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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #141
CE Offered: BACB
Characterizing and Improving Physical Activity Behaviors of Individuals with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 24, 2015
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
214B (CC)
Area: DDA/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Ledford (Vanderbilt University)
Discussant: Justin Lane (University of Kentucky)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Ledford, Ph.D.
Abstract: Individuals with disabilities are at risk for engaging in fewer appropriate leisure activities and less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than individuals without disabilities, beginning in early childhood and persisting through adulthood. These tendencies can result in long-term health and social difficulties. The focus of this symposium is on the description of typical physical activity and engagement behaviors for individuals with developmental disabilities and the use of behavioral interventions to improve these behaviors, with a focus on behaviors and interventions that are socially valid. Participants were young children or adolescents with autism or Down syndrome and implementers included graduate students and classroom teachers, all of who were BCBAs or were seeking certification as behavior analysts. Results suggest that several commonly-used interventions (structured activities, provision of choice, video modeling, prompting) can be modified for use in playground settings. Implications will be presented for individual studies, and the discussant will examine overarching implications for researchers and practicing behavior analysts.
Keyword(s): basketball, engagement, physical activity, playground
Employing Behavior Analytic Procedures to Teach an Adolescent with Autism to Play Basketball
BAILEY COPELAND (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Erica Karp (Vanderbilt University), Crystal Finley (Vanderbilt University), Nealetta Houchins-Juarez (Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Behavior Analysis Consulting Services), Jennifer Ledford (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Although teaching skills that address individual deficits in isolation may be clinically valid, time and resource constraints commonly contacted by behavior analysts call for ingenuity when programming therapy that optimizes reinforcement in a client’s life. Thus, when possible, behavior analysts should prioritize teaching skills that have the potential to address multiple deficits simultaneously. Many times, individuals with autism have difficulty interacting socially. These individuals are also likely to live sedentary lifestyles and to participate in few, if any, socially valid recreational activities. Despite the fact that a functional basketball-playing repertoire is valued in our society and has the potential to ameliorate each of the above-mentioned deficits, no research has outlined a behavior-analytic strategy for teaching this sport. In our investigation, we taught a 13-year-old male diagnosed with autism how to play basketball. During Phase 1, we employed discrete-trial training to establish proficiency with nine fundamental basketball skills (i.e., recruiting attention, conditional discriminations when passing a ball, dribbling, shooting, etc.). During Phase 2 we used a forward chaining procedure to establish specific sequences of these component skills that are appropriate for playing offense and defense, and for participating in a full-court basketball drill. Results, limitations, and future directions are discussed.
Using Teacher Implemented Playground Interventions to Increase Engagement, Social Behaviors, and Physical Activity for Young Children with Autism
COLLIN SHEPLEY (Oconee County Schools), Justin Lane (University of Kentucky), Sarah Kroll (University of Georgia), Jennifer Ledford (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Children with disabilities are at risk for engaging in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) when compared with typically developing children. Increased MVPA in typical contexts for less-active children with ASD may be a socially valid outcome resulting in improved physical health and increased opportunities for social interactions. In this study, a classroom teacher implemented two interventions in the context of an alternating treatments design. Physical activity, engagement, and social behaviors were monitored for two young children with autism spectrum disorders. Engagement and social behaviors increased during a structured choice (SC) intervention condition. MVPA was variable within and across conditions, but appropriate physical activity (e.g., physical activity that was associated with engagement) was highest during the SC condition. Results suggest teacher-mediated activities have moderate effects on MVPA and substantial effects on engagement and interactions.
Differences in Engagement, Physical Activity, and Teacher Play for Young Children with and without Autism
Jennifer Ledford (Vanderbilt University), KATHLEEN ZIMMERMAN (Vanderbilt Univeresity)
Abstract: Little is known about the physical activity behaviors of young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), although some research indicates that older children with ASD engage in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity when compared to children without ASD. In preschool, playground activities are often much less structured than other times of the day, which may increase the likelihood of unengaged behaviors and stereotypy for children with ASD. The purpose of this study was to describe the occurrence of and contingencies between engagement, physical activity, and teacher play for 3-5 year olds with and without ASD. Data collection is ongoing, but early data suggest children with ASD spend less time in proximity to peers and less time engaged in appropriate and active behaviors. Teacher behaviors were variable across children. Results suggest playgrounds might be a reasonable settings for service delivery for children with ASD; teacher behaviors potentially associated with increased engagement and MVPA will be discussed.
Increasing Physical Activity for Children with Down Syndrome during Typical Recess Activities
JENNY WU (May Institute), Erin E. Barton (Vanderbilt University), Jennifer Ledford (Vanderbilt University), Mark Wolery (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Individuals with Down syndrome have increased risk for low physical activity and related problems (e.g., overweight status, asthma, high blood pressure). Few behavioral interventions have been assessed for increasing activity for young children; none have focused on children with Down syndrome. In this study, two graduate students implemented a video modeling intervention to increase physical activity for young children with Down syndrome. Results, evaluated in the context of an A-B-A-B design, suggest increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity across all three participating children. Implications will be discussed, including those related to the use of mobile devices in non-classroom settings and the need for further research to increase appropriate behaviors on the playground for children who cannot imitate video models.



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