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 #95
CE Offered: BACB
Identifying Factors Predicting Autistic Roommates Compatibility From Literature, Experts, Adults on the Spectrum, and Caregivers
Saturday, May 27, 2023
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1A/B
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Laura E. Mullins (Brock University)
CE Instructor: Laura E. Mullins, Ph.D.

While multiple measures are used to inform and assess compatibility with supported living placements for adults on the autism spectrum with intellectual disabilities, no single measure has considered all the relevant factors. Therefore, Kerry’s Place Autism Services (KPAS) developed the Group Living Compatibility Assessment Tool (GCAT) to predict the potential compatibility of prospective housemates. The GCAT includes six domains consistent with a behavioural perspective using a bio-psycho-social approach to compatibility and challenging behaviour. The assessment aims to identify environmental modifications and skill development opportunities that could improve prospective housemates’ compatibility and transitions. In partnership with researchers from Brock University, this research aims to evaluate the psychometric properties of the GCAT. To establish the content validity of the GCAT, we conducted three projects: a scoping review of the current literature, a survey of experts in the field, and focus groups with self-advocates and family members. The results suggest that the areas included in the GCAT are consistent with the literature, resonant with our experts, self-advocates, and family groups, and are socially significant to persons on the autism spectrum while also suggesting potential areas to improve the GCAT. We will also review next steps for the research and insights for professional practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): "Adults", "Group Living"
Target Audience:

Must have a strong understanding of principles of applied behaviour analysis. Specifically the impact of the environment on behaviour, and the importance of creating socially significant treatment goals.

Learning Objectives: (1)Understand the development, and social significance, of the Group Living Compatibility Assessment Tool (GCAT) through evaluation of the rationale and historically documented challenges with housemate compatibility. (2)Integrate sources of evidence consistent with evidence-based practice (clinical judgment, the best available evidence, and client values and characteristics) (3)Learn the importance of consideration of multiple stakeholders in the development of assessments and in making supportive living placement decisions (4)Understand relevant factors that inform whether autistic roommates are likely to be compatible living with one another.

Exploring Factors Influencing Compatibility of Roommates on the Autism Spectrum: A Scoping Review

AMANDA MARIE BAILEY (Brock University), Laura E. Mullins (Brock University)

Many adults on the autism spectrum live in group-based settings. While the person should be central to the decision regarding placements, there are limited resources to aid in determining potential roommate compatibility. Challenging behaviours and placement breakdowns can often occur when social and environmental factors are not considered. This scoping review explores the current research on the factors that influence the compatibility of roommates on the autism spectrum. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses extension for Scoping Review (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines, 41 resources were reviewed to identify issues that influenced roommate compatibility and living arrangements. A deductive content analysis was used to identify areas within six subdomains: general house details, health needs, sensory, lifestyle, social interaction, and behavioural profile. Initial results suggest the highest supported subdomain was social interaction and the least represented subdomains include health needs and lifestyle. The literature also suggested additional subdomains to consider, including the importance of one’s culture and balancing the right to make choices while considering safety. This scoping review will be used to inform an assessment to guide the placement decisions of prospective housemates and improve the transition process.


Compatibility of Roommates on the Autism Spectrum: Consensus Among Expert Clinicians and Senior Leaders

EMILY WYKES (Kerry's Place Autism Services), Carmela Campanella-Borraccia (Kerry’s Place Autism Services), Amanda Marie Bailey (Brock University), Laura E. Mullins (Brock University), Jan Frijters (Brock University), Sue Vandevelde-Coke (Kerry's Place Autism Services)

Evidence-based practice calls for integrating clinical judgment, the best available evidence, and client values and characteristics in professional decision-making (Slocum et al., 2014). Since there is no standardized measure to assess compatibility between adults on the autism spectrum, experts often rely on their clinical and professional experiences. To capture these experiences, a virtual questionnaire was sent to experts in the developmental field, including Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBA) at a Master or Doctoral level, psychologists, researchers, and persons in senior leadership positions. Experts were asked to evaluate and provide feedback on the GCAT items, scoring, and administration and suggest additional areas of compatibility. A Content Validity Ratio (CVR; Lawshe, 1975) was conducted on all expert responses (n = 56) and compared across groups of experts (leadership vs. clinical groups; less or more than ten years of experience). Several items exceeded the Lawshe minimum values (Ayre & Scally, 2013) for experienced clinicians and leaders representing five of the six subdomains, including general house details, sensory profile, health and safety, social and behavioural profile. Interestingly, the leadership group agreed with each other the most and years of experience in the field also appeared to be a relevant factor in establishing consensus.

Exploring Factors Influencing Compatibility of Roommates on the Autism Spectrum: Perspectives of Self-Advocates and Families
CARMELA CAMPANELLA-BORRACCIA (Kerry’s Place Autism Services), Emily Wykes (Kerry's Place Autism Services), Laura E. Mullins (Brock University), Amanda Marie Bailey (Brock University), Jan Frijters (Brock University), Sue Vandevelde-Coke (Kerry's Place Autism Services)
Abstract: Adults should have a say in their homes and where they live (Autistic Self Advocacy Network, 2016). When the person cannot directly communicate their preferences, others may act as an informant in this decision-making process. Ideally, these individuals should know the person well, like their family members (Browning & Jones, 2002; McCoy et al., 2020). Self-advocates and families have the essential knowledge about a person’s daily life patterns, preferences, behaviours, and physical needs. These perspectives are valuable to collect. Therefore, the perspectives of 14 self-advocates and 17 family members of adults on the spectrum were obtained through virtual focus groups (7 per focus groups participant group). Participants were given the option to respond using the chat function or with their microphone to semi-structured questions about what is important about where autistic adults live and what they look for in a roommate. We also asked about the importance of each domain and subdomain. Examples, prompts, and alternative phrasing of subdomains were provided when necessary to increase accessibility and generate conversation. Preliminary deductive content analysis of the focus group transcripts suggested that each subdomain of the GCAT is essential to consider when transitioning adults on the spectrum into group living.



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