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 #287
CE Offered: BACB
Advancements in Social Communication and Challenging Behavior Interventions for Adolescents With Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 30, 2021
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Marie David (Purdue University)
CE Instructor: Marie David, M.Ed.

Adolescence is a complex time period among individuals with developmental disabilities where social demands may compete with preparation for post-school outcomes, such post-secondary education, employment, and independent living. Social-related challenges and challenging behavior tend to persist for young adults to developmental disabilities. These challenges may pose as a threat to positive post-school outcomes (Ke et al., 2018; Kucharczyk et al., 2015). Unfortunately, current literature on interventions specifically targeting the needs of adolescents with developmental disabilities are often replete in nature. Therefore, the current symposium will present a series of studies that address limitations in the available research on this topic. Specifically, this symposium will include a series of studies that present the results of (a) a meta-analysis on challenging behavior interventions implemented in school-based settings and (b) two experimental studies evaluating the effects of technology-based social communication interventions, including self-monitoring using I-connect and tele-coaching for adolescents with autism. Results of all studies suggest that difficulties in social communication and challenging behavior can be effectively addressed with using technology-based and behavior analytic approaches. Presenters will discuss how the results of these studies can inform current practice of Board Certified Behavior Analysts® and future research.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): adolescent, challenging behavior, developmental disabilities, social communication
Target Audience:

Graduate students in behavior analysis, clinicians working with individuals with problem behavior, applied researchers

Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will identify moderators that impact the efficacy of behavior analytic interventions targetting challenging behavior of adolescents with developmental disabilities in school-based settings. 2. Participants will describe the utility of a self-monitoring app in increasing social communication skills of an adolescent with autism spectrum disorder. 3. Participants will describe the efficacy of telecoaching in increasing social communication skills of adolescents with autism.

School-Based Interventions Targeting Challenging Behavior of Adolescents With Developmental Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis

Marie David (Purdue University), Rose A. Mason (Purdue University), Qingli Lei (Purdue University), Danni Wang (Engage, Learn and Grow), Catharine Lory (Purdue University), SUNGWOO KANG (Purdue University)

Challenging behavior tends to increase in levels during adolescence for individuals with developmental disabilities. If not addressed, this may lead to negative post-school outcomes for adolescents with developmental disabilities. The purposes of this meta-analysis were to examine the effects of behavioral intervention in reducing challenging behaviors of adolescents with developmental disabilities and identify the variables that could potentially moderate these effects. Searches for the meta-analysis were initially conducted in October 2017, October 2018 and updated in September 2020. This meta-analysis will include 30 studies that met standards for methodological rigor and experimental control. Preliminary analysis conducted prior to the recent update in search results indicated behavioral interventions were found to yield moderate effects for adolescents with developmental disabilities in school-based settings. Of the moderating variables, verbal ability, classroom setting, and planned reinforcement were found to moderate the effects of intervention outcomes with statistical significance. However, similar findings were not observed in behavioral outcomes based on the type of functional behavior assessment. Updated Effect sizes will be presented. Several implications for research and practice will be discussed.


Supporting Development of Social-Communication of Young Adults With Autism in Natural Settings: Impact of a Telecoaching Intervention

Rose A. Mason (Purdue University), MARIE DAVID (Purdue University), Emily Gregori (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Deficits in social communication often limit the ability of individuals with autism to communicate effectively, engage in meaningful conversations, and develop lasting relationships. While some of these skills may improve throughout childhood, difficulties in social interaction and communication tend to persist in adolescence. Unfortunately, there is limited research on social communication interventions for adolescents and adults with autism. According to prior research with children, the presence of an interventionist is often required to provide in-the-moment support. For adolescents, the presence of an adult facilitator can become a barrier in social interaction and pose as a threat for social stigmatization. Implementation of tele-coaching, however, may provide a mechanism to assist with development of core skills while also facilitating social independence. This study A multiple-baseline across participants design to examine the effects of tele-coaching on improving the social conversation skills of four high school students with autism. Four adolescents with autism participated in the study. Two conversation skills were targeted for each student with ASD. Implementation of tele-coaching resulted in the increase of targeted social communication skills and reduction of socially inappropriate behaviors across all participants. Implications for practice and recommendations for future research will be discussed.


Preliminary Investigation of a Self-Monitoring Application for a Postsecondary Student With Autism

LESLIE ANN BROSS (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Increasing numbers of transition-age youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are pursuing postsecondary education and will likely benefit from interventions to support them in college environments. This study used an alternating treatment design with a baseline and best treatment condition to examine the efficacy of a technology-based self-monitoring application, I-Connect, to increase the on-task classroom behavior of a male college student (age 19) with ASD. The study occurred in a large, lecture-style course at a public university. Self-monitoring prompts were delivered via a handheld tablet, and on-task behavior was measured used momentary time sampling procedures. The college student demonstrated an increase in on-task behavior when using the I-Connect application. He also decreased the percent of intervals with inappropriate vocalizations and stereotypic behavior. The college student and his professor reported overall satisfaction with the I-Connect application on social validity measures. Future research is needed to replicate this study with additional participants. Implications related to technology-based self-monitoring interventions to enhance the college experiences of young adults with ASD is discussed.




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