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 #353
CE Offered: BACB
Procedural Modifications to the Practical Functional Assessment and Skill-Based Treatment Model
Monday, May 29, 2023
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4E/F
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Laura A Hanratty (Elms College)
Discussant: Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)
CE Instructor: Einar T. Ingvarsson, Ph.D.

Hanley et al. (2014) introduced a comprehensive model for assessing and treating problem behavior. The model begins with a functional analysis incorporating a single test condition evaluating an ecologically relevant contingency. The results inform the subsequent treatment teaching increasingly complex communication skills. Finally, denials are introduced and the individual is taught how to cooperate with adult instruction. The process in its entirety has been termed the practical functional assessment and skill-based treatment model. Since the seminal publication, modifications to the procedures have been introduced to reduce barriers of clinical concern. The first speaker will briefly introduce multiple adaptions to the practical functional assessment focusing on procedures designed to improve efficiency and safety. The second speaker will provide a detailed account of a procedural modification using latency as a measure of problem behavior across a collection of 20 applications. The third speaker replicates the entire comprehensive model using a novel practical functional assessment format that is dependent on achieving calm behavior to reduce unmanageable escalation. The fourth speaker adapts the model for the group setting, where one-to-one implementation is unfeasible. The collection of studies outline multiple modifications designed to help inform effective assessment and treatment of problem behavior under varied circumstances.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): functional analysis, functional assessment, skill-based treatment
Target Audience:

Practitioners interested in learning more about PFA and SBT

Learning Objectives: Learning objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to (1) Identify three procedural modifications to the practical functional assessment (2) Understand how to implement the practical functional assessment and skill-based treatment model in a group setting (3) Know the pragmatic circumstances under which to use latency or rate as a measure of problem behavior
Adaptations of the Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis
RACHEL METRAS (Virginia Institute of Autism), Joshua Jessel (Queens College, City University of New York)
Abstract: The interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA; see Hanley et al., 2014, Jessel et al., 2019) is a functional analysis format that uses open-ended interviews with caregivers to inform the individualized, synthesized reinforcement contingencies assessed during the analysis. The IISCA is integral to the practical functional assessment process and often yields differentiated data in 25 min (Coffey et al., 2020). This analytic efficiency may help clinicians implement functional analyses within a brief window of time with a client, but it does not necessarily alleviate other practical concerns like the staffing, space, or material requirements necessary to conduct a functional analysis (e.g., Oliver et al., 2015). To help address these concerns, researchers have recently begun modifying the IISCA’s procedures to further evaluate its utility and feasibility across different clinical settings. Some of these modifications have resulted in the creation of new IISCA formats that may offer improvements in efficiency, safety, and ecological relevance. This review will discuss the defining features of several novel IISCA formats, as well as the conditions under which each might be useful in clinical practice.
The Latency-Based Interview-Informed, Synthesized Contingency Analysis: A Reanalysis and Replication of 20 Outpatient and School Applications
MONICA HOWARD (The ELIJA School), Joshua Jessel (Queens College, City University of New York), Jessica Slaton (Nashoba Learning Group), Kate Raftery (Nashoba Learning Group), Jesse Perrin (Pathways)
Abstract: Using latency as a measure of response strength during a functional analysis can improve efficiency and safety of the process by reducing overall exposure to problem behavior. We conducted this two-part study to determine if latency could be integrated into the recently developed functional analysis format termed the interview-informed, synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA). The IISCA was originally designed to measure rate of problem behavior. In Study 1, the results of 11 IISCAs, using rate as a measure of problem behavior, were reanalyzed to evaluate correspondence with the latency to the first instance in each session. Both measurement variations (rate and latency) of the IISCA were likely to produce strong levels of control over problem behavior and these outcomes were verified in the collection of nine latency-based IISCAs in Study 2. Clinicians may be able to avoid repeated instances of problem behavior during a functional analysis using the latency-based IISCA when safety or time is of concern.

Evaluating a Performance-Based Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis (IISCA) in a Classroom Setting

HOLLY GOVER (Vanderbilt University Medical Center), Ravelle Clements (Ivymount School), Allyson Crowley (Ivymount School), Bridget Wolfgang (Ivymount School), Jennifer Pratt (Ivymount School)

Theinterview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA) is a functional analysis methodology that has proven to be an efficient and reliable method for designing and implementing function based treatments. Metras and Jessel (2021) summarized the various methodological iterations of the IISCA since its introduction by Hanley and colleagues in 2014. In the discussion,Metras and Jesselsuggested an adaptation for future research that they called the performance-based IISCA.This adaptation is similar to the single-session IISCAwith three modifications: (a) time requirements removed from reinforcement intervals and instead are based on the behavior of the individual, (b)behavior is recorded as count instead of rate, and (c) indices of happinessare recorded during reinforcement intervals.We discuss the utility and feasibility of this adaptation with children who engaged in challenging behavior in a classroom setting, as well as how this adaptation may promote safety through increased functional control. The performance-based IISCA successfully identified the function of problem behavior and informed an effective treatment for our participants.


CANCELLED: Group Implementation of Practical Functional Assessment and Skill-Based Treatment

Robin Landa (May Institute), Amy Kate Rosenblum (May Institute)

The practical functional assessment (PFA) and skill-based treatment (SBT) process described by Hanley et al. (2014) often results in substantial, socially validated improvements in severe problem behavior (Jessel et al., 2018), but published outcomes tend to reflect participant performance during scheduled, 1:1 sessions. Barriers such as low staffing ratios or staffing shortages can unfortunately impede the provision of intensive intervention in many educational settings. Furthermore, behavior analysts providing clinical care for students with high-risk behavior are often responsible for developing and overseeing strategies that minimize risk throughout the day (i.e., both within and outside of scheduled sessions). We evaluated the PFA + SBT process within in a group format for a classroom of six adolescents with autism who engaged in high-risk problem behavior. PFA results informed strategies for safely managing severe behavior both within and outside of scheduled sessions. Treatment reduced problem behavior and increased adaptive skills for all participants. Treatment was also associated with a monthly reduction in the number of emergency safety procedures (e.g., restraint, seclusion) and injuries within the classroom. Supplemental 1:1 intervention was needed only briefly, for two participants. Considerations for overcoming challenges to safely assessing and treating severe behavior in educational settings will be discussed.




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