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 #410
Outside the Box: Expanding our Scope of Practice to All Those in Need
Monday, May 30, 2022
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 103
Area: CBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Brian Keith Mason (Endicott College; Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board)

The ongoing world-wide pandemic has significantly impacted populations that behavior analysts serve with co-occurring diagnoses and mental health issues. This symposium discusses the expansion of ABA to populations and contexts beyond developmental and intellectual disabilities. The content presented discusses three areas that include 1) application of behavior analytic procedures to non-traditional populations such as psychiatric inpatients; 2) non-traditional assessments using functional analysis for the covert behavior of language able individuals; and 3) a recent survey on behavior analysts’ understanding of mental health is presented with compelling statistics suggesting the need for deeper attention and focus in this area. This symposium is a call to expand our training and practice of ABA to transdisciplinary work and important societal issues that are very likely to be encountered by practicing behavior analysts. Behavior analysts at all levels should be concerned about the diverse needs of their client population and how best to address them.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Behavior Analysts, Functional Analysis, Inpatient Psychiatric, Mental Health
Behavior Analysts' Understanding of Mental Health
JENNIFER POSEY (Holdsambeck Behavioral Health; Endicott College), Valbona Demiri (Hopewell Valley Regional School District; Endicott College)
Abstract: Mental illness is a significant issue world-wide. Mental health impacts individuals and their families as it relates to not only pain and suffering but daily functioning, physical well- being and is financially costly to society (Kazdin, 2018). Behavior analysts do not receive direct training on mental health issues as part of their degree requirements, despite the high likelihood that they will encounter various forms of mental illness in their settings. This limits the population that behavior analysts are able to work with to that of developmental and intellectual disabilities. A survey titled, “Behavior Analysts’ Understanding of Mental Illness” was sent to behavior analysts in 2021with 282 respondents completing it via the online Qualtrics platform. The results indicate that 80 percent of respondents would like to incorporate mental illness study within their behavior analytic coursework. In addition, 82 percent of respondents reported encountering issues of mental illness within their work settings. Discussion of the historical roots of ABA and mental illness are offered as well as a call to expand our scope of practice to this societal issue.
Using Discrete Trial Training to Assist Competency to Stand Trial Restoration
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to assist the defendants in learning courtroom terms, to ultimately restore competency using discrete trial training (DTT). Incompetence to stand trial is a legal requirement where a person who is charged with crimes is determined to be unable to defend him or herself because of the lack of “sufficient present ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and a rational as well as factual understanding of proceedings against him” (Dusky v United States, 1960). A multiple-baseline, across behaviors design was used in a hospital setting with adult psychiatric inpatient participants to restore competency to stand trial using DTT. Two verbal operants and a matching task exercise were implemented to teach courtroom terms. It is anticipated that data will indicate low levels of acquisition of courtroom terms in baseline when compared to DTT instruction. The utility and limitations of DTT applied to psychiatric populations and competency to stand trial are discussed with suggestions of future research.

Brief Acceptance and Commitment Training Functional Analysis and Treatment of Neurotypical Adults and Individuals With Autism

LARISA SHEPERD (Endicott College)

Function-based direct contingency management strategies are typically developed after conducting a functional analysis (FA). However, there are times when behavior is either resistant or slow to respond to environmental manipulations. Identifying covert behavioral contingencies that interfere with direct contingency management may help in the design of strategies that bring behavior under the control of optimal direct contingencies. In the current study, we used the Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACTr) matrix as a descriptive procedure for uncovering covert behavioral contingencies governing unwanted behavior in children with ASD and neurotypical adults. Subsequently, we contrived analogue situations to evoke verbal protest that verified hypotheses generated during the descriptive assessment. The analogue ACT-FA procedure involved a within-subject alternating treatment design where the establishing and abolishing operations (EO and AO, respectively) were randomly interspersed. EOs were designed to evoke verbal protest when participants’ cognitions were challenged and AOs to validate participants’ cognitions about their experiences. We subsequently evaluated changes in overt behavior using a multiple baseline across participants design. The analogue ACT-FA suggests strong utility as a tool to uncover the indirect contingencies influencing behavior. Procedures, results, and suggestions for further research are offered.




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