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 #201
CE Offered: BACB
Generalization and Social Validity of Function-Based Treatments for Problem Behavior
Sunday, May 24, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
214A (CC)
Area: PRA/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University)
Discussant: Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
CE Instructor: Mindy Christine Scheithauer, Ph.D.
Abstract: Functional assessments, followed by function-based treatments, are best practice for the treatment of problem behavior. These treatments are often developed, and initially evaluated, in analog settings. An advantage of analog settings is they allow for maximal control of the environment. However, they may not serve as an adequate representation of the client’s natural environment. For treatments developed in controlled analog settings to achieve social validity (i.e., create significant improvement in the client’s and his/her family’s quality of life), treatment must continue to result in reductions in problem behavior when generalized outside of the clinic to more naturalistic settings. These talks focus on generalization of treatments for problem behavior that were originally developed in clinic-based settings. Specifically, programming for generalization during treatment development of a common function-based treatment (functional communication treatment incorporated into a multiple schedule) and incorporation of a brief assessment method to test for generalization outside of a controlled setting and with caregivers are discussed. These studies emphasize the importance of considering generalization and social validity when treating problem behavior and suggest methods for addressing these issues in clinical practice.
Keyword(s): Function-Based Treatment, Generalization, Problem Behavior, Social Validity
Assessment of Social Validity of Function-Based Treatments for Severe Problem Behavior using Unit Probes
MINDY CHRISTINE SCHEITHAUER (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Ally Coleman (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah J. Miller (Louisiana State University), Jessica Alvarez (Marcus Autism Center), Kerri C. Suiter (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Functional analyses and the evaluation of function-based treatments are often done in an analog setting, such as a session room or treatment unit. Although this setting is optimal for controlling environmental variables and measuring behavior, there could be concern about the social validity and generalizability of treatments developed in these analog settings. The current study implemented a novel method for assessing the social validity of function-based treatments with clients with developmental delays admitted into a day-treatment program for the treatment of severe problem behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injury, disruption). Unit probes, which were designed to directly replicate the naturalistic contingencies observed in a previous home observation of caregiver/child interactions, were conducted at several points throughout the child’s admission. Data collected from these probes were compared to behavior observations made in a session room or other tightly controlled analog environment. Results from the unit probes are discussed in regards to the social validity of function-based interventions, the generalizability of treatment, and the implications of unit probes for future research and clinical work.
Assessing and Programming for Generalized Treatment Effects of FCT
ADAM M. BRIGGS (The University of Kansas), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Joseph D. Dracobly (The University of Kansas), Jessica Foster (The University of Kansas), Bertilde U Kamana (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is a commonly prescribed treatment for problem behavior (Tiger & Hanley, 2008). However, few studies have systematically evaluated generalization of FCT treatment effects (Falcomata & Wacker, 2013). Participants were those who engaged in problem behavior maintained by social reinforcement as shown via a functional analysis. FCT was implemented and thinned using a multiple schedule in a treatment setting, and generalization probes in which the terminal treatment schedule was implemented in the absence of extinction were conducted to determine at which point (if at all) the treatment effects generalized to the everyday environment. If treatment effects failed to generalize, an additional analysis was conducted to determine whether introducing different stimulus features (therapists, materials, schedule-correlated stimuli) from the everyday environment into the treatment setting or vice versa would produce generalization. Thus far, for two participants, treatment effects have not generalized as FCT is thinned to the terminal schedule. Furthermore, initial results suggest that programming for common therapists does not result in generalization. If generalization does not occur with introducing additional common stimulus features, our effective treatment (including extinction) will be implemented in the everyday environment. Overall results will let us know the most efficient and effective way to promote maintenance and generalization of FCT effects.



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