Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #54
CE Offered: BACB
Modifications and Refinements of Functional Analyses Targeting Challenging Behavior
Sunday, May 29, 2016
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Columbus Hall CD, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: PRA/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Joanna Lomas Mevers, Ph.D.
Abstract: Functional analysis (FA) technology developed by Iwata et al., 1982/1994 is considered the gold standard for identifying the function of problem behavior. Despite the success of this methodology it is important to continue to refine and develop this technology. This symposium will present recent research comparing single topography FAs to multiple topography FAs, correspondence between brief and extended FAs, and new methods to evaluate self-injurious behavior (SIB) maintained by both social and automatic functions. Findings will show that FAs that include multiple topographies are as effective when problem behavior is maintained by negative reinforcement and less effective when problem behavior is maintained by access to tangible items. Correspondence between brief FAs and extended FAs is lower than what has been previously reported in the literature. In addition SIB maintained by both social and automatic reinforcement can be successfully identified using sensory extension and typical FA contingencies. Taken together these results provide support for refinements and modifications of FA procedures to more effectively identify the function of problem behavior.
Keyword(s): Automatic Reinforcement, Functional Anlaysis, Problem Behavior

Further Analysis of the Correspondence Between the Results of Functional Analyses and Brief Functional Analyses

COLIN S. MUETHING (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Amanda Zangrillo (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Andrea R. Reavis (Marcus Autism Center), Natalie A. Parks (Positive Behavior Supports Corporation)

Past research comparing brief and lengthier functional analyses has generally shown high rates of correspondence. In 1995, Vollmer, Marcus, Ringdahl, and Roane, proposed an assessment model that progressed from brief functional analyses to lengthier functional analyses following undifferentiated results. This study sought to examine the proposed model by comparing the results of brief functional analyses and lengthier functional analyses conducted according to procedures from Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982/1994) with participants from a day treatment program for severe problem behavior. Results showed low correspondence between the brief and lengthy functional analyses across 22 comparisons indicating possible false positive or false negative results. Low correspondence may be due to the various differences between assessments or the particulars of the participants and behaviors included in the study. Past research has shown both assessments have demonstrated successful treatment development. Therefore, future research is necessary to evaluate correspondence between assessments in other settings and with other types of participants.

A Comparison of the Utility of Multiple and Single Topography Functional Analysis Procedures
JONATHAN DEAN SCHMIDT (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Natalie Rolider (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Kevin J. Schlichenmeyer (Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children), Heather Jennett (Little Leaves Behavioral Services), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: When a functional analysis (FA) is conducted on multiple topographies of behavior simultaneously, the function of certain behaviors may be confounded due to response class hierarchies or a lack of discrimination if the participant does not contact the programmed contingencies. For this study, we concurrently conducted multiple (consequences for all target behaviors) and single (consequences for a specific target behavior, one at a time, in a sequential fashion) topography FAs for 12 individuals with developmental disabilities and examined each method’s ability to identify behavioral function. Two observers simultaneously but independently scored behaviors during 50% of all FA sessions; IOA for target behaviors ranged from 71% to 100%. Both multiple and single topography FAs were equally effective for identifying escape maintained problem behaviors. However, single topography FAs were more likely to identify a function when results of a multiple topography FA were undifferentiated, and to identify a tangible function. Additionally, although only occurring in a small number of cases, multiple topography FAs were more likely to produce false positives regarding the functions of behaviors when these results were considered in aggregate. Attendees will gain guidance regarding factors to consider and when to utilize a multiple or single topography FA.
Using a Test for Multiply Maintained Self-Injury to Guide Treatment Decisions
MINDY CHRISTINE SCHEITHAUER (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Alex Shrewsbury (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: In interpreting results of a functional analysis, an automatic function may be determined either because problem behavior is elevated in the alone/ignore condition comparative to other conditions or because problem behavior is elevated and undifferentiated across multiple conditions. In the latter, it is difficult to determine if problem behavior is maintained by automatic reinforcement alone or is multiply maintained. The current projects replicates and expands upon past research that evaluated social reinforcement conditions in a functional analysis after controlling for automatic reinforcement through sensory extinction. Specifically, we evaluate multiple social reinforcement conditions within each participant while the participant wore protective equipment to eliminate automatic reinforcement. Results suggest that self-injury was maintained by automatic reinforcement alone for one participant and both automatic reinforcement and physical attention for another participant. Outcomes are discussed in the context of implications and importance for treatment.



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