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 #37
CE Offered: BACB
Special Issues Related to the Treatment of Problem Behavior: Challenging Topographies and Antecedents
Saturday, May 23, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
214D (CC)
Area: DDA/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Joanna Lomas Mevers, Ph.D.

Behavioral interventions have proven to be an effective method for treatment of problem behavior particularly when intervention is preceded by a functional analysis (Heyvaert, Saenen, Campbell, Maes, & Onghena, 2014). Despite the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in this domain some topographies (e.g., pica and elopement) and functions (e.g., escape from noise) have received less attention and therefore more research is needed in these areas. The current symposium will present data assessment and treatment data. Assessment data will evaluate the utility of differentiating bolting from wandering when conducting functional analysis of elopement. Treatment data will focus on the use of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (e.g., throwing the pica item away or handing the item to a therapist) with schedule thinning to effectively reduce pica. In addition treatment data will be presented on antecedent manipulations (e.g., noncontingent reinforcement) used in conjunction with timeout, without the use of extinction, for the treatment of problem behavior maintained by escape from noise. Data will be discussed in terms of the clinical utility of these assessment and treatment procedures as well as implications for future research.

Keyword(s): elopement, negative reinforcment, pica, problem behavior

Using a Differential-Reinforcement Procedure to Treat Pica

ELIZABETH KLINEPETER (University of Florida), Lindsay Mehrkam (University of Florida), Sarah K. Slocum (University of Florida), Kerri P. Peters (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often present with problematic behavior in the form of pica, or ingesting nonedible items. However, research on the treatment of pica to date is limited. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a differential reinforcement of alternative (DRA) behavior treatment of pica for two individuals with ASD using a multiple-baseline across subjects with an embedded reversal design. The two subjects were taught an appropriate response to replace pica (e.g., throw the pica item away or hand the item to a therapist) through a least-to-most prompting sequence. A marked decrease in the rate of pica and an increase in the level of the appropriate response occurred during the treatment phases for both subjects. Furthermore, this effect maintained with increased response effort for one subject (see Figure 1) and a thinned schedule of reinforcement for the other (see Figure 2). This treatment serves as an example of an acceptable treatment that can be implemented to reduce the potentially life-threatening behavior of pica while teaching an appropriate, alternative response.

Reduction of Aggressive Behavior Evoked by Sounds Using Noncontingent Reinforcement and Time-Out
DANIELLE DUPUIS (University of Houston – Clear Lake), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Loukia Tsami (University of Houston – Clear Lake), Molly Shireman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Abstract: Some individuals with developmental disabilities engage in problem behavior to escape or avoid auditory stimuli (Iwata et al., 1994; McCord, Iwata, Galensky, Ellingson, & Thomson, 2001). In this study, a 6-year-old boy with autism and Fragile X syndrome engaged in severe aggression in the presence of specific sounds (e.g., specific nursery rhymes, adults talking to one another). An assessment based on the procedures described by McCord et al. was conducted to determine which sounds evoked aggression across varying decibel (dB) levels. Results indicated that certain sounds were more likely to evoke aggression, even at the lowest dB level (30 dB). We then extended prior research by evaluating a treatment consisting of noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) and time-out from positive reinforcement in the absence of extinction. The evaluation was conducted using a combined reversal and multiple baseline design across different sounds. Treatment was highly effective in reducing aggression across multiple sounds and novel therapists, even when the NCR schedule was thinned.
Differential Approaches to the Treatment of Elopement Based on Topography: Bolting vs. Wandering
JESSICA ALVAREZ (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Ally Coleman (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Elopement is typically defined as any instance in which an individual leaves a caregiver or designated area without permission (Bodfish, 1992), and has contributed to making accidents one of the leading causes of premature death for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (Shavelle, Strauss, & Pickett, 2001). However, at least two topographies of elopement are prevalent in this population: bolting and wandering. Bolting occurs when an individual runs from supervision, whereas wandering occurs when an individual strays from supervision. A functional analysis of elopement as described by Piazza et al. (1997) utilizes a two-room design in which an individual can elope from one room to the other. In order to assess the function of bolting in isolation, wandering was blocked and placed on extinction. Preliminary data show that FAs of elopement can produce different results for wandering compared to bolting. These results suggest that when conducting FAs of elopement, it may be important to assess for both bolting and wandering to identify an effective function-based treatment. Implications of assessment and treatment of wandering and bolting are discussed.



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