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 #211
CE Offered: BACB
The Use of Modern Technology to Promote Community Inclusion and Reduce Stigma for Adults With Autism
Sunday, May 29, 2022
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 254A
Area: AUT/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: James Chok (PennABA)
Discussant: Jessica Zawacki (Preparing Adolescents and Adults for Life)
CE Instructor: Jessica Zawacki, M.Ed.

Today, approximately one in 54 children are identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), compared to one in 150 in the year 2000 (Centers for Disease Control, 2020). This increasing prevalence has resulted in the adult system being flooded with individuals with ASD, who will require services and supports following the completion of their educational entitlement. Across longitudinal and cross sectional studies, findings show adults with ASD struggle with achieving independent living, employment, maintaining friendships, managing co-occurring mental health conditions, and have poorer quality of life (Billstedt, Gillberg & Gillberg, 2011; Roux, Shattuck, Rast, Rava, & Anderson, 2015; Sosnowy et al, 2019). The impact of stigma associated with traditional behavior analytic teaching techniques and various mental health conditions can be significant barriers to achieving these outcomes. Some of these stigmatizing experiences may be particular to ASD because core ASD symptoms (e.g. repetitive behaviors, lack of social awareness) can be disruptive in nature. Although public knowledge about ASD has increased (Dillenburger et al. 2013), the general public often lacks information needed to recognize disruptive behaviors as signs of ASD, which makes stigmatizing experiences more likely for individuals, caregivers, and support staff. With the decreasing costs and increasing capabilities of ubiquitous devices (e.g., web cameras, smart-phones, Skype®, FaceTime®, apple watches, remote signal devices), these stigmas can begin to be addressed in unique and effective ways allowing behavior analysts and behavior technicians to continue to improve outcomes.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Adults, CBI, Remote Technology, Stigma
Target Audience:

The audience should have a basic understanding of function-based treatment and practical applications of behavior analytic process such as functional assessment, prompting hierarchies, and community-based instruction.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) begin thinking creatively about ways to deliver behavior analytic interventions in the community in a more acceptable topography; (2) demonstrate knowledge surrounding the use of biometric measure to assess private behaviors; (3) have an increased knowledge related to comorbidity and the differences in presentation of autism and anxiety disorders

Use of Electrodermal Activity to Predict and Circumvent Problem Behavior Associated With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety in Adults With Autism

GLORIA SATRIALE (Mission for Educating Children with Autism), Jessica Zawacki (Preparing Adolescents and Adults for Life), Katie Brown (Preparing Adolescents and Adults for Life), Christi Rothermel (Preparing Adolescents and Adults for Life)

Almost 40% of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with a comorbid anxiety disorder (Zaboski & Storch, 2018). However, many individuals are misdiagnosed or do not receive the appropriate co-morbid diagnosis as both obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and ASD describe behaviors that are intrusive and repetitive, making it difficult to differentiate between them. The American Psychiatric Association (2013) described the distinction between the symptomologies by indicating that with OCD, the urges build in intensity and can cause significant distress to the person experiencing them which differs from the experiences of those just diagnosed with ASD. This can present many challenges for practitioners who are attempting to identify, disentangle, and treat behaviors using function-based treatment. This study using a single subject multi-treatment design, looked to use a portable device to measure the electrodermal activity through skin conductance responses (SCRs) of adults diagnosed with ASD and OCD. The researcher monitored, using real-time feedback (and during typical daily activities), each individual's SCRs to identify the potential stimuli evoking an obsessive or compulsive observable response (motoric or verbal). Each individual was then systematically desensitized to each evocative stimulus, until generalization was achieved and there was no longer a co-occurring biological response to the target stimuli.


Technological Prompting: Fading Staff Mediated Prompts Through the Use of a Vibrating Watch

KAITLIN ROSS (MECA), Jessica Zawacki (Preparing Adolescents and Adults for Life), Dan Walsh (Mission for Educating Children with Autism), Gloria Satriale (Mission for Educating Children with Autism)

Obtaining and maintaining employment within the community is one of the greatest challenges when working with adults with autism. Often there are false community perceptions surrounding the competence and ability of individuals with disabilities that can be exacerbated by traditional prompting and the clear presence of support staff. In the United States, individuals with disabilities make up almost one-fifth of the American population, but they are unemployed at a rate that is twice that of people without disabilities (Erickson et al., Disability statistics from the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Yang Tan Institute (YTI), 2016).When a job coach needs to deliver a clear prompt, this often requires the job coach to either provide a verbal direction from some distance (thereby increasing reliance on verbal directives) or increase their proximity to the individual (thereby encroaching on the individual's workspace and potentially coworkers). One way to reduce both the stigma associated with needing a support staff and the intrusiveness of this staff is through the use of technology. Remote tactile prompting in the form of vibrating pagers and watches has been demonstrated to be successful in increasing on-task behavior and social interactions with individuals with ASD (Finn et al., 2014; Milley & Machalicek, 2012). This study demonstrates the successful use of remote tactile prompting to increase the on-task work behavior of adults with ASD.




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Modifed by Eddie Soh