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 #332
CE Offered: BACB
Using Behavior Analysis to Address Critical Issues Facing Adolescents and Adults With Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 29, 2023
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Emily Gregori (University of Illinois at Chicago)
CE Instructor: Emily Gregori, Ph.D.

Despite staggering decreases in service availability, individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) experience service needs related to communication, social skills, and health and safety in adolescence and adulthood. Unfortunately, little research has examined how to address these skills as individuals with DD age. This symposium will summarize current research on interventions to teach friendship skills, comprehensive sexuality and relationship education, and abduction prevention skills to adolescents and adults with DD. Study one will summarize research on interventions to teach friendship skills to adolescents and adults with autism in school and community-based settings. Study two will present the results of comprehensive sexuality education on sexuality and relationship knowledge of adults with DD in an inclusive higher education program. Study three will describe research-supported practices for teaching abduction prevention skills across the lifespan, with special considerations for adolescents and adults. Each presentation will (a) describe major study findings, (b) discuss implications for future research, and (c) provide recommendations for practicing behavior analysts who support the adolescent and adult populations.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Adolescence, Adulthood, Intervention
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the end of the presentations, participants will be able to: 1. List and describe behavior-analytic interventions to teach critical social, health, and safety skills to adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities 2. Describe gaps in current research on critical issues facing adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities 3. Describe methods for involving adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities in treatment selection and development
Autism and Friendship: A Systematic Review of Interventions in Single Case Design
SARAH DEANGELO (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Abstract: Individuals with autism often experience difficulties making and keeping friends. This may be due, in part, to difficulties with specific social and communication skills, which contribute to the development of friendships. This systematic review utilized the ERIC database on both EBSCOHost and ProQuest, as well as the Psych Info database for intervention studies targeting social skills for autistic adolescents and young adults. All included studies utilize single-case experimental design, include only autistic participants between the ages of 11-16, and explicitly target social and communication skills relating to friendship development. Findings focus on the participant demographics, intervention targets, intervention components, and social validity of included studies. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
Teaching Sexuality and Relationship in Inclusive Higher Education
CHRISTINE M DREW (Auburn University)
Abstract: Inclusive higher education (IHE) programs support adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities’ participation in higher education (HEOA, 2008). Students in IHEs have limited knowledge of sexuality, relationships, and social skills, which can be addressed through comprehensive sexuality and relationship education. We evaluated the effectiveness of the Positive Choices© curriculum for 7 students attending an IHE in the southeastern United States using pre-post one sample t-test analyses of student scores on five instructor-created assessments. Students attended 15 weekly classes taught by two graduate assistants and a faculty supervisor. All students showed statistically significant increases in knowledge for each unit and overall.
Systematic Review of Interventions to Prevent Abduction
Christine M Drew (Auburn University), SARAH GRACE HANSEN (30306)
Abstract: Abduction is a rare but concerning risk for all children, but may be of specific concern for people with disabilities due to social skill and communication deficits, particularly as they age. Behavior analytic interventions can be used to address skill deficits that may leave individuals with disabilities vulnerable. A systematic review found fifteen articles were found and summarized. Current interventions assessed in this research included: behavior skills training, in-situ training, video modeling, and social stories, which were used both alone and in combination. Lures were presented mostly by unknown strangers with some studies including responding to uniformed police officers and known individuals. Generalization and maintenance data were included in the majority of studies, and many studies assessed social validity. Limitations of the current research are discussed, and future research recommendations are presented specific to adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities.



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