challenges leads to more effective team processes and improved outcomes for clients. Flexibility is needed when dealing with other disciplines. Understanding differences of perspective and treatment requires a functional assessment of those positions, which will suggest ways that team members can maximize collaborative efforts and maximize client success. Sample dilemmas and helpful resources will be reviewed.

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will describe the need for collaboration across disciplines and strategies for assessing and intervening in collaboration challenges in effective ways
  • Participants will describe ways that team members can collaborate effectively while adhering to their ethical guidelines
  • Participants will describe how evidence and data can be used to address differences in opinions among team members
  • Participants will become familiar with several resources that can assist in identifying collaborative solutions


Photo of Dr. WeissMary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LABA specializes in the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and its application to human behaviour, especially with respect to autism. She serves as the executive director of programs in ABA and autism, and as director of the Ph.D. program in ABA. She is especially passionate about the philosophical and scientific foundations of ABA, ethical decision making in the context of professional practice, and collaboration across disciplines.

She is interested in identifying best practices in ABA, both in instructional practices for skill acquisition and in the reduction of challenging behaviors; in how social skills can be taught to individuals with autism; and finally, in effective staff training and in developing more effective parent-professional partnerships. She has a long-term interest in ethical practice, and is working on methods to develop ethical decision-making skills. She is also very interested in effectively teaching soft skills; in particular, she is researching how to foster collaboration skills and cultural humility among behavior analysts.

Science and Pseudoscience in Autism: Selling Hype or Giving Hope

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Zane, Ph.D., BCAB-D, Licensed Psychologist


Autism treatment has long been known as a ‘fad magnet’ that attracts well-vetted empirically-based effective treatments, but unfortunately, also attracts ill-advised, ineffective, and unethical treatments. Parents and caregivers seek effective ways of teaching skills, maximizing independence, and improving the quality of life for individuals with autism. They assume those professionals who have degrees, certifications, and visibility in the field know what they are doing, and believe the hype and marketing that service providers disseminate about the methods they use. The proponents of all autism treatments assert that their treatments will work. They want parents and caregivers to be hopeful that their particular treatments will meet the goals and desires of those seeking treatment. However, the fact is that some treatment providers can only provide hype without also delivering the effective outcomes of their therapy. The hype is freely given. Real hope, gleaned from evidenced-based strategies that produce objectively-measured positive outcomes, is harder to come by.


Photo of Dr. ZaneDr. Thomas Zane is a Professor of Practice and the Director of Online Programs in Behavior Analysis in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Dr. Zane earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in psychology at Western Michigan University and his doctorate in Applied Behavior Analysis at West Virginia University. He has served as a Post-Doctorate Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts and as a Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Zane serves on the Executive Board of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, an international organization that represents the field of behavior analysis. He is also a member of the Scientific Council of the Organization of Autism Research, a group that funds innovative research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Zane has been past President of the Ethics Special Interest Group of the International Association for Behavior Analysis. His research interests include online learning, evidence-based practice in autism, and the philosophy of science and radical behaviorism. He is particularly interested in why some behavior analysts drift from the code and the importance of adhering to choosing scientifically-supported treatments in clinical and educational work.

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