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How to Better Develop Pro-health Behaviors Through Collaboration with Families and Professionals

(Expanded 3 hours version of “Dealing with Inadequate physical activity and nutrition: Working with children with special needs and their families”)


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General Information

Title: How to Better Develop Pro-health Behaviors Through Collaboration with Families and Professionals

(An expanded 3 hours version of "Dealing with Inadequate physical activity and nutrition: Working with children with special needs and their families" presented in 2018)

Presented By: Gina Nicolini, MA, BCBA

Date:  Wednesday May 27, 2020 10am – 1pm 

Time: 10:00 am -1:00 pm eastern (New York)

Recording Availability: 5/28/20-6/7/20 at 11:59 pm eastern (New York)


An abundance of health literature indicates that children and adults need to target diet and exercise behaviors. Age at death remains lower for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Although we have extensive knowledge of behavioral technologies and access to a growing body of research that could lead to socially significant and meaningful outcomes, practicing behavior analysts often shy away from targeting pro-health behaviors. Many analysts cite ethical considerations and caregiver endorsement as a barrier when addressing behaviors related to increased physical activity and varied food consumption.

In the clinical setting, potentially harmful backup reinforcers include long bouts of sedentary activity and excessive use of edibles. As practitioners, we need to confront how our interventions may contribute to poor health outcomes. This presentation addresses how behavior analysts can include health-related goals in treatment by drawing from current recommendations, selecting and pairing relevant health behaviors, translating current research and gaining support from parents and stakeholders. Common assessment tools (e.g., VB-MAPP, EFL) will be used to briefly illustrate how behavior analysts can write goals within their own boundaries of competence.

Learning Objectives

Participants will describe:
1. Identify ethical guidelines related to scope of practice, goal development, and rationale for health-related goal selection.
2. Identify common sources of health-related recommendations, and potential opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.
3. Identify the difference between a desired outcome and a target behavior and identify potential goal domain based off desired outcome identified.
4. Identify a long-term treatment goal and tie it back to a known assessment and programming tool.
5. Identify the rationale and social significance when submitting goals to funding sources.
6. Identify behavioral interventions that have been applied to health targets in the literature.


Presenter Bio and Disclosure Statement

Gina Nicolini is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has developed a passion for the treatment of health-related behavior in children, including programming appropriate levels of physical activity. Since 2000, she has worked in disability services and has instructed in a wide range of settings. Gina experienced in residential facilities, group homes, schools, clinics, and nursing homes that well-developed programs often fail to teach and develop skills that meet this basic human need. Gina’s clinical expertise lies with assessing and developing goals through the use of VB-MAPP, Essential for Living, and adapting to the individual’s environment. She programs Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior into the natural environment via verbal modules. Gina also has an interest in staff fitness and has incorporated health initiatives in her clinical work. She believes that the overall health and fitness off direct care staff is important for the safety and well-being of clients. Gina is a co-instructor for ABA Technologies and is pursuing an additional certification in sport and exercise nutrition. Gina Nicolini is employed by BehaviorFit. She receives commissions for new clients that engage BehaviorFit services after viewing this webinar. She does not receive royalties for the sale of any materials or resources mentioned in this webinar. 


10:00 am: Introduction

10:05 am: Webinar begins

11:30 am: 10 minute break 

11:40 am: First Q&A session

11:50 am: Webinar resumes

12:45 pm: Second Q&A session

1:00 pm: Evaluation, post-test and code submission forms


Credit Hour Information

BCBAs earn 3 CEUs (Learning) for viewing  LIVE or recording.

  • Must pass post-test with 80% or above and submit all attendance codes
  • CEs not available for other professions

For ABAC's continuing education approvals statements please view our Continuing Education page