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 #261
CE Offered: BACB
Broadening the Lens of ABA: Understanding and Treating Psychopathic, Callous and Unemotional, and Anxious Behaviors
Sunday, May 27, 2018
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Coronado Ballroom AB
Area: CBM/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)
CE Instructor: Jeannie A. Golden, Ph.D.

Behavior analysts shy away from addressing behaviors related to psychopathology, callousness and unemotionality, and anxiety. These diagnoses and their symptoms involve private events and are therefore difficult to operationally define, observe and measure. However, Friman and others have suggested that behavior analysts should not ignore these important areas because they will then be studied only by non-behaviorists. Unfortunately, non-behaviorists view aberrant behaviors in individuals with psychiatric disorders as symptoms of underlying constructs and use the diagnosis as a reason for these behaviors, proposing more global treatments such as therapies or medications. On the other hand, behaviorists view those behaviors as serving an environmental function that can be replaced with a more acceptable behavior serving the same function. The behavioral perspective would also include an analysis/understanding of establishing operations in the form of private events, physical sensations, bio-behavioral states, psychological feelings, covert tacts/mands and learning history with particular discriminative stimuli for reinforcement or punishment. The presenters in this symposium will present their analyses of these areas from a behavioral perspective and provide treatment strategies or research methodologies that are based on these analyses.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Anti-Social Behavior, Anxiety-Related Behavior, Autism, Callous-Unemotional Behavior
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, teachers, direct care staff, administrators

Learning Objectives: At the completion of this symposium, participants will be able to: 1. Describe the role of social reinforcement and signs of damage in the behaviors of individuals diagnosed with ASD and CU traits 2. Describe the role of motivating operations and discriminative stimuli in the behaviors of individuals with CU traits 3. Describe how wearable biomarker technology can be used to address stress, anxiety and problem behavior among individuals diagnosed with ASD

The Development of Antisocial Behavior: Signs of Damage, Callous and Unemotional Traits, and Autism

ANDRE V. MAHARAJ (Florida International University), Logan McDowell (The Victory Center for Autism and Related Disabilities)

The development of anti-social behavior may be due to a decreased sensitivity to certain types of social reinforcement, as well as social punishment. One class of stimuli that is especially relevant to the development of prosocial interaction is signs of damage. Skinner proposed that aggression is primarily reinforced by inflicting harm, and that the reinforcement utility was learned, as well as innate. Signs of damage, such as screaming, crying, or the sight of bruises or blood, are said to function as such reinforcers. However, these signs typically occur at the end of a confrontation, and may instead be functioning as discriminative stimuli for preventing further attack. Interestingly, response similarities have been demonstrated between children with callous and unemotional (CU) traits, and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We consider work that has investigated the reactions to social reinforcement and signs of damage among children diagnosed with ASD and CU traits, and discuss the relevance with regard to the development of antisocial behavior, diagnostic classification, labeling, and treatment.

Callous-Unemotional Traits: Learned Behavior Related to Motivating Operations
JEANNIE A. GOLDEN (East Carolina University), Kathryn Gitto (East Carolina University)
Abstract: In the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual- V there is a subset of individuals with conduct problems and anti-social behaviors described as having callous-unemotional traits. These individuals appear to have a limited repertoire of emotional behaviors (e.g., lacking fear, guilt, and empathy). These so-called traits could instead be learned behaviors that were functional in environments where children experienced abuse, neglect, and unpredictable contingencies. Traditional psychologists view these traits as symptoms of underlying constructs, while behaviorists view these so-called traits as behaviors serving an environmental function. Components that are often missing in the analysis of these behaviors include: 1) motivating operations in the form of private events (thoughts and feelings); and 2) learning history with specific Sds for reinforcement or punishment. These traits could act as motivating operations mediating the salience and effectiveness of various reinforcers and punishers. The presenter will discuss how functional assessments and analysis of learning history and motivational operations can facilitate the development of efficacious treatments for these individuals.

Using Wearable Biomarker Technology to Address Stress, Anxiety, and Problem Behavior Among Individuals With Autism

(Applied Research)
JESSE (WOODY) W. JOHNSON (Northern Illinois University), Toni R. Van Laarhoven (Northern Illinois University), Anna Hammond (GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School ), Michael Carter (GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School)

Up to 80% of children and youth with ASDs experience clinically significant anxiety (Leyfer, Folstein, Bacalmen, et al., 2006). Individuals with ASDs and comorbid anxiety are at increased risk for displaying externalizing behavior problems, social avoidance, and difficulties establishing/maintaining peer relationships across environments (Davis, Hess, Moree et al., 2011). New research is beginning to investigate the effectiveness or wearable biosensor devices to measure physiological indicators of stress and anxiety in naturalistic settings (Lakudzode & Rajbhoj, 2016). The purpose of this presentation is to describe how physiological information obtained from wearable devices can be used to alert clients or practitioners to the need for interventions and relaxation techniques aimed at recognizing the body's anxiety response. We will also provide case study examples to illustrate how these devices can be used to teach the individuals to self-regulate or use coping and/or relaxation strategies, which in turn could improve the ability of individuals to navigate life demands with greater effectiveness.




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