HARRISBURG – Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin), in partnership with Rep. Lynda Culver (R-Northumberland/Snyder), has introduced a bill that would create a licensing process for professionals to practice the science of applied behavior analysis, also known as ABA.
House Bill 19
would not only help to retain skilled professionals in Pennsylvania, but also give patients and families peace of mind knowing that providers have met stringent academic and training requirements.
“Behavior analysts provide care to children and adults, including those diagnosed with autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, or emotional and behavioral disorders,” Mehaffie said. “I hear all the time from analysts and families who want to see licensure developed in Pennsylvania because licensure will create and retain jobs, prevent fraud and protect consumers.”
“Nothing is more important to a parent than the well-being of his or her child,” Culver said. “This additional reassurance to those parents will help all parties feel secure and confident, and help the child get the most he or she can out of the experience.”
Gerren Wagner, of Harrisburg, is an advocate for licensing behavior analysts who help people like her son, Owen, both in and out of school. At age 2, Owen was experiencing difficulty with attention and language, and he was soon diagnosed with autism.
Through ABA, Owen, now 11, has developed language skills as well as other methods of expressing his wants and needs.
“I think the most important thing with ABA is to find out what motivates the child and form a deep connection them. ABA also develops an individualized plan that sets goals specific to them,” Wagner said.
The techniques involved with applied behavior analysis have evolved over 40 years and now very much emphasize positive reinforcement, Wagner said, saying her son can be motivated with a favorite toy, video clip or soccer game.
Thirty-one states offer licensing for board-certified behavior analysts.
House Bill 19 mirrors a similar bill introduced in the 2019-20 Legislative Session. The new legislation was referred to the House Professional Licensure Committee.
Representative Tom Mehaffie
106th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch