Dr. Neil Martin has been working as a behaviour analyst (as a clinician, academic, supervisor and researcher) since 1990. He was among the first handful of BCBAs in the United Kingdom and he was one of the ‘ABA Lecturer’s Co-operative that developed the first BACB-approved course sequence in Britain. Although now working independently, Neil still teaches on a number of university programmes, supervises students, consults to numerous organisations and families both in the UK and internationally and he is involved in European funded research with other European partners. More recently Neil was one of the international subject matter experts that reviewed the BACB task list and was also involved in the subject matter expert panel for the generation of the BACB autism task list. Neil is the Applied Science representative of the European Association for Behaviour Analysis and the International Representative of the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board.
Neil Martin: “It is very important to establish standards for our profession”
You are an ABA specialist, teacher, superviser and researcher from 1990 until now. What can tell us about your professional course?
When I left the university, I thought I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and the first place I worked I met a behaviour analyst and he became my mentor and in within 6 months I completely changed my mind and I wanted to become a behaviour analyst. At that time, in the UK there were no academic training programs in behaviour analysis and no certification and so that’s why I became a researcher initially and soon the certification became available in internationally. I did it as soon as I can and then I pursuit a career as a behaviour analyst from that point.
The presentation that you approached it was „Behavior analyst certification board: updates, progress and international opportunities”. Please tell us the main idea of this session that you have facilitated.
Behaviour analyst is a growing profession around the world. It is very important to establish standards for our profession as any profession like psychology, speech language therapy, law or medicin. So, behavior analyst certification board facilitates the knowledge skills and abilities the behaviour analyst should have around the world and then tested it on that and offers it a intensive intervention for that. And that is important because without paths they could be an all many people in the world the same behaviour analysis and they got in some cases can be very dangerous for the people that they work and also for the professionists at all.
What’s new in autism spectrum disorders?
There is a lot of work, it seems looking at the etiology of autism, particulary of the genetics components. And I think that what is interesting I think were long way of maybe decades of I really identifying exactly what the issues are, I think that were likely to be multiple variabiles.
When can one say about a child with autism that is recovered?
Well, recovery is difficult and a contagious word because recovering involved that there is a big problem in the first place. That’s aside, the original definition used by Lovaas and collegues, was that a child had „recovered” and he no long required any additional services, if he function within a normal range and the most important if he otherwise undistinguishable from other peers. So if he meet all these criteria, I didn’t think it matters to put a label on that. The child is now able to live independently, function normally, what is wishable.
What are the skills or the qualities that a good therapist need to have, in your opinion?
They need good techinical skills, they need to understand about the functions of the behaviour and they need to have common sense.
How important is such an event for those interested in the issue of autism spectrum disorders?
I think is very important especially in country like Romania because you have the same prevalance of autism as in any other country and you have a small number of specialists to work with these children. So, conferences like this promote the science and evidence based space of issues supporting what we do and I think that is very hopeful.
Autism Connect is the largest platform of information and inter-connection of parents of children with autism with specialists in field. What message do you want to send for those who read us?
I’d like then to understand and appreciate that we can do a lot, we can work with children with autism and we can help teach skills, we can help reduce problem behaviours and we can increase their independance to make the life of families much better but what their families need to do they is to discriminate between the interventions that work of those who don’t . If they stick with science and the research space they can go on.
Thank you very much, Neil!
It was my pleasure!
* Interview by Elena UNGUREANU, psychologist