Speakers’ Series

UK-SBA Speakers’ Series 6 with Dr Timothy Vollmer

Dates: 4-5 May 2017

Time: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm each day (Registration at 9:00 am)
BACB CEUs: 6 per day (Type 2; included in registration fee)
Venue: UCL Psychology Building, Lower Ground Lecture Theatre (04), 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0DS

Registration for this event is now closed.


Timothy R. Vollmer received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 1992. From 1992 until 1996 he was on the psychology faculty at Louisiana State University. From 1996 to 1998 he was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He returned to the University of Florida in 1998 and is now a Professor of Psychology. His primary area of research is applied behavior analysis, with emphases in autism, developmental disabilities, reinforcement schedules, and parenting. He is the director of the Behavior Analysis Research Clinic. He has published over 130 articles and book chapters related to behavior analysis. He was the recipient of the 1996 B.F. Skinner New Researcher award from the American Psychological Association (APA). He received another APA award in August, 2004, for significant contributions to applied behavior analysis. He was named an ABAI fellow in 2010 and has served two terms on the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior Board of Directors. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis from 2014-2016.


Day 1 (Thursday, 4 May)

Part 1: New Developments in the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Behavior Disorders

Dr Vollmer will first describe research by his team on the matching law and will relate that research to the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior. A difficulty arises in developing treatment when behavior cannot be placed on extinction for any of various reasons. However, understanding variables that influence choice allows us to develop effective interventions. New research, not yet published, on parent training and longitudinal evaluations of stereotypic and problem behavior will be presented and discussed.


  • Be able to describe at least two situations that make use of extinction either difficult or impossible when implementing differential reinforcement.
  • Be able to present at least two factors influencing choice, other than the relative rate of reinforcement for the choices.
  • Be able to describe what the matching law predicts will happen to child problem behavior versus child appropriate behavior following parent training on differential reinforcement.

Part 2: Behavioral Rigidity in Autism: Implications for Behavioral Assessment and Intervention

Although behavioral rigidity can at times be advantageous for humans, it can also cause significant negative educational and health outcomes. The presenter will cover translational research showing conditions under which children with autism spectrum disorders behave more rigidly than typically developing peers. Next, some examples of detrimental effects will be shown via presentation of research data. These detrimental effects include but are not limited to over-selective and unhealthy food preferences, aggression resulting from restrictions on maintaining environmental order, and obesity due in part to rigid interests in sedentary activities such as viewing videos, playing video games, and surfing the computer. Solutions are also presented in the context of published, proposed, or ongoing research.


  • Be able to describe at least one situation in which behavioral rigidity produces negative health outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
  • Be able to describe the role of escape extinction in treatment rigid and over-selective food preferences
  • Be able to describe what the presenter means by a “triple whammy” for individuals with ASD who receive atypical antipsychotic medications.


Day 2 (Friday, 5 May)

Part 1: The “Symptoms” of Autism are Modifiable: That Is Where We Fit In

When parents or other loved ones of children with autism spectrum disorders seek behavioral assistance in the treatment of their child, we should not view applied behavior analysis (ABA) as an “autism treatment.” For one thing, (ABA) applies to much more than autism. For another, we are not treating autism, we are treating behavior of concern expressed (usually) by the parents. Autism is a behaviorally defined disorders. Behavior analysts should seek a listing of behavior of concern (behavior in excess or behavior that is missing from the repertoire), establish goals in conjunction with the parents, and then treat the behaviors of concern. The age old question then arises: if we treat all of the concerns, what do we have? The presenter will describe an entire program of research devoted to alleviating concerns expressed by parents and other loved ones.


  • Be able to establish a list of at least three goals for a real or hypothetical client with ASD.
  • Be able to describe how one might teach a child with ASD to respond to his or her name when called.
  • Be able to describe the importance of a generalized imitative repertoire in teaching children with ASD.

Part 2: Ethical Considerations in the Assessment and Treatment of Sex Offenders with Intellectual Disabilities.

There may be some legal difference between the UK and the USA, but that will be interesting to discuss. In the USA, sex offenders with intellectual disabilities are most commonly adjudicated incompetent to stand trial (hence, “offenders” is a bit of a misnomer). Thus, they are afforded generally the same rights and freedoms as other individuals with intellectual disabilities. This context creates numerous ethical dilemmas for behavior analysts and related disciplines. The presenter will describe his 15-year history in this realm and describe some of the most common ethical dilemmas that he and his colleagues have faced, and he will present recommendations for resolving those dilemmas to the best of one’s professional capabilities. NB: This presentation will count toward BACB ethics CEU requirements.


  • Be able to describe at least one ethical dilemma faced by behavior analysts working with sex offenders who are intellectually disabled.
  • Be able to present at least one solution to that ethical dilemma.
  • Be able to describe to importance of peer review in the context of assessment and intervention for sex offenders with intellectual disabilities.