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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #20
CE Offered: BACB
Selecting and Teaching Meaningful Skills for Adolescents With Autism
Saturday, May 27, 2023
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4A/B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jennifer Posey (Endicott College)
CE Instructor: Shanna Bahry, Ph.D.

There has been a long standing call for the application of applied behavior analysis to problems of social importance. Applied behavior analysis practitioners are encouraged to provide socially valid care and to affect meaningful change. To do so, a practitioner must first identify meaningful goals and then teach them. This symposium will include a discussion on the evaluation of a training package designed to teach practitioners of behavior analysis to write meaningful goals. The presentation will also discuss strategies for teaching meaningful goals related to bullying and sexuality education to adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). An overview of goal selection, teaching procedures, and effectiveness of teaching will be discussed. This symposium will also include recommendations for future directions for the goals of ABA as pertaining to meaningful programming.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): bullying, meaningful goals, sexuality, Social validity
Target Audience:

The audience should include practicing behavior analysts or behavior analysts in training (BCBA, BCaBA), looking either to refine practice skills or prepare to utilize best practices after becoming certified. Prerequisite skills should include an understanding of basic behavior analytic principles, experience working with adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder or another developmental or intellectual disability, and preferably experience writing skill acquisition goals and developing programming for these clients. The presentations in this symposium will enhance practice abilities for those working with and writing goals for these populations within the context of a behavior analytic lens.

Learning Objectives: After attending this session, participants will be able to: (1) Identify factors that play a role in achieving quality outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. Identify what does and what does not constitute a meaningful goal for a client, and discuss tools that may be useful in writing meaningful goals. (2) Describe the importance of sexuality education and identify resources to required to provide comprehensive sex education to people on the autism spectrum. (3) Describe the importance of bullying prevention teaching specifically as it pertains to individuals on the autism spectrum. (4) Identify social goals related to bullying prevention that can be defined and taught using ABA strategies.

Examining the Effects of a Treatment Package Aimed at Improving the Writing of Meaningful Goals to Affect Outcomes in Adulthood

(Applied Research)
SHANNA BAHRY (Endicott College; Meaningful HOPE Inc.), Peter F. Gerhardt (The EPIC School; Endicott College), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation)

While the field of applied behavior analysis is in a position to affect meaningful change in the outcomes of clients on the autism spectrum, it is currently coming short of doing so. This presentation will show that while research exists for teaching how to write goals structurally, there is a gap in the literature for teaching practitioners how to write goals that are meaningful and impact adult outcomes. Data will be presented from a treatment package aimed at guiding the goal writing of behavior analyst practitioners to help increase the inclusion of goals that are meaningful, socially valid, and highly individualized in order to positively impact the trajectory of a client with autism.


The Effects of The Teaching Interaction Procedure to Teach Adolescents to Respond to Bullying

(Applied Research)
ASHLEY CREEM (Cultivate Behavioral Health and Education), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Joseph H. Cihon (Autism Partnership Foundation; Endicott College), Christine Milne-Seminara (Autism Partnership Foundation), Julia Ferguson (Autism Partnership Foundation)

Adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly display deficits with social communication, including difficulties with communicating their thoughts and feelings, advocating, and resolving conflict. These deficits make it difficult for adolescents with ASD to effectively respond to bullying, which places them at a significantly increased risk of being bullied than that of typically developing peers. This increased risk indicates the importance of remediating social skills deficits correlated with an increased risk of bullying. One intervention shown to effectively increase social skills for adolescents with ASD is the Teaching Interaction Procedure (TIP). This presentation will review the effectiveness of the TIP for teaching three adolescents diagnosed with ASD to emit a chain of social responses in response to being bullied.


Teaching Component Skills Related to Sexuality Safety to People With Autism Spectrum Disorders

(Applied Research)
JESSICA J. CAUCHI (none), Peter F. Gerhardt (The EPIC School), Mary Jane Weiss (Endicott College), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation)

Sexuality education is extremely important for persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). While there is much research supporting the need for sexuality education for people with autism, there is little experimental demonstration of teaching about sexuality for this population. This presentation will review a study which used an adapted alternating treatment design with control to evaluate two teaching methods (discrete trial teaching and behavioural skills training) to teach three children with autism two component skills related to sexuality safety. An in-situ probe was used to assess demonstration of skill in a natural environment setting. While all participants acquired both skills in teaching settings, in either teaching modality, in-situ probes of skill were demonstrated with variability and inconsistency for all participants. Future directions related to in-situ responding, as well as teaching component sexuality skills are suggested.




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