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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #331
CE Offered: BACB
From the Lab to the Clinic: Assessing and Treating Challenging Behavior in Applied Settings
Sunday, May 24, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Room 103
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Stephanie M. Peterson (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Mandy J. Rispoli (Purdue University)
CE Instructor: Cody Morris, Ph.D.

Procedures used to assess and treat challenging behavior in research do not always translate to practice because they do not address the idiosyncratic variables typically found in applied settings. This symposium reviews variables related to assessment and treatment of challenging behavior as well as byproducts that result from these challenges. The first study describes an evaluation of data collection integrity of caregivers who were tasked with collecting data for assessment purposes and provides recommendations for behavior analysts relying on others to collect data. The second study describes an evaluation of a method for assessing elopement during transitions. The third study describes an evaluation of alternative treatments, specifically programs based on concurrent operants, for escape-maintained challenging behavior in applied settings. Finally, the last presentation focuses on issues related to the use of restrictive procedures and describes a method for evaluating and reducing their use in applied settings. Taken together, the information provided in these presentations will give practitioners of behavior analysis tools to increase the ecological validity of their practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Challenging Behavior, Ecological Validity, Functional Assessment
Target Audience:

Practitioners of behavior analysis who work in applied settings.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to identify idiosyncratic variables that are likely to effect assessment and treatment in applied settings, describe methods for increasing the ecological validity of assessment and treatment, and describe recent research-based extensions of function-based assessment and treatment.
A Component Analysis of an Electronic Data Collection Package
(Applied Research)
CODY MORRIS (Salve Regina University )
Abstract: Data collection is essential to the practice of applied behavior analysis, but human error in collection can lead to inaccuracies. Because inaccuracies in measurement may adversely affect treatment decisions, procedures to increase data collection fidelity are necessary. This is especially important in settings wherein behavior analysts rely on others to report data. Procedures for training and directly supervising data collectors do exist; however, few resources exist for data collectors working with limited supervisor presence. Electronic data collection (EDC) systems are uniquely positioned to help address this need, but little research exists to identify components of EDC systems that might contribute to their utility for maintaining data collection fidelity. The purpose of this study was to systematically evaluate the individual components of an EDC system on data collection fidelity of caregivers in a home setting in the absence of a supervisor. The results of the study indicated that each individual component assessed improved data collection over baseline with at least some participants by varying degrees. The component that had the largest effect on data collection was automated specific interval feedback, especially when paired with automated prompts. Therefore, researchers and practitioners relying on human data collection should consider the utilization of systems that can provide specific interval feedback and prompts.
Functional Assessment and Treatment of Elopement Occasioned by Transitions
(Applied Research)
DENICE RIOS MOJICA (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Elopement during transitions is a dangerous behavior in children with developmental disabilities because it greatly increases the risk of accidents that lead to serious injury or death. Despite its severity, assessment methodologies that specifically evaluate the contextual variables found during transitions are not available. Continued research on effective and efficient means for the assessment and treatment of elopement during transitions is needed. The current study consisted of three phases. In Phase 1, we conducted a trial-based transition functional analysis (TBTFA) to identify the function of elopement during transitions. In Phase 2, we used an ABAB reversal design to evaluate the effects of the intervention on elopement and appropriate transitions and evaluated the generality of effects in outside settings. Finally, in Phase 3, we evaluated whether a stimulus used during treatment set the occasion for appropriate transitions when treatment was terminated. The TBTFA successfully identified the function of elopement during transitions for all three participants. Additionally, elopement during transitions decreased and appropriate transitions increased for all three participants. Results of the stimulus control assessment indicated that we did not successfully establish a discriminative stimulus to occasion appropriate transitions.
Concurrent Operants Treatment of Escape-maintained Problem Behavior Using Random Reinforcement Schedules
(Applied Research)
REBECCA KOLB (University of Minnesota )
Abstract: Negative reinforcement is a common function of challenging behavior for individuals with developmental disabilities (DD; Beavers, Iwata, & Lerman, 2013). The treatment of escape-maintained problem behavior is important, as it interferes with crucial skill development. While there are a variety of evidence-based treatments available, many utilize extinction, which may be difficult to implement in some situations (Geiger, Carr, & LeBlanc, 2010). In these situations, there are competing reinforcement schedules available for different response options—or concurrent operants. Interventions based on concurrent operants have a developing literature base that supports their use in applied settings (e.g., Peterson et al., 2009; Davis et al., 2018). The current study evaluated the utility of random schedules of reinforcement within concurrent operant treatments in clinic and classroom settings for children with DD who displayed escape-maintained challenging behavior. Treatment effects were analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of random schedules in increasing task engagement and reducing challenging behavior using an alternating treatment with embedded reversal designs. All participants showed increases in task engagement and decreases in challenging behavior. Results suggest random schedules within concurrent operants treatment may be an effective treatment alternative, even though challenging behavior continues to receive reinforcement.
A Restriction/Intrusion Removal Process: A Guide for Fading Restrictive and Intrusive Procedures
(Service Delivery)
KELSEY WEBSTER (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Restrictive and intrusive procedures are used in the course of effective treatment to protect the safety of clients and others. Nonetheless, behavior analysts have an ethical obligation to implement the least restrictive procedures possible that are still deemed effective. However, when fading procedures for restrictions and intrusions are not a mandatory component of behavior support plans, these procedures may be in place longer than necessary. Extended utilization of restrictive and intrusive procedures could be viewed as limiting the client’s rights, especially if less restrictive procedures would also produce successful outcomes. One reason that these procedures are overused may be that behavior analysts have limited guidance and knowledge in developing efficient fading procedures. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to propose a restriction removal process which may guide practitioners attempting to fade out intrusive and/or restrictive procedures. This critical thinking process will guide practitioners through identifying restrictive/intrusive procedures, relevant behaviors, a terminal goal, intermediate steps, and mastery criteria for restriction/intrusion removal.



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