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 #43
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Advancements in the Analysis of Precursors
Saturday, May 29, 2021
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joseph D. Dracobly (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Joseph D. Dracobly, Ph.D.
Abstract: The development and refinement of the functional analytic approach to severe behavior disorders has led to substantial advancements in effective intervention. Over the past 40 years, one area of focus has been methods to reduce risk during functional analysis. The identification and analysis of precursors may be one of the most effective approaches to reduce risk while maintaining a robust analysis. This approach, however, is predicated on accurately identifying a precursor, as without accurate identification, direct analysis of problem behavior may be required. Therefore, researchers have focused on improving methods for both quickly and accurately identifying precursors. In this symposium, three presenters will discuss several of these improvements. The first presentation will discuss using a lag-sequential analysis to identify antecedent behavior related to problem behavior. The second presentation will discuss the use of a structured checklist and video training to increase caregiver accuracy in identifying precursors. The final presentation will discuss a method to increase the frequency of precursors prior to functional analysis.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): antecedent, caregiver report, precursor, problem behavior
Target Audience: Attendees should have experience with conducting functional analyses of severe problem behavior.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Describe how lag-sequential analyses can be used to clarify antecedent behavior-problem behavior relationships, 2. Describe how video training can be used to increase the accuracy of precursor identification, and 3. Describe how reinforcing different responses can increase the prevalence of less severe responses prior to functional analysis.

Examining the Temporal Relation Between Antecedent and Problem Behaviors

GRIFFIN ROOKER (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michael P. Kranak (Oakland University), Elissa Spinks (Maryland Applied Behavior Analysis), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Intervening on a precursor to problem behavior (hereafter: precursor) appears to be a promising treatment strategy. However, the assessment of precursors is not routinely conducted in clinical practice. The relative inattention to precursors could be related to these behaviors being rare, the under identification of these behaviors, or both. However, there is good reason to believe that precursors are relatively common, but under identified. For example, Fritz et al. (2013) found that at least one antecedent behavior had a temporal relation with problem behavior for 16 individuals. Fritz et al. then conducted a subsequent analysis with 8 of those 16 individuals and determined that the antecedent behavior was a precursor in seven of eight cases. In the current study, a lag sequential analysis was conducted with 17 individuals who received assessment of problem behavior. Subsequent probability analysis indicated an antecedent behavior with a temporal relation to problem behavior was found for approximately 70% of individuals. Results suggest that antecedent behaviors commonly enter into temporal relations with problem behavior. Implications of this finding will be discussed.

Improving Caregiver Report of Precursors to Severe Problem Behavior
MEGAN SKRBEC (University of Houston - Clear Lake), Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Amber Prell (University of Houston- Clear Lake), Victoria Fletcher (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: Previous studies that provide information regarding precursor behaviors have shown that caregiver reports of precursor behaviors are not always accurate. In this study, caregivers initially could not identify any potential precursors to their child’s problem behavior and reported that the severe problem behavior occurred “out of the blue” or “randomly.” We used a structured precursor checklist and video-trainings to assist each caregiver in reporting more accurate precursor behaviors for their child. This study was conducted via HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing software. Results showed that a checklist of potential precursor behaviors somewhat improved caregiver report, but there was a significant increase in correct number of accurate precursor behaviors identified post video-training when caregivers scored videos of their child’s precursors and problem behavior.
A Preliminary Evaluation of Increasing Precursors Prior to Functional Analysis
AUDREY H. NEWKIRK (University of North Texas), Joseph D. Dracobly (University of North Texas), Carla M. Smith (University of North Texas), Katy Atcheson (University of North Texas), Richard G. Smith (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Previous research on precursor identification has focused on quantitative methods to identify the precursor-problem behavior relation. This requires substantial co-occurrence of the precursor and problem behavior. However, in some environments, reinforcement of problem behavior may occur at higher rates than reinforcement of a putative precursor. This presents a barrier to determining which response is, in fact, a precursor. Therefore, we arranged a differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) contingency to clarify the relation between responses. We found that altering the DRO requirements produced a decrease in the most severe forms of behavior and an increase in the least severe forms of behavior. Additionally, we determined that when more severe problem behavior occurred, it was reliably preceded by less severe forms of problem behavior.



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