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 #481
CE Offered: BACB
Innovations in the Assessment of Challenging Behavior for Individuals With Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 27, 2019
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Lobby Level, Crystal Ballroom B
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica Akers (Baylor University)
CE Instructor: Jessica Akers, Ph.D.

Assessment is integral to developing effective challenging behavior interventions. This symposium will include three studies related to innovations in the assessment of challenging behavior for children with developmental disabilities. The first study consisted of a systematic literature review of the previous research on the treatment of severe challenging behavior for adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The second study included an evaluation of the use of demand assessments to individualize functional analysis and treatment of escape-maintained challenging behavior. The third study included the use of a competing items analysis to individualize the intervention to reduce automatically maintained stereotypy. Overall, the symposium will involve a detailed discussion of methods to improve the efficacy of the intervention through the assessment of challenging behavior. Implications for the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior for practitioners who work with individuals with developmental disabilities will be discussed. In addition, the symposium will include specific directions for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): assessment, challenging behavior, developmental disabilities
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: 1. Attendees will be able to describe the procedures of a demand assessment 2. Attendees will be able to describe the procedures of a competing stimulus assessment 3. Attendees will be able to match challenging behavior intervention procedures to the results of relevant assessments

Systematic Review of Behavioral Interventions for Adolescents With Developmental Disabilities and Severe Challenging Behavior (2001–2016)

CHRISTINE DREW (University of Oregon), Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon), Buket Erturk (University of Oregon)

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to engage in severe challenging behavior which include behaviors that are dangerous to the individual and others. These behaviors are often targeted for intervention because of their impact on educational, social, and health outcomes. However, research on assessment and intervention for adolescents with severe challenging behavior has not been systematically reviewed. Systematic searches of three online databases and ancestral searches of the resulting manuscripts were conducted, and 78 studies met inclusion criteria. The studies where then evaluated for: (a) participant demographic information; (b) behavioral intervention; (c) challenging behavior topography; (d) behavior assessment; (e) experimental standards ratings; and (f) percentage of zero data (PZD) for the final phase of the intervention. Participants were likely to have either an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability. The vast majority of studies included some form of functional assessment and most included packaged interventions. The most common functions of challenging behavior were escape and automatic. Common combinations of interventions were compiled. Future research recommendations including using other measures such as amount of medications and time spent in less restrictive settings and addressing puberty and hormonal motivating operations in this population.

The Use of Demand Assessments in the Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behavior
SUZANNAH AVERY (Baylor University), Stephanie Gerow (Baylor University), Kristen Williams (Baylor University)
Abstract: Selection of demands without a demand assessment could result in a failure to identify an escape function for escape-maintained challenging behavior. The purpose of this study was to (a) evaluate the effect of immediate help on the rate of challenging behavior during high-aversive, low-accuracy demands and (b) to evaluate the efficacy of an intervention based on the assessment results in reducing challenging behavior. One 3-year-old with autism spectrum disorder participated in this study. A demand assessment was used to identify high-aversive, low-accuracy demands. In a second assessment, high-aversive, low-accuracy demands with immediate help resulted in lower rates of challenging behavior as compared to high-aversive, low accuracy demands without immediate help. We evaluated the efficacy of the subsequent intervention using a reversal design. The results indicated that requesting help with differential reinforcement resulted in a reduction in challenging behavior. Data collection with a second participant is ongoing. Implications for practice and directions for future research will be discussed.
Evaluating the Effect of Competing Stimuli on Automatically Maintained Motor Stereotypy
GABRIELA JUANITA RIVERA (Baylor University), Stephanie Gerow (Baylor University), Jessica Akers (Baylor University), Marie Kirkpatrick (Baylor University)
Abstract: Automatically maintained stereotypy, or repetitive behavior, is common among children with autism spectrum disorder. This study described the treatment of automatically maintained stereotypy for a 2-year-old girl with autism. The child’s father implemented all intervention sessions. The initial intervention consisted of prompting for appropriate engagement, differential reinforcement for appropriate engagement, and extinction. The efficacy of the intervention was evaluated using an alternating treatment design. The treatment evaluation indicated the initial intervention was not effective in reducing automatically maintained motor stereotypy. The researchers then conducted a competing stimulus assessment. The initial intervention with a competing stimulus was effective in reducing motor stereotypy. Intervention effects persisted following the removal of the differential reinforcement and extinction components. The results indicated that the use of a competing stimulus with the initial intervention was effective in reducing automatically maintained stereotypy. The findings suggest the importance of identifying items that compete with automatically maintained stereotypy, to the extent possible, in order to effectively reduce stereotypy. Implications for practice and directions for future research will be discussed.



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