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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #122
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advances in the Assessment of Problem Behavior
Saturday, May 29, 2021
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brandon C. Perez (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Brandon C. Perez, M.S.

Functional analyses have long been the standard for identifying the environmental variables maintaining problematic behavior. Furthermore, there have been many modifications to the original functional analyses procedures described by Iwata et al. (1982/1994). This symposium will discuss three recent advances in the assessment of problem behavior. The first presentation will discuss the use of a no-interaction condition to predict behavioral function and to inform a subsequent treatment analysis. The second presentation will discuss an assessment procedure for determining if response blocking serves as a reinforcer for problem behavior. The final talk will discuss the use of a preference assessment as a potential screening tool for problem behavior maintained by access to tangible items.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): functional analysis, problem behavior
Target Audience:

Understanding of functional analysis procedures

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) use information gathered from a no-interaction condition to inform behavioral function and subsequent treatment recommendations (2) determine the function of response blocking for an individual with problem behavior (3) use a preference assessment to gather information on problem behavior which can inform a subsequent functional analysis
Using an Extended No-Interaction Condition to Inform Treatment Analysis
SAVANNAH TATE (University of Florida), Janelle Kirstie Bacotti (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Crystal M. Slanzi (University of Florida)
Abstract: The extended no-interaction condition of an FA has been used to identify whether problem behavior is maintained by automatic reinforcement or by socially mediated reinforcement (Querim et al., 2013). More recently, the condition has been used to predict whether various topographies of problem behavior are maintained by access to tangibles, access to attention, or escape from aversive stimuli (e.g., demands) for individuals with ASD. We extended this work by conducting subsequent treatment analyses following the FA method. In the majority of participants, the extended no-interaction condition successfully predicted behavioral function and informed the treatment analyses such that lower rates of problem behavior occurred.
Preliminary Outcomes from a Response Blocking Reinforcer Assessment
CARA L. PHILLIPS (May Institute), Meghan Deshais (Caldwell University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Jennifer R. Zarcone (The May Institute)
Abstract: Response blocking involves physically preventing a behavior from occurring or from having a potentially dangerous impact. Research has shown that blocking can produce decreases in a variety of problem behaviors (e.g., self-injurious behavior; Jennett et all., 2011; pica; Hagopian & Adelinis, 2001; motor stereotypy; Giles et al., 2012) via punishment or extinction effects (Lerman & Iwata, 1996; Smith, et al, 2013). However, blocking may, at times, have counter-therapeutic effects and produce increases in behavior rather than decreases. The purpose of the current study was to assess whether response blocking may function as a positive reinforcer for children diagnosed with ASD. In brief sessions, an arbitrary response was blocked, then blocking was discontinued mid-way through the session, and a second arbitrary response was blocked. We targeted arbitrary responses to minimize the potential side-effects associated with blocking a response with a strong reinforcement history. An analysis of within-session patterns of responding suggested that for some participants, blocking did serve as a positive reinforcer. Results for other participants suggested that blocking may function as a neutral stimulus or as a punisher. The clinical implications of our findings will be discussed.
Problem Behavior During Preference Assessments: A Tangible Function Screening
BRANDON C. PEREZ (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Several studies have examined problem behavior occurring during preference assessments. Roane et al., 1998 found that the free-operant (FO) preference assessment generally resulted in less problem behavior than multiple-stimulus-without-replacement (MSWO) and paired-stimulus (PS) preference assessments. This is potentially due to the fact that subjects are given free access to engage with any or all of stimuli in a FO preference assessment and these stimuli are not removed during the session. Whereas, in MSWO and PS arrangements, the stimuli are removed after a period of access and the next array presented. This repeated removal and representation in PS and MSWO may be responsible for elevated problem behavior in these assessments. Furthermore, Kang et al., 2010 and Tung et al., 2017 have replicated and extended Roane et al., 1998 to individuals with problem behavior maintained by access to tangible items. The current study will evaluate the extent to which individuals who engage in problem behavior during preference assessments is indicative of problem behavior maintained by access to tangible items.



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