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

Previous Page


Symposium #207
CE Offered: BACB
Staff Training to Increase the Quality of Practitioner-Client Interactions
Sunday, May 24, 2015
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Grand Ballroom C2 (CC)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nicole Heal (Melmark New England)
Discussant: Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
CE Instructor: Nicole Heal, Ