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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #503
CE Offered: BACB
Training Natural Change Agents to Implement Functional Analysis
Monday, May 30, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 203
Area: TBA/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Catharine Lory (Baylor University)
CE Instructor: Catharine Lory, Ph.D.
Abstract: Numerous recent advancements have been made in the variation and individualization of functional analysis (FA) protocols to ensure contextual fit with a client’s topography of challenging behavior and natural environment, time efficiency, and feasibility of implementation by natural change agents (e.g., caregivers, teachers, direct support staff). Training natural change agents to implement FA procedures not only empowers them to use behavior analytic techniques to assess and change behavior, it also promotes the sustainability of behavior analytic practices in natural settings. This symposium presents studies that examined existing practices on training natural change agents to implement FAs and investigated the use of technology to enhance the implementation of FAs in natural environments. The first paper systematically reviewed the quality of current literature and the strength of evidence on training natural change agents to implement FAs with individuals with developmental disabilities. The second paper investigated the use of a wearable technology within a modified FA protocol to explore the relationship between external, observable repetitive behavior and internal physiological responses in young children with autism and developmental disabilities. The third paper examined the use of telehealth as a service delivery model to support caregivers to implement brief FAs with children with autism at home.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): coaching, functional analysis, Telehealth, wearable technology
Target Audience: BCBAs, direct service professionals, advanced graduate students who are interested in advancing the implementation of functional analyses in natural environments. Prerequisite skills: Knowledge of functional analysis and experience with implementing functional analyses.
Learning Objectives: (1) Describe variables that are associated with effective implementation of functional analysis by natural change agents. (2) Identify factors that impact the effectiveness and acceptability of caregiver-implemented functional analysis. (3) Discuss the applicability of Telehealth as a tool for providing in-vivo coaching supports for practitioners implementing functional analysis.

Natural Change Agent Implemented Functional Analysis: A Systematic Review and Quality Appraisal

Emily Gregori (University of Illinois at Chicago), Christine Drew (Auburn University), Catharine Lory (Baylor University), SARAH DEANGELO (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Functional analysis (FA) is the most accurate method for identifying the operant function of challenging behavior. Although trained therapists typically implement FAs, previous research has shown that variables, including the assessment agent, may impact the results of a FA. Given that the assessment agent can impact FA results, there is a need to determine the impact of natural change agent training on fidelity of FA implementation. The purpose of this review was to (a) summarize the available literature on natural change agent implemented FA, (b) determine methods for training natural change agents to implement FAs, and (c) determine the effects of training on change agent implementation fidelity of FA. Thirty-seven studies were identified and evaluated against the What Works Clearinghouse Quality and Evidence standards. Most of the included studies were found to have strong methodological rigor and moderate or strong evidence of effectiveness. Common training components across studies including instructions, modeling, role play, feedback, and coaching. Results suggest these components can be effectively utilized to train parents, teachers, residential staff, and students to implement FA in a variety of applied settings. Recommendations for practitioners and directions for future research will be discussed.

Integrated Assessment of Repetitive Behavior and Heart Rate Variability Through Functional Analysis and Wearable Technology
CATHARINE LORY (Baylor University), Mandy J. Rispoli (Purdue University), Brandon Keehn (Purdue University), Rose A. Mason (Purdue University), Benjamin Mason (Purdue University)
Abstract: It has been established through decades of research that automatic reinforcement is the most prevalent operant function of repetitive behavior in individuals with autism. Yet there is no established method of manipulating the reinforcing variables of automatically maintained behavior as part of a functional analysis (FA). This is primarily due to barriers in accessing and measuring the automatic reinforcers produced by the behavior. The purpose of this study is to address this gap by using wearable technology to measure the internal physiological responses of children with autism who engage in repetitive vocal or motor behaviors, within a modified FA protocol. Six children with autism who engaged in frequent repetitive behavior participated in the study. Registered behavior technicians were coached via telehealth to implement the modified FA, which consisted of (1) alternating a high-stimulation condition and a low-stimulation condition to evoke different levels of repetitive behavior and (2) using a digital wristband to collect heart rate variability data during each FA session. Study results showed a positive correlation between the duration of repetitive behavior and heart rate variability, which suggests engaging in repetitive behavior produces changes in autonomic arousal.
An Extension of Caregiver-Implemented Brief Functional Analysis via Telehealth Technology
EMILY PAIGE EXLINE (Baylor University), Stephanie Gerow (Baylor University), Catharine Lory (Baylor University), David Cosottile (Baylor University), Kristina McGinnis (Baylor University), Remington Swensson (Baylor University), Monse Austin (Baylor University)
Abstract: Families of children with autism may not have access to applied behavior analytic services due to a variety of barriers, such as a lack of available behavior analysts in their geographic region. Telehealth as a service delivery method can help address this barrier, which typically involves behavior analysts coaching a caregiver or direct service staff to implement interventions. While telehealth services can be an alternative solution for overcoming access barriers, delivering challenging behavior assessments and interventions via telehealth require additional considerations. Gerow et al. (2020) developed a decision-making model for implementing brief functional analyses (BFAs) for practitioners who are coaching caregivers via telehealth. This study replicated the BFA decision-making model and procedures described by Gerow et al. (2020) with 18 parent-child dyads. This study aimed to (a) systematically replicate Gerow et al. (2020), (b) identify factors that are associated with the decision to implement additional sessions of the BFA, and (c) examine the social validity of the BFA procedures through a parent survey. We will discuss implications for practice related to the operationalization of target behavior and selection of putative reinforcer in this BFA model, and the acceptability of caregiver implementation of BFAs with telehealth coaching supports.



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