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 #391
CE Offered: BACB
Advancements in Practical Functional Assessment and Treatment Research
Monday, May 31, 2021
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: John E. Staubitz (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, TRIAD)
Discussant: Joshua Jessel (Queens College, City University of New York)
CE Instructor: John E. Staubitz, M.Ed.
Abstract: The interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA; see Hanley et al., 2014) was developed to provide clinicians with a more practical functional assessment and treatment process by reducing the amount of time clients spend participating in functional analyses. Although the IISCA can often be completed in 25 minutes (Coffey et al., 2020), other barriers to implementing these assessment and treatment procedures remain. This symposium highlights recent methodological adaptations of the IISCA and its resulting skill-based treatment process that advance research towards reducing treatment barriers such as concerns about client safety, the geographical distance between clinicians and their clients, novel therapist skills needed to deliver the treatment, and means of assessing client skill generalization. Presentation topics include: a post-hoc analysis of problem behavior emitted during IISCAs where single or multiple behavior topographies were targeted for reinforcement; a pilot investigation of an assessment for evaluating generalization of clients’ communication and toleration skills; a telehealth application of the IISCA and skill-based treatment process; and an interactive partially-automated training package to teach therapist behaviors to registered behavior technicians.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): functional assessment, problem behavior, staff training, teleconsultation
Target Audience: This is an intermediate level symposium appropriate for behavior analysts with experience conducting functional analyses, functional communication training, or skill-based treatment. They should have experience working or researching in applied settings in which behavior analysts face challenges to assessment and intervention including human resources, time, physical space/location, safety, and client acceptability. In other words, they should appreciate that the methods highlighted in these presentations are intended for an audience of practicing behavior analysts or scientists concerned with improving the practice of behavior analysis.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Articulate the expected differences in problem behavior rate when they reinforce an open contingency class as an alternative to a closed contingency class within a functional analysis; 2) Describe the extent to which individualized patterns of communication and toleration skills were captured for clients by the Behavioral Skills Assessment; 3) Evaluate the efficacy of a practical functional assessment and treatment process delivered by parents with telehealth support; 4) Provide a summary of the staff training techniques that contributed to registered behavior technicians' acquisition of novel therapist behaviors for delivering skill-based treatment
A Within-Session Examination of Open and Closed Contingency Classes in Functional Analysis
KARA LACROIX (Western New England University, The Autism Community Therapists, LLC, FTF Behavioral Consulting), Cory Whelan (Western New England University, The Autism Community Therapists, LLC, FTF Behavioral Consulting), Mahshid Ghaemmaghami (FTF Behavioral Consulting ), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University, FTF Behavioral Consulting), Emily Byrne (The Autism Community Therapists)
Abstract: Functional analysis (FA) is a commonly-recommended approach for identifying contingencies maintaining problem behavior because treatments informed by FA lead to greater reductions in problem behavior than treatments informed by indirect or descriptive assessments (Campbell, 2003; also see Heyvaert et al., 2014). Despite the benefits of FA technologies, FAs are not widely used by clinicians due to the lack of resources, acceptability of procedures, and safety for participants and implementers (Oliver et al., 2015; Roscoe et al., 2015). Warner et al. (2019) demonstrated that problem behaviors reported to co-occur were members of the same response class and thus recommended using an open contingency class (OCC) in FAs to mitigate risk. The present study extends this line of research by comparing within-session patterns of responding during three FAs conducted with an OCC and three FAs conducted with a closed contingency classes (CCC). Participants were five children diagnosed with autism enrolled in an ABA program. All participants who experienced an OCC spent a greater percentage of test session in reinforcement, emitted fewer instances of problem behavior, and engaged in less dangerous behavior. This presentation will provide clinicians with implications for selecting an OCC or CCC in an FA and recommendations for practice.
Toward Rapid and Safe Assessment of Communication and Toleration Skills
JOHANNA STAUBITZ (Vanderbilt University), John E. Staubitz (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, TRIAD), William P Martin (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, TRIAD)
Abstract: While it is the stated aim of behavior analysts to train to generalize rather than train and hope (Stokes and Baer, 1977), it can be challenging to assess the degree to which treatment produces behavior change under novel circumstances, or changes which are maintained over time. To evaluate generalization of the effects of skill-based treatment (SBT; Hanley et al., 2014), we developed and piloted a variation on the functional analysis which yields information about communicative and toleration responses emitted under multiple conditions, while leveraging synthesized contingencies to promote safety. In this exploratory investigation, we implemented this brief behavioral skills assessment for 6 elementary students with emotional/behavioral disorders who participated in an Enhanced Choice Model of SBT (Rajaraman et al., 2020). We conducted the assessment at various time points, including pre-treatment, mid-treatment, and post-treatment, for overlapping groups of students. Skills and precursor/problem behavior varied by individual and assessment time point, indicating assessment sensitivity. Assessment time ranged from 11 to 36 min, and we observed severe problem behavior in 1 of 6 participants. Results suggest this brief behavioral skills assessment is rapid, safe, sensitive to individual differences, and warrants further investigation as an approach for evaluating generalization of treatment effects.
Distance-Based Collaborations for Assessing and Treating Problem Behavior
RACHEL METRAS (Western New England University, FTF Behavioral Consulting), Matthew Carbone (Western New England University, FTF Behavioral Consulting), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University, FTF Behavioral Consulting)
Abstract: Interview-informed synthesized contingency analyses (IISCAs) and resulting skill-based treatment processes can result in socially valid outcomes for clients exhibiting severe problem behavior when treatment is implemented by a professional and then transferred to caregivers (Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty, 2014; Santiago, Hanley, Moore, & Jin, 2016; Taylor, Phillips, & Gertzog, 2018). However, many families do not have access to professionals trained to implement functional analyses or function-based treatments (Deochand & Fuqua, 2016), which means the assessment and treatment of problem behavior is only possible if caregivers implement their children’s intervention procedures. Parents who implement functional analyses and function-based treatments while receiving remote support from a professional can achieve both differentiated functional analyses and reductions in problem behavior (e.g., Suess et al., 2014), but these results have not been replicated with the IISCA. In the present study, three parents of children with autism were taught to implement an IISCA and skill-based treatment process through distance-based collaborative consulting. All parents achieved differentiated functional analyses for their children and at least a 90% reduction in problem behavior relative to baseline. The extent to which general and socially validated outcomes are possible when parents implement these procedures with telehealth support will be discussed.

