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.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #97
CE Offered: BACB
Technology is Defining the Future: Exploring the Use of Applied Behaviour Analysis in Virtual Reality
Saturday, September 3, 2022
10:30 AM–11:20 AM
Meeting Level 2; Wicklow Hall 2A
Area: EDC; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Aoife McTiernan (National University of Ireland, Galway)
CE Instructor: Aoife McTiernan, Ph.D.

In our ever changing world, technology is rapidly defining our work and how we implement Applied Behavior Analysis. Within this symposium we explore how Applied Behavior Analysis was embedded in the development of Virtual Reality applications to optimise learning. The symposium will outline how Applied Behaviour Analysis was rooted in the creation of education materials for adolescent and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Virtual Reality applications were used to teach social skills and leisure activities, in order to enhance social skills for employment and increase physical activity for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Technology has many advantages, but in order to maximise the use of such technologies, it is vital to educate staff who support people with disabilities about the range of technologies available to them (i.e. Robotics, Smart Homes, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality). Training also needs to outline the scope for their application, how to use the equipment, considerations when using technology with individuals with developmental disabilities and ethical challenges and issues.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Autism, Staff training, Technology, Virtual Reality
Target Audience:

Participants should have a basic understanding of the principles of applied behavior analysis and their application.

Learning Objectives: 1) Participants will have an understanding of how the principles of applied behavior analysis can be embedded within Virtual Reality scenarios. 2) Participants will have knowledge on how to programme for generalisation within Virtual Reality applications 3) Participants will be familiar with a range of applications of behavioral strategies within Virtual Reality in order to support people with developmental and intellectual disabilities

Working Through: Pilot Study Evaluating the Use of a Virtual Reality Programme to Teach Social Skills for Employment to Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

HELENA LYDON (National University of Ireland Galway), Jennifer Holloway (National University of Ireland, Galway), Ciara Gunning (National University of Ireland Galway)

Working Through is a European research project that combines Virtual Reality and the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to teach social skills for employment to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Partners from Ireland, Greece, Denmark and Cyprus collaborated across two years to design, pilot and assess the virtual reality program. Working Through presents a social skills curriculum which focuses on six core skills: emotional recognition, initiating a conversation with a colleague, meeting a stranger, negotiating with a salesperson, a job interview, and working with co-workers and managing conflicts. The curriculum is developed through a pedological framework which is grounded in ABA and delivered within a virtual reality. Teaching sessions provided individuals with opportunities to practice and master skills prior to advancement to the next skill in the curriculum. Individuals were presented with variations of each scenario in order to promote generalisation of each skill. Data were gathered on knowledge and performance of each skill at baseline and post training, as well as the number of sessions required to complete each skill, across participating countries. Results showed that following completion of the curriculum, all participants increased their knowledge and performance of the skill.


Sport in Autism (SPAUT): Incorporating Evidence-Based Practice and Stakeholder Perspectives into the Development of Virtual Reality Application to Teach Table Tennis as a Leisure Skill

JENNIFER HOLLOWAY (National University of Ireland, Galway), Helena Lydon (National University of Ireland Galway), Ciara Gunning (National University of Ireland Galway), Anna Mc Coy (ABACAS Special School)

The current project involved a multi-disciplinary approach to sport education for adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The aim of the project is to promote social inclusion, equal opportunities in sport and access to table tennis for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder in mainstream activities. The curriculum was designed to provide coaches with: (i) the knowledge of how to teach table tennis to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and (ii) to provide them with a greater understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder and in Virtual Reality in order to enable them to order to deliver the Virtual Reality training to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to support them to increase physical activity through playing table tennis. The application of Applied Behaviour Analysis was core to the develop of the curriculum through the inclusion of task analysis for teaching the skills of table tennis (i.e., Serve, Drive, Push, Block, Smash, Basic sequence of a table tennis rally), as well as the use of prompts, prompt fading, and reinforcement. Partners across Europe, including Ireland, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey will pilot this training with sports coaches and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Cutting Edge Digital Skills (DDSkills): Disseminating Knowledge to Health Care Professionals on Technological Interventions to Support People With Disability

CIARA GUNNING (National University of Ireland Galway), Helena Lydon (National University of Ireland Galway), Jennifer Holloway (National University of Ireland, Galway), Aoife McTiernan (National University of Ireland, Galway)

DDSKILLS is an innovative research project which aims to teach healthcare professionals digital skills to support the implementation of digital healthcare and eHealth for persons with complex needs. In striving to empower people to become more autonomous and to manage their own health and independent living, healthcare professionals have a key role to play in assisting with and explaining the use of digital solutions. Researchers have an important role in communicating the evidence base for such technologies to healthcare professionals. DDSkills aims to develop a digital skills training curriculum for healthcare professionals in Assistive Technologies for individuals with disabilities, including; Robotic Devices, SmartHome, Virtual Reality, and Brain Computer Interfaces. This presentation will discuss the development of the curriculum content on Virtual Reality, including; an introduction to these technologies, potential applications in supporting people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, advantages, considerations, and troubleshooting. Dissemination and training will also be discussed within the context of the DDSkills project.




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