Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Family and Community Studies

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Mark Small

Committee Member

Dr. Susan Limber

Committee Member

Dr. Martha Thompson

Committee Member

Dr. Bonnie Holaday


As the prevalence rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continue to increase, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is now universally recognized as the most effective and empirically based treatment option for children. This recognition has led to greater accessibility to services for families, a broader range of funding sources, increased client diversity, and an unprecedented demand for qualified service providers. With this increased demand for qualified providers and the increased diversity of clients, a needs assessment for cultural competence training was conducted.

The Needs Assessment for Systematic Cultural Competence Training in Applied Behavior Analysis captured demographic information related to providers and clients, as well as key areas of focus including past experiences and training in relation to cultural competence, current workplace conditions and practices related to cultural competence, and needs in the field. Certified behavior analysts from the United States were asked to participate in the assessment, with the sample size resulting in 482 participants. It was determined that participants received little formal university training in cultural competence, cultural competence was not an emphasized element of their fieldwork experiences, and the majority of people learned about cultural competence from self-study or continuing education. The majority of participants did, however, conclude they are culturally competent and provide culturally responsive assessment, treatment program development, and parent training for children with ASD, despite having no formal training.

The assessment also found that most people work in settings that promote cultural competence awareness and feel comfortable discussing such topics while at work. Participants report a desire for training in cultural competence more so than other topics and prefer to receive that training from national professional associations through participation in live events. Recommendations are made for future research and practical development.

Available for download on Sunday, December 31, 2023