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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #299
CE Offered: BACB — 
A Comprehensive Evaluation of a Practical Functional Assessment Model
Sunday, May 27, 2018
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall B
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Julia Iannaccone (Queens College)
Discussant: Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Joshua Jessel, Ph.D.

Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, and Hanratty (2014) developed a functional assessment format intended to be practical and efficient. The process begins with an open-ended interview, the information of which is used to inform the unique contingencies evaluated in an analysis with a single synthesized test condition and a matched control. This symposium includes a comprehensive evaluation of the reliability, validity, generality, and efficiency of the functional assessment model. Study 1 of this symposium evaluates the reliability of the open-ended interview used to design the subsequent analysis by comparing the results of multiple interviewers. In Study 2, multiple contextually relevant variables are assessed to determine the generality of the treatment procedures in natural settings informed by the functional assessment in a consecutive case series analysis. Study 3 evaluated the efficiency of the functional assessment by reanalyzing session duration to determine the extent to which analysis duration can be reduced without detriments in interpretations of functional control. Comparative validity measures of the practical functional assessment and a traditional functional analysis format were obtained in Study 4 by conducting both formats with each of the adult participants.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): functional assessment, problem behavior, reliability, validity
Target Audience:

BCBAs, BCBA-Ds, BCaBAs, licensed psychologists, and other behavior analytic providers who are looking for information on how to conduct or how to teach someone to conduct a practical functional assessment and treatment model.


Is Functional Assessment Reliability Necessary to Produce Valid Treatment Outcomes?

ADITHYAN RAJARAMAN (Western New England University), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Holly Gover (Western New England University), Robin K. Landa (Western New England University), Kelsey Ruppel (Western New England University)

The interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA; Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty, 2014) is an efficient functional analysis that has led to the development of effective skill-based treatments for severe problem behavior (Ghaemmaghami, Hanley, & Jessel, 2016; Hanley et al., 2014; Santiago, Hanley, Jin, & Moore, 2015). The indirect assessment used in this functional assessment process takes the form of a semi-structured interview with caregivers that informs the design of a subsequent analysis. The reliability of the process of conducting an interview and designing an analysis from the interview has, however, not been assessed. This study aimed to (a) provide multiple measures of the reliability of the semi-structured interview and analysis design process and (b) assess the efficacy and generality of treatments derived from a functional assessment process on baselines established from an independent process. Results showed that reliability largely depended on the lens with which agreement was measured across two independent assessments; the assessment process was reliable on a general level but unreliable on a more specific level. The variability imposed by the unreliability of the assessment process did not negatively influence treatment utility, as the effects of the treatment designed in one context transferred to the other context.

Effectiveness of the IISCA and Skill-Based Treatment in a School Setting
JESSICA SLATON (Nashoba Learning Group), Jessica Lee (Nashoba Learning Group), Chelsey King (Nashoba Learning Group), Rachel Sawyer (Nashoba Learning Group), Ashley Loomer (Nashoba Learning Group), Katlyn Phillips (Nashoba Learning Group), Ceara Carroll (Nashoba Learning Group)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is recognized as the treatment of choice for problem behavior, and is more likely to be effective when a pre-treatment functional analysis (FA) is conducted first. However, practitioners report rarely conducting FAs, and there is a paucity of research on implementing FCT in natural settings (e.g., schools, homes) with relevant caregivers (e.g., teachers, parents) using contextually appropriate schedules of reinforcement and with socially validated outcomes maintained over time. Hanley et al. (2014) reported an FA and skill-based treatment (including FCT) that relied on synthesized reinforcers and was effective and socially validated. Jessel et al. (in press) obtained similar results when applying this FA and treatment model across a larger participant sample, but did not report data on long-term maintenance or generalization. The current project presents the first few data sets in an ongoing consecutive controlled case series of the IISCA and skill-based treatment in a school setting with children with autism. All sessions were conducted in the child’s typical school environments (e.g., classroom, library, gym) by multiple direct care staff, with problem behavior reduced an average of 97% from baseline. Secondary positive effects (e.g., reduction of restraint), social validity, and maintenance data will also be reported.

A Re-Analysis of Session Duration During Full- and Single-Test Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analyses

JOSHUA JESSEL (Queens College), Rachel Metras (Western New England University), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Catherine E Wiist (University of North Texas), Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)

Improving the analytic efficiency and control of functional analysis may reduce common barriers to its practical utility and increase the use of empirically-supported procedures for identifying the functions of problem behavior in clinical settings. We conducted this study to determine if the efficiency of the recently developed interview-informed, synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA) could be improved without detrimental effects on control. In Study 1 we reanalyzed IISCAs conducted for the problem behavior of 18 children. We reinterpreted rates of problem behavior during the first 5 min and 3 min of the 10-min sessions and evaluated any changes in the level of control (i.e., strong, moderate, weak). In addition, the first test-session of each full IISCA was reanalyzed at the varying session durations to determine the possibility of obtaining functional control over problem behavior in, what has been termed, the single-test IISCA. In Study 2 we conducted 8 consecutive IISCAs with 3-min sessions to validate the results of the reanalysis. We found that strong levels of control over problem behavior can be maintained when conducting IISCAs with sessions as brief as 3 min.


Use of the Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis With Adults in a Day Program

SARAH WEDDLE (May Institute ), Margaret Walsh (May Institute), Jaclyn Caporale (May Institute), Cynthia M. Anderson (May Institute)

Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis is increasingly recognized as a viable method for identifying operant function (Ghaemmaghami et al., 2015, 2016; Hanley et al., 2014; Santiago et al., 2016; Strohmeier et al, 2016). However, Fisher, Greer, Romani, Zangrillo, and Owen (2016) found that, for some individuals, combined contingencies can lead to false-positive results. In the current study, we extend this research to adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability in a day program; a population and setting relatively unexamined via functional analysis (Beavers, Iwata, & Lerman, 2013). Following initial interview and brief observations, we conducted both standard (Iwata, et al., 1982/1994) and interview-informed synthesized (Hanley et al., 2014) functional analyses in typical adult day program environments across participants. Using the results of the synthesized and the standard functional analyses, we evaluated hypotheses about environment-behavior relations using an intervention test analysis. In the intervention test we measured the occurrence of problem behavior when the putative establishing operations were present in the natural environment, and subsequently introduced intervention components until we achieved suppression of problem behavior. Participants' levels of problem behavior varied across the standard and synthesized approaches following treatment.




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