Examining the effectiveness of behaviour analytic interventions delivered via telehealth in training professionals working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Emma Craig

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder categorised by impairments in social communication and restrictions in behaviours and thought patterns. Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the applied branch of the science of behaviour analysis and is considered an evidence-based practice (EBP) for providing interventions for individuals diagnosed with ASD who are in need of support. In order to be suitably qualified to design and implement programs utilising the principles of ABA, an individual should be qualified as a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). When comparing the number of individuals with ASD who require support with the number of individuals qualified to BCBA level outside of the United States (US), the numbers of are scarce. This often results in individuals with ASD receiving interventions that are not considered an EBP. Secondly, those who deliver such interventions often have little training in the principles of behaviour analysis. Due to the high demand of individuals seeking a professional with a BCBA credential, BCBAs or those working towards the credential often experience a high rate of burn-out due to high service demands and the challenges that lack of effective supervision might pose. There is a huge need to investigate alternative delivery models that can facilitate BCBAs delivering services to those individuals with limited access to a qualified professional. One potential delivery platform is telehealth. Telehealth is the use of video conferencing software to connect individuals to a clinician within a wide range of health-related services. This thesis investigated the use of telehealth to provide behaviour analytic interventions effectively and efficiently and was done in three ways. Firstly, a systematic literature review was conducted to examine the current literature employing telehealth as a platform to deliver behaviour analytical interventions to individuals with ASD. Secondly, gaps highlighted within the systematic review were addressed in the main study. The main study utilised telehealth to train professionals in the principles of ABA and used live coaching telehealth sessions to assist in the acquisition of functional living skills in children with ASD. Finally, a follow-up study extending the current knowledge of conducting functional analysis (FA) and functional communication training (FCT) via telehealth was conducted. Each individual study within the thesis has contributed to the existing knowledge on the use of telehealth to provide behaviour analytic interventions to individuals with ASD. Recommendations for clinicians seeking to employ a telehealth platform and future research directions are discussed.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorKaterina Dounavi (Supervisor), Catherine Storey (Supervisor) & Nichola Booth (Supervisor)


  • Telehealth
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • applied behaviour analysis,
  • training

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