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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Symposium #50
CE Offered: BACB
Technology and Training: Advancements in Training Through Telehealth and Virtual Reality
Saturday, May 25, 2019
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Ballroom Level, Regency Ballroom C
Area: AUT/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Casey J. Clay (University of Missouri)
Discussant: david M. richman (Texas Tech University)
CE Instructor: Casey J. Clay, Ph.D.

Effective training procedures for caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are essential for effective treatment. Additionally, improving efficiency and ease of access to this training through technological advancements will lead to quicker access to effective treatment. This symposium includes applied research on training technologies involving telehealth and virtual reality to increase access to effective assessment and intervention for children with ASD. The first two studies involve the use of telehealth in behavior skills training (BST) with real-time instruction and feedback. The first study focuses on training preference assessment methodology for staff working with children with ASD. The second study focuses on training intervention to decrease disruptive sleep behavior skills in parents of children with ASD. The second two studies involve the use of virtual reality in training skill acquisition (i.e., discrete trial training) and behavior reduction (i.e., functional communication training) procedures to pre-service and in-service teachers working with children with ASD. Discussion of results from both telehealth and virtual reality training studies will follow.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Target audience includes practitioners, researchers, and graduate students working with children with autism spectrum disorders interested in understanding advancements in technology related to training.

Learning Objectives: 1. Attendees will gain an understanding of Behavioral Skills Training. 2. Attendees will be able to describe advancements in technology related to training. 3. Attendees will be able to identify and describe effective components of training caregivers of individuals with ASD.

Training Parents via Telehealth to Decrease Sleep Disruptive Behaviors in Children With Autism

TAYLOR CUSTER (University of Houston Clear Lake), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Christine Stiehl (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Kelsey Leadingham (University of Houston, Clear Lake)

Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) engage in sleep disruptive behavior (SDB). Previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of treatments for SDB, including positive bedtime routines, bedtime passes, faded bedtime, and extinction (Freeman, 2006; Vriend, Corkum, Moon, & Smith, 2011). When training parents to manage SDB, it may be important for the therapist to coach parents and provide feedback on their use of the procedures immediately prior to, during, and following the child’s bedtime. Having a therapist in the home at night may be intrusive for the family and impracticable for the therapist. Telehealth technologies would allow therapists to provide immediate coaching and feedback to parents and to collect procedural integrity data without having to be physically present in the home. In this study, therapists remotely delivered components of behavior skills training to teach parents to implement individualized, function-based treatments for three children with autism who engaged in SDB. All of the children engaged in less SDB and slept longer after the parents implemented the treatment with high integrity. Parents indicated that they were satisfied with the telehealth treatment services. These findings replicate and extend the literature on the efficacy of telehealth technologies to train parents.


An Evaluation of Real-Time Feedback Delivered via Telehealth: Training Staff to Conduct Preference Assessments

JANELLE AUSENHUS (Drake University), William J. Higgins (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Effective, efficient, and accessible staff training procedures are needed to meet the service delivery demand for treating individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous research using behavioral skills training (BST) to remotely train staff to conduct preference assessments has been found to be effective, but required up to 6-hours of trainer time per trainee (Higgins, Luczynski, Carroll, Fisher, & Mudford (2017). The purpose of the present study looked to evaluate the effectiveness of delivering a single component of BST, real-time feedback, via telehealth to train newly hired early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) staff to conduct multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO) preference assessments. A nonconcurrent multiple-baseline- across-participants design showed that remote real-time feedback was associated with short training time and minimal sessions to achieve mastery. Generalization and maintenance probes indicated these skills were transferable to other preference assessment stimuli and learners diagnosed with ASD. Social validity ratings indicated that this was a socially acceptable training procedure.

Teaching Discrete Trial Training in a Virtual Reality Environment
BERGLIND SVEINBJORNSDOTTIR (Reykjavik University), Snorri Johannson (Reykjavik University), Julia Oddsdottir (Reykjavik University), Tinna Sigurdardottir (Reykjavik University), Gunnar Valdimarsson (Reykjavik University), Hannes Vilhjálmsson (Reykjavik University)
Abstract: Staff training is an essential component when implementing an effective behavior change procedure to children with autism and developmental disabilites. Unfortunately due to the lack of resources and time constraints many institutions or schools may not be able to sufficiently train staff. Virtual Reality is a viable alternative to train various skills. In a VR environment one can both actively practice skills as well as receive feedback while engaging in the activity. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a VR environment in training staff to implement steps in Discrete Trial Training (DTT). Participants were 4 teachers who worked at a school for children with disabilities. Performance was compared and evaluated after baseline, lecture, and VR training in a multiple baseline design across participants. All participants mastered the steps of DTT after VR training. This study is the first in examining the effectiveness of VR environment in training DTT skills. We discuss implications as well as future research in the area.

Virtual Reality Behavioral Skills Training for Behavioral Intervention With Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders

CASEY J. CLAY (University of Missouri), Brittany Schmitz (Thompson Center for Autism), SungWoo Kahng (Rutgers University), Bimal Balakrishnan (University of Missouri), James Hopfenblatt (University of Missouri)

Effective training procedures include Behavioral Skills Training (BST) involving written and verbal instructions, modeling of the skill, rehearsal of the skill, and feedback on the performance. This training typically involves hours of in vivo experience in which trainees and students with ASD are exposed to risk (e.g., behavioral issues such as aggression, errors in teaching performance). Including BST in a virtual reality (VR) context involving virtual individuals with ASD characteristics and behaviors, may be an effective training method that reduces risk. The purpose of this study was to examine if training students to do functional communication training (FCT) in a VR environment is effective. We trained 13 college students to implement FCT for attention and escape functions using a virtual reality environment. Preliminary results show that VR BST was effective at increasing correct steps performed of FCT to mastery criterion levels with all participants. Future researchers should examine generalization and maintenance of these procedures.




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