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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #43

Pain: An Update From the Applied Front--Conditioning and Measuring Behavior Still Matter

Saturday, May 25, 2019
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Ballroom Level, Grand Ballroom AB
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Frank Symons, Ph.D.
Chair: Kelly M. Schieltz (University of Iowa)
FRANK SYMONS (University of Minnesota)
Dr. Frank Symons is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in Special Education and Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota where he also serves as the Associate Dean for Research and Policy in the College of Education & Human Development. His research agenda positions him in the crossroads of interdisciplinary inquiry in behavioral disorders and neurodevelopmental disabilities. His specific focus has been on the behavioral mechanisms and pathophysiology underlying chronic self-injurious behavior occurring among individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders including Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, autism, and intellectual disability. His work has also advanced by addressing issues specific to pain and intellectual and developmental disabilities. He holds current appointments in the Department of Educational Psychology and the Center for Neurobehavioral Development. Symons has been P.I. or a Co-Investigator on several NIH R series grants the majority involving bench and bedside/clinic components and their integration.

Pain is a classic or, perhaps, rather a modern scientific conundrum. It is, by definition, a subjective experience. One of the confusing or difficult problems comes about by reducing the experience to a singular objective entity that can be quantified. How and why this is done will be discussed in two ways. One in relation to contemporary accounts of basic pain research agendas and what seems like the (re)discovery of the brain and conditioning (respondent, operant) mechanisms. The other by placing the issue in the applied context of trying to reliably and validity measure pain experience in individuals with communicative difficulties associated with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Target Audience:

Behavioral scientists; practitioners providing services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, attendees will be able to: (1) define pain; (2) describe the specific problem of the definition of pain for individuals with communication disabilities; (3) describe common features of non-verbal pain rating scales.



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