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 #107
CE Offered: BACB
Considerations When Selecting Functional Analysis Methods
Saturday, September 3, 2022
11:30 AM–12:20 PM
Meeting Level 1; Liffey A
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Shannon Ward (Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education operated by The New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Shannon Ward, Ph.D.
Abstract: Functional analysis (FA) is one of the most researched and empirically validated methods in applied behavior analysis (Beavers et al., 2013; Hanley et al., 2003). However, simply conducting an FA does not guarantee a positive outcome and there are many FA formats to choose from. The current symposium includes three recent reviews of FA research. Our first presenter will review the extent to which FA methods have been socially validated by caregivers. Our second presenter will review the empirical research that describes methods of training practitioners to conduct functional analyses. Finally, our third presenter will review the prevalence of synthesized contingencies in the FA literature and describe its relative benefits and disadvantages. In the treatment of problem behavior, it is important clinicians select FA methods that will be efficacious and also lead to impressive outcomes. This symposium will offer attendees considerations to make when selecting FA methods and when preparing to conduct functional analyses.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Functional Analysis, Social Validity, Staff Training, Synthesized Contingencies
Target Audience: Intermediate – Given that this symposium will cover considerations for selecting and implementing functional analysis methods, attendees should have knowledge of various functional analysis methods and preferably have conducted at least one functional analysis prior to attending.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to 1) identify three considerations to be made when selecting functional analysis methods; 2) identify 1-2 features of functional analysis formats that are likely predictive of caregiver acceptability; 3) describe the extent to which training on conducting functional analysis has been evident in the literature; 4) describe what a synthesized functional analysis is and provide one example of research that supports its use
A Review of the Acceptability of Functional Analyses for Problem Behavior and Their Associated Outcomes
SHANNON WARD (Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education operated by The New England Center for Children), Gregory P. Hanley (FTF Behavioral Consulting)
Abstract: Despite the broad support of functional analysis for treating problem behavior (Beavers et al., 2013; Hanley et al., 2003), two recent surveys reported that most behavior analysts do not regularly use functional analysis as part of the functional assessment process (Oliver et al., 2015; Roscoe et al., 2015). The reported non-use of functional analysis may be related to poor initial efficacy of the selected analytic format (Hagopian et al., 2013; Slaton et al., 2017) or due to a paucity of socially validated analysis methods or those followed by satisfactory outcomes. In this paper, we reviewed caregiver acceptability of functional analysis procedures and caregiver satisfaction with treatment outcomes preceded by a functional analysis. We describe the prevalence and collective results on the acceptability of functional analysis methods and the extent to which functional analyses lead to satisfactory outcomes. Factors that may be predictive of functional analysis acceptability are discussed and areas for future research are provided.

On The Status of Training Practitioners to Conduct Functional Analyses

CORY WHELAN (The Autism Community Therapists, LLC), Gregory P. Hanley (FTF Behavioral Consulting)

Practitioners have a range of technologies available to them when tasked with conducting a functional behavior assessment. Functional analysis is considered the most rigorous form of problem behavior assessment and can lead to efficacious, function-based treatments. However, practitioners often report an exclusive reliance on indirect or descriptive assessments despite several studies describing methodologies for training clinicians to conduct functional analyses. The purpose of the current review is to (a) identify articles that describe methods of training practitioners to conduct functional analyses; (b) describe their unique contributions and their limits; and (c) discuss recommendations for future research.

Nature and Scope of Synthesis in Functional Analysis and Treatment of Problem Behavior
JESSICA SLATON (Nashoba Learning Group), Gregory P. Hanley (FTF Behavioral Consulting)
Abstract: Functional analysis (FA) of problem behavior typically includes the contingent delivery of a single reinforcer following problem behavior. However, the FA literature also includes examples of analyses that have delivered multiple reinforcers, arranged multiple establishing operations in one or more test conditions, or both. These analyses have been successfully applied under heterogeneous conditions over several decades and with various synthesized establishing operations and reinforcers, but their qualitative details, outcomes, and contributions to the literature have only recently been described in a comprehensive manner. The purpose of this review was to: (a) identify articles that have reported the use of synthesized FAs or treatments; (b) describe the nature and scope of synthesis as it has been applied in the FA literature; (c) analyze outcomes of synthesized FAs and treatments to determine general benefits and disadvantages of synthesis; and (d) offer recommendations for future areas of research. We found that 94% percent of all synthesized FAs were differentiated, and synthesized treatments indicated an average mean baseline reduction of 90.2% across all treatment applications.



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