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 #456
CE Offered: BACB
Factors Affecting Quality of Life for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 27, 2019
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency East, Lobby Level, Plaza Ballroom AB
Area: AUT/CBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Thomas L. Zane (University of Kansas)
Discussant: David A. Celiberti (Association for Science in Autism Treatment)
CE Instructor: Jessica Zawacki, M.S.

Quality of Life (QoL) is defined as a term that integrates objective and subjective indicators of a broad range of life domains and individual values and has long been a focus of mainstream society. When it comes to people with disabilities, however, attention to a QoL has historically not been a priority. While educational and civil rights litigation has advanced quality of life for individuals with disabilities and the literature is replete with studies assessing QoL, including happiness, little attention has been given to parental perceptions and priorities for their children when it comes to QoL concerns. The purpose of this symposium is to further the extant research to include information from families regarding what factors they believe are important to obtaining a QoL for their child and whom they perceive is responsible to ensure that their child obtains a QoL, and to present a behavior analytic procedure to assess specific factors that might be highly correlated, if not causally related, to indices of happiness, and to challenge the current staff training model during pairing in order for staff to exceed beyond becoming conditioned reinforcers, but to become primary reinforcers to the individuals they serve.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): autism, happiness, quality
Target Audience:

Clinicians, teachers, human service providers, BCBAs, psychologist, social workers.

Learning Objectives: 1. Orally describe the importance of a QUALITY OF LIFE 2. orally list at least 5 dimensions that make up a quality of life 3. conduct a preference assessment across various staff members
Parent Perspectives on the Importance of Quality of Life and its Potential Impact on Programing Decisions Including Staff Training
Abstract: Agencies serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder typically focus on teaching academics, social skills, adaptive behavior, and workplace competencies with little attention devoted to what components of programming are necessary to result in an overall quality of life. An emerging area is the importance of happiness and achieving a quality of life (QoL) as the ultimate outcome of support services. This study examined parental perspectives on the importance and priority of individual indices of QoL. Data were gathered through an online survey. Parents reported happiness to be an important component to an overall positive QoL (PQoL). Further, parents placed responsibility for identifying and attaining PQoL on educational and service systems, but believed that educational and service providers are not currently performing services in a manner that addresses QoL concerns. Results from this study established what indices of happiness are important to parents and demonstrated that parental priorities are incongruent with much of the literature discussing and prioritizing indices of happiness necessary for an overall PQoL. The results of this study provide educational professionals and service providers with a deeper understanding of parent perceptions and priorities regarding QoL potentially impacting current service provision models.

Staff Preference: Another Dimension of Assessment and its Relation to On-Task and Compliance Behavior


This study seeks to investigate the effects of staff preference (highly preferred staff versus less preferred staff) on the affect, compliance, and on-task behavior of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during demand activities that require prompting for on task engagement and task completion. Individual participants who indicate (through a preference assessment) a clear preference for certain staff members when compared to others, will be included in the study. Each participant will engage in the same demand activity conditions while direct-care staff members will be randomly alternated (highly preferred and less-preferred). Data will be evaluated through an alternating treatments design. Post hoc analysis will be conducted in order to identify the specific characteristics of the highly preferred staff (e.g., physical contact, facial expression, praise). Implications for the study include the value of providing choice and assessing preference of staff members and the potential impact for changing traditional staff training models to emphasize training for staff to position themselves as conditioned reinforcers to the individuals they serve.




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