Black Professionals in the ABA and Autism Community

By Ashley Cameron, Registered Behavior Technician

Originally, I was hoping to make a blog post about Black people who have influenced the history of ABA, but, unfortunately, this was very difficult to research. Similar to the field of psychology, Black research and professionals have not been at the forefront of the field of ABA and, even currently, ABA has a lack of Black BCBA’s and other professionals. However, that seems to be changing as more Black people are working as advocates, professionals, and paraprofessionals within the field. Here are some Black people within the field of ABA and autism communities who inspire me!

Adrienne Bradley, M. Ed., BCBA, LBA.

Adrienne Bradley is the president of BABA, Black Applied Behavior Analysts. She also works as an Associate Clinical Director, a Professor and co-host of a podcast called Shades of ABA,which discusses diversity and inclusion in ABA. Her podcast has become an easy, accessible and enjoyable way for me to learn about other Black and PoC members of this field and her accomplishments and the work she does has definitely made a positive impact on the field and she is an inspiration to anyone hoping to contribute to this field!

Maria Davis-Pierre, LMHC

Maria is a licensed therapist who became involved in the ASD community when her daughter received a diagnosis. She became the Founder and CEO of Autism in Black, an organization which aims to support Black families who have a child with ASD, as well as bring awareness and reduce stigma attached to ASD in the Black community. Her work to support families is a reminder of how important the work we do in ABA is and inspires me to find ways to reduce the stigma of ASD and the stigma of receiving mental health and behavioral health services in my everyday life.

Catina Burkett

A licensed social worker who wrote a meaningful opinion piece for called “Autistic While Black: How Autism Amplifies Stereotypes”. In the article she explains her experience in the workplace and getting a diagnosis and treatments and calls for researchers to include race and ethnicity in their data so that Black individuals can get the treatment they deserve. Her writing is a reminder to me that race shouldnt be ignored in ABA if we want our treatment to be equitable for everyone.

Nichole Robinson, Senior Behavior Technician

Nichole is a Senior Behavior Technician here at Kadiant! She is currently in the Portland area and began her career working in a daycare. Through her experience in daycare, Nichole saw firsthand how many kids of color can go undiagnosed and branded as “bad apples” and decided that she wanted to be a part of the solution. What she loves about ABA is being able to work one-on-one with her clients, being trained to handle behaviors, being able to be honest and transparent with parents, and having the support of her supervisors. Overall, she loves that we can and are qualified to help. Nichole wants to expand her passion for helping young black kids in her community build their communication skills and improve their lives by becoming a speech therapist or dual Speech Language Pathologist and BCBA. I have seen Nichole’s passions come through in the work she does here in the Ethics, Inclusion and Diversity committee and she inspires me to keep working to be an ABA professional that is inclusive and helpful to my community!