Using Technology to Efficiently Train Registered Behavior Technicians to Implement Skill-Based Treatment: A Tiered Approach

MARNEY SQUIRES POLLACK (Vanderbilt University), Johanna Staubitz (Vanderbilt University), John E. Staubitz (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, TRIAD), William P Martin (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, TRIAD), Kate Tygielski Chazin (Vanderbilt University)

The efficacy of skill-based treatment (SBT; Hanley et al., 2014) has been demonstrated across contexts, client populations, and research groups (e.g., Herman et al., 2018, Rose & Beaulieu, 2019). Published studies involved several hours of treatment on a weekly basis, delivered by board certified behavior analysts. In practice, however, behavior analysts’ time for direct service provision is constrained. For treatment dosage to approach the level investigated in efficacy studies, it is particularly important that other personnel (e.g., Registered Behavior Technicians [RBTs]) are trained as primary interventionists, and procedures used to train these personnel are efficient. We used a multiple baseline design across behaviors to evaluate the effects of a partially-automated, tiered training system on RBT intervention fidelity. Training tiers included an interactive, automated training package, targeted pre-session feedback and modeling with role-play. Three clinic-based RBTs participated in the study. Outcomes suggest, with a high degree of confidence, that an interactive, automated training package plus individualized, pre-session feedback increased RBTs’ fidelity to criterion levels, relative to a baseline condition with rationale and brief written instructions. Differences in fidelity within and across participants across the various tiers of training indicate a need for an individualized training approach.




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