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

Previous Page


Symposium #188
CE Offered: BACB
Advancing Severe Problem Behaviour Research
Sunday, May 30, 2021
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Area: DEV/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Marie-Chanel Monique Morgan (Brock University)
Discussant: Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Griffin Rooker, Ph.D.

Between 10% and 15% of the population of individuals with intellectual and developmental disability engage in severe problem behavior. At times, many of these cases appear to be treatment-resistant. Therefore, clinicians may spend a disproportionate amount of time working and re-working assessment and treatment plans. It is imperative that the behavior analytic field continue working towards generating research that may expedite client recovery for these severe cases. The current symposium features two studies targeting different research gaps in the severe problem behavior literature. The first addresses the issue around the general absence of an objective operational definition for the term severe. The second describes an assessment strategy evaluating preference assessment stability across psychotropic medication adjustments in the context of a treatment facility offering intensive behavioral programming for adults with intellectual and developmental disability who engage in high-risk problem behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): preference assessments, problem behaviour, severe, statistical analysis
Exploring the Reliability of an Objective Severity Tool to Classify Severe Problem Behaviour
MARIE-CHANEL MONIQUE MORGAN (Brock University), Alison Cox (Brock University)
Abstract: The term severe is a common descriptor for problem behaviour in research and practice. However, it is often applied inconsistently, and at times based on ill-defined or arbitrary criteria. Measurement through direct observation may be the best way to objectively categorize problem behaviour. However, existing problem behaviour measurement tools often rely solely on caregiver recall (e.g., interviewing primary caregivers). This study aims to explore the reliability of the first iteration of a severity tool employing direct measurement strategies (e.g., response rate, injury severity as evidenced by permanent product) to categorize an individual’s problem behaviour severity. Eight Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) raters were recruited and divided into expert or novice groups according to their clinical experience with treating problem behaviour. Participants evaluated 20 case descriptions across two conditions. In the first condition, participants rated the severity of each of the 20 cases without access to the tool. In the second condition, participants were given 20 novel cases and access to the tool to rate case severity. Researchers examined each item’s added value, as well as the tool’s impact on rater consistency across and within participant rater groups. Preliminary outcomes suggest tool access increases reliability of classifying case severity.

Evaluating Preference Stability Across Psychotropic Medication Changes in Persons With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

AUTUMN KOZLUK (Brock University), Alison Cox (Brock University)

Behaviour analytic research evaluating psychotropic medication impact on persons with intellectual and developmental disability is relatively limited. To our knowledge, studies have yet to evaluate the impact psychotropic medications may have on preference stability across clinically indicated medications adjustments, as well as the displacement of stimulus classes. The current study will recruit approximately three adults who resided in a treatment facility for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who engage in high-risk problem behavior. We will evaluate preference stability by conducting three types of preference assessments (edible-item, leisure-item, and combined-class) repeatedly across medication adjustments (e.g., medication increases, decreases, addition, and or removal). Once data collection is complete, we will use a Spearman rank correlation coefficient and a Kendall’s rank correlation coefficient to analyze preference stability, as well as visual analysis to evaluate displacement.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh