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 #298
CE Offered: BACB
Modifications and Adaptions to Functional Analysis Procedures: Evaluation of Safety, Validity, and Procedural Fidelity
Monday, May 29, 2023
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 4E/F
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amanda Zangrillo (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
CE Instructor: Amanda Zangrillo, Psy.D.

The development of the functional analysis represents a landmark event in the history of our field with the method developed by Iwata and colleagues being the most widely used, researched, and cited form of functional analysis to date. While there is an abundant literature concerning the utility of the functional analysis, many procedural modifications are documented in the literature to address barriers, concerns, and criticisms. In this symposium authors provide examples of modifications to the multi-element functional analysis to address patient-specific concerns related to safety risk and feasibility of implementation. DeBrine and colleagues evaluated the degree to which the number of collected observation in trial-based precursor analysis impacted accuracy of precursor response identification and validity of functional analysis results. Morris et al., explored opening the contingency class to include appropriate behavior, such as mands, within the functional analysis. The author will discuss relevant impact on validity and safety of this modification during implementation. Last, Ramos et al. assessed the implementation of functional analysis with caregiver implementers. Specifically, they conducted behavioral skills training and an in-depth error analysis to evaluate feasibility and practicality for the use of caregivers as implementors in the use synthesized functional analysis in assessment.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): fidelity, functional analysis, safety, validity
Target Audience:

Practitioners interested in or participating in treating severer destructive behavior.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) construct and review strategies for efficiently identifying precursor behaviors for inclusion in functional analysis; (2) weigh the need and impact of including condition relevant mands into the functional analysis evaluation; (3)strategies for implementing BST with caregivers, assessing caregiver fidelity, and optimizing validity and safety in caregiver-implemented functional analysis.
Further Evaluation of Trial-Based Precursor Identification Methods
JORDAN DEBRINE (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Seth Walker (Trumpet Behavioral Health), Amanda Zangrillo (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: The precursor functional analysis is used to decrease the occurrence of severe challenging behavior throughout functional assessment. Several researchers have developed empirically based strategies to identify precursors responses. Although empirically based precursor identification strategies are considered more valid than those derived from indirect interviews, little is known about the validity of these methods. Additionally, these methods require behavior analysts to observe several instances of the challenging behavior prior to selecting reliable precursor responses. In this study we evaluated the degree to which the trial-based precursor analysis could be shortened and still accurately identify precursor responses. We then evaluated response class membership of precursor and challenging behavior. We found trial-based precursor analysis could have been shortened for both participants. Last, we found the trial-based precursor assessment identified two false positive precursor responses for one participant. We discuss the implications of these findings and possible future directions of precursor functional analysis research.
Reinforcing Condition-Specific Mands and Challenging Behavior Simultaneously During a Functional Analysis
AMANDA MAE MORRIS (University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute ), Tara A. Fahmie (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Brinea Charles (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Functional analyses are one of the most effective ways to assess challenging behavior. However, clinicians may avoid their use due to the risk of evoking high levels of challenging behavior. Recent research has suggested that programming reinforcement in an open contingency class (i.e., both mild and severe challenging behavior) is one way to mitigate safety risks. One strategy for further mitigation of safety risk may be opening the contingency class to include appropriate behavior, such as mands. Past research on reinforcing mands in an FA have shown mixed outcomes, and this strategy has not been generally endorsed. However, past research has conducted the assessment of mands using closed contingency classes (reinforcing only mands or only challenging behavior), which may have been to the detriment of clear functional outcomes. In the current evaluation, we reinforced condition-specific mands and challenging behavior simultaneously in an FA. Results will be discussed relevant to the validity and safety of opening contingency classes to include mands. Based on our preliminary outcomes, we will also discuss strategies to improve the clarity of analyses with open contingency classes.
Assessing Parent Accuracy and Procedural Errors on Implementing a Synthesized Functional Analysis
YENI RAMOS (Southern Illinois University of Carbondale), Lesley A. Shawler (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Parental involvement is significant to the success of developing socially relevant assessments and treatments. In some cases, parents are actually trained to implement the procedures with their children. Thus, parents must participate in a well-established training procedure to reduce the number of errors committed, shape high levels of procedural fidelity, and minimize safety risk to the child and patient. Procedures should be implemented with the highest procedural fidelity possible to ensure the best results (Leon et al. 2018). Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is one method to teach caregivers, who have little to no behavioral experience, how to produce desired results with high procedural fidelity (Miles et al., 2009). The purpose of this study was to teach three parents whose children exhibited challenging behaviors, ranging from tantrums to self-injurious behavior, how to implement the different components of a synthesized functional analysis using BST. Results showed that two parents learned to implement the FA in a few visits and maintained high procedural fidelity when implementing the procedures with their children. One parent needed booster training due to poor procedural fidelity following BST. For all caregivers, we analyzed the specific errors that caregivers most likely made, with implications for treatment development.



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