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 #65
CE Offered: BACB
Partnering with Caregivers and School Personnel to Reduce Challenging Behavior & Improve Communication
Saturday, May 27, 2023
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tonya Nichole Davis (Baylor University)
Discussant: David M. Richman (Texas Tech University)
CE Instructor: David M. Richman, Ph.D.

Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities spend most of their day with parents, caregivers, and/or school personnel. In order to have a meaningful impact, behavior analysts must successfully collaborate with natural change agents such as parents and educators in developing and implementing interventions to reduce challenging behavior and increase communication in home and school settings. Therefore, behavior analysts need to develop skills to collaboratively design interventions well-suited for the natural environment as well as teach and coach natural change agents to implement the intervention. This symposium will highlight four studies in which interventions to reduce challenging behavior and/or improve communication that were designed to be implemented in homes and schools by parents and school personnel. These studies sought to evaluate (a) a comparison of two function-based interventions implemented by school personnel in an inclusive classroom, (b) telehealth coaching to support a father’s implementation of enhanced milieu teaching, (c) an FCT intervention modified to meet the needs of the father implementing the intervention, and (d) a participatory action research collaboration with an elementary school to improve class-wide function related intervention teams.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): challenging behavior, coaching, educator-mediated intervention, parent-mediated intervention
Target Audience:

Audience members should have the following prerequisite skills and competencies: 1. Common functions of challenging behavior. 2. Functional communication training 3. Differential reinforcement 4. Noncontingent reinforcement 5. Enhanced milieu teaching

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the benefits of collaborating with caregivers and school professionals to reduce challenging behavior,; (2) summarize methods for teaching and coaching caregivers and school professionals interventions; (3) describe potential barriers to implementing interventions in natural settings as well as ways to overcome those barriers.

A Comparison of Non-Contingent Reinforcement (NCR) and Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA) With Students With Severe Disabilities in Inclusive School

LAUREN WRIGHT HILLS (The University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin), Linda Wright (Utah Tech University)

Decades of research have highlighted the benefits of inclusive education to students with disabilities. Per special education law, students with disabilities have the right to be educated with their peers without disabilities. However, there are multiple barriers to creating successful inclusive experiences for all students. Specifically, teachers have noted problem behavior as a key reason for segregating students into more restrictive environments. Training teachers and other school personnel to implement function-based interventions for students with disabilities can help overcome this barrier to inclusion. This presentation shares findings from a study comparing the effects of noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) and differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior (DRA) in inclusive school settings with students with severe disabilities using an alternating treatments design. Three elementary-aged students with severe disabilities participated in the study. School personnel were trained using behavior skills training (BST) to implement each intervention. Data were gathered on (a) occurrences of problem behavior; (b) on-task behavior; (c) treatment fidelity; and (d) social validity (school personnel and participant). Results provided insight into the potential differences in effectiveness and social validity across the two interventions in inclusive school settings with students with severe disabilities.


Father-Mediated Communication Intervention for a Young Child With Autism

ERIC SHANNON (Purdue University), Mandy J. Rispoli (University of Virginia), Mehreen Zehra Hassan (Purdue University)

Naturalistic communication interventions embedded into play routines have been effectively taught to parents of young children with autism. Enhanced Milieu Teaching (EMT) strategies can be taught during naturally occurring play routines within the home, with a focus on parents arranging the environment, following their child’s lead, and imitating and modeling language use. However, most parent-mediated interventions have focused on mothers as intervention agents, although fathers may be just as effective. The present study was specifically designed to meet the needs of fathers, including: short, flexible, weekly telehealth coaching sessions outside of typical working hours in which the child did not need to be present; targeting natural father-child play routines; and initial training on autism and the principles of behavior analysis. One father-son dyad was recruited to participate. Father implementation of EMT strategies and child expressive communication were evaluated using a multiple baseline across behaviors design. Results indicate that the father was able to increase his use of EMT strategies, which resulted in an increase in child manding. Future implications of naturalistic communication interventions targeting fathers of children with autism are discussed.


Functional Communication Training Without the Removal of a Tangible in Discrete Trial Training

EMILY PAIGE EXLINE (Baylor University), David William Cosottile (University of Oregon), Jessica Akers (Baylor University), Stephanie Gerow (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), Remington Michael Swensson (Baylor University)

Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) engage in challenging behaviors. A common intervention for challenging behavior is functional communication training (FCT). FCT teaches the individual a different response to access the reinforcer of the challenging behavior. Common functions of challenging behavior are access to attention, access to tangibles, and escape from demands. There are situations where the challenging behavior is so severe that challenging behavior persists even when there is a 0-second delay to emit the targeted communication response. We had one participant, named Mostafa. Mostafa was a 4-year-old white male, who engaged in tangibly maintained challenging behavior. Mostafa engaged in high levels of challenging behavior even with a 0-second delay. We modified FCT procedures to abolish the motivation to engage in challenging behavior. The modified FCT procedures involved Mostafa requesting for a piece of a toy, so the entire toy did not have to be removed. Once we modified FCT procedures, Mostafa’s communication increased, and challenging behavior decreased. We will discuss the implications this case has for clinical practice.


Pyramidal Training to Improve General Education Teachers’ Class-Wide Behavior Management in a Public Elementary School

AMANDA M BOROSH (Purdue University), John Augustine (Purdue University), Charissa Donn Richards (Purdue University), Shannon Gardiner (Tippecanoe School Corporation), Stephanie Montoya (Tippecanoe School Corporation), Rose A. Mason (Purdue University), David Ray Gutierrez Miranda (Purdue University)

This session will describe a participatory action research (PAR) collaboration with an elementary school to improve the school’s implementation of Tier I class-wide behavior supports using a pyramidal training model. Researchers trained two school-based coaches – an instructional coach and a kindergarten teacher - to fidelity in Class-wide Function Related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) and Practice-Based Coaching. We used a multiple-baseline across classrooms design to evaluate the effects of school-based coach-delivered training and coaching on four general education teachers’ implementation fidelity of CW-FIT. Rate per minute of behavior-specific praise and reprimand statements were also measured. Distal student outcome data were collected on student whole-class on-task behavior. Results indicated a functional relation between pyramidal training and general education teachers’ implementation of CW-FIT and an increase in rates of behavior-specific praise; no change in reprimand statements was observed. Student whole-class on-task behavior also improved across all classrooms when teachers implemented CW-FIT to fidelity. Teachers found pyramidal training, coaching, and the use of CW-FIT in their classrooms to be acceptable and feasible. Benefits and challenges of using a pyramidal training model to support class-wide behavior interventions in schools will be discussed.




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