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 #320
Application of Behavior Analytic Principles and Techniques for Individuals With Prader-Willi Syndrome
Sunday, May 30, 2021
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Annette Griffith (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) affects up to 1 in 15,000 people worldwide (Cassidy & Driscoll, 2009). Among other characteristics, individuals with PWS often experience hyperphagia (excessive hunger). The presence of hyperphagia often leads to problem behaviors such as aggressive food-seeking, food-stealing, and over-eating. Hyperphagia, and the associated problem behaviors, can at minimum pre-dispose individuals with PWS to develop obesity and associated health risks, but can also be very dangerous, resulting in death due to stomach rupture. (Dykens, 2000). A variety of interventions have been developed to address the behavioral difficulties presented by many individuals with PWS, including behavior analytic interventions. This symposium will consist of three parts. First, a literature review will be presented, to describe the current status of the behavior analytic literature, as it relates to PWS. Second, findings will be presented from an archival study, that examined the effects of a comprehensive treatment package for the management of diet and behavior for adults with PWS at a residential facility (Bedard et al., 2020). Finally, information will be presented on the development of a behavioral parent training program for parents of children with PWS. Recommendations will be made for future direction of behavior analytic intervention for PWS.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Literature Review, Parent Training, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Residential

Behavior Analysis and Prader Willi Syndrome: A Literature Review

Kasey Bedard (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Annette Griffith (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), PATTY WEIGAND (Behavior Analysis Services, Inc.)

A systematic literature review was conducted to gain an understanding of the scientific evidence relevant to the behavior analytic intervention focused on assessment and intervention for individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Results of the review suggest that behavioral interventions have been largely successful in reducing weight, food stealing, and behavior problems in adults with PWS. Findings also suggest that exercise, training on healthy food choices, training on self-monitoring of food intake, and reinforcing weight loss have all been shown to be effective interventions for reducing weight (Altman, Bondy & Hirsch, 1978; Maglieri, DeLeon, Rodriguez-Catter & Sevin, 2000; Singh et al., 2008). Also, differential reinforcement of other behaviors (DRO), a procedure where an individual is reinforced for the absence of problem behavior, has demonstrated positive effects for reducing cover food stealing, weight (Page, Finney, et al., 1983; Page, Stanley, et al.,1983; Rone, 2010), and rectal digging, when combined with limited bathroom time and Functional Communication Training (Stokes & Luiselli, 2009). Bedard et al. (2020), described the effect of multiple contingencies, such as DRO, token economies, training alternative behaviors, self-management, and discrimination training on reducing weight, food stealing, tantrum behaviors, skin picking, rectal digging, and problem behavior, with progress and treatment gains maintained over a six year span. Together these findings support the use of behavior intervention to reduce and eliminate weight gain and problem behaviors associated with PWS. These findings will be discussed, along with directions for future research.


Behavioral and Dietary Management for Adults With Prader-Willi Syndrome in a Residential Setting

ANNETTE GRIFFITH (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Kasey Bedard (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)

Archival data will be presented to demonstrate the effects of a comprehensive treatment package for the management of diet, weight, and behavior for adults with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) at a residential facility. Data were collected from forty-five individuals with PWS who participated in the residential program over a span of six years. Data were analyzed to provide a summary of the characteristics of the individuals, and to evaluate the change in weight and behavior difficulties associated with PWS (e.g., food stealing, aggression, skin picking). Although the study relied on archival data, the results suggest strong evidence to support efficacy of the program in reducing weight, food stealing, and other behavioral topographies. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

Development of a Behavioral Parent Training Program for Parents of Children with Prader-Willi Syndrome
KASEY BEDARD (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Annette Griffith (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: This session will present information about the development and planned assessment of a parent training program for prevention and management of problem behaviors commonly associated with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) for children between the ages of 2 and 12 years. In addition to the hyperphagia and extensive food stealing, children with PWS often suffer from pervasive problem behavior, including severe tantrums, self-injury including skin picking, task refusal, and OCD-type behaviors such as rigidity and repetitive routines, and perseverative questions and actions (Sinnema et al., 2011). Despite extensive research, there are currently no established interventions for PWS (Arnold, 2017; Marinari et al., Liu, Wong, Lam, & Ng, 2020; Scheimann et al., 2012). As a result, children with PWS and their families are left to deal with dangerous and disruptive problem behavior. Therefore, a comprehensive parent training program has been developed to teach parents to prevent, reduce, and eliminate problem behavior. Information will be provided to describe the development of the program, and the process for assessment of the feasibility, effectiveness, and social validity of this program.



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