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 #335
CE Offered: BACB
Tackling Practicality Issues in the Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
217C (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Yaniz C. Padilla Dalmau (Virginia Institute of Autism)
CE Instructor: Jonathan Dean Schmidt, Ph.D.
Abstract: This symposium presents results from 3 studies addressing the application of applied behavior analysis for practicality issues that are often barriers to the assessment and treatment of problem behavior. The first study, “A Comparison of Methods for Thinning Schedules of Reinforcement in a Demand Context,” compares two schedule thinning methods for individuals who have escape maintained problem behavior. Emphasis is on determining which method shows the greatest utility for maintaining low rates of problem behavior, while being sustainable in everyday settings. The second study, “Teaching Children with Autism and Language Delays to Reject Non-preferred Food Items Using Multiple Communication Forms,” evaluates what effects teaching multiple functional communication responses has on preventing the resurgence of inappropriate communication. Of importance, results will also show how well these communication forms generalized across people. The third study, “Convergent Validity of the Questions about Behavioral Function Scale and Functional Analyses,” is a 10-year, retrospective analysis of 274 participants who received services for severe problem behavior in an outpatient hospital clinic. Analyses focus on how sensitive results from an indirect measure, the Questions about Behavioral Function scale, are with experimental functional analyses, across mediating factors such as function, topography of behaviors, and age.
Keyword(s): autism, problem behavior, reinforcement
A Comparison of Methods for Thinning Schedules of Reinforcement in a Demand Context
MOLLY BEDNAR (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Dense schedules of alternative reinforcement for compliance paired with extinction for problem behavior are often used in behavior interventions for children with developmental disabilities, but may not be practical in all settings. The current study compared two methods for thinning reinforcement schedules in academic contexts for three participants whose results from a functional analysis indicated problem behavior was maintained by escape from demands. The first part of the study was to identify a hierarchy of high and low probability vocational and academic tasks for each participant. The second part of this study compared two methods for systematically thinning the schedule of reinforcement for compliance. In the dense-to-lean (DTL) condition, dense schedules of reinforcement were implemented at the start of treatment, followed by systematically thinning the reinforcement schedule across sessions. In the fixed lean (FL) condition, the use of a fixed schedule of reinforcement was implemented throughout treatment, which was the same as the terminal reinforcement schedule in the DTL condition. Results demonstrate that both methods of schedule thinning can result in reductions of escape-maintained target problem behaviors. However, for all participants, the terminal goal was attained more rapidly in the FL condition than in the DTL condition.
Teaching Children with Autism and Language Delays to Reject Non-preferred Foods Using Multiple Communication Forms
LAURA C. CHEZAN (Old Dominion University), Erik Drasgow (University of South Carolina), Christian Atlas Martin (Atlas Supports, LLC), James Halle (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Abstract: Our purpose in this study was extended the application of functional communication training (FCT) by teaching multiple alternative, socially appropriate communicative replacement responses to two young children with autism. First, we taught each child two new responses to replace their subtle communication forms (e.g., pushing away) that served a rejection function. Next, we taught children to alternate between the two new responses. Then, we assessed whether the new responses and their alternation would promote resilience and eliminate resurgence to previous undesirable communicative forms. Finally, we examined generalization of the new skills to novel social partners. Both children acquired the new responses and their alternation. One child used the newly acquired responses when access to reinforcement was not immediately available whereas the other child resorted to previous undesirable communicative forms. Both children used the new responses with novel social partners but only one child alternated between the two forms with the novel social partner.
Convergent Validity Between the Questions about Behavior Function Scale and Functional Analyses
JONATHAN DEAN SCHMIDT (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jill Fodstad (Indiana University School of Medicine), Amanda Goetzel (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Theodosia R. Paclawskyj (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: It is well established in the literature that the most effective method for determining the purpose of problem behavior is by conducting a functional analysis (FA). Although an FA may be the most valid method for identifying the variables maintaining problem behavior, it is not always feasible to conduct such an in-depth analysis for practical reasons such as available resources, time constraints, or staffing. Thus, it is often necessary to use indirect measures such as questionnaires to identify the function. We compared the results of the Questions About Behavioral Function (QABF) scale, collected over the span of 10 years, to the results of standard FAs for 274 participants with developmental disabilities who were referred to a hospital clinic for the treatment of severe problem behavior. For all participants, a QABF was completed for each specific topography of problem behavior that was subsequently targeted for assessment in the FA. Both statistical analysis and single-subject design methodology were implemented to evaluate the convergent validity of the results obtained from the QABF and the FA. More in-depth analyses focus on the implications of differences in the predictive validity of the QABF when factors such as specific functions, topography, and age are considered.



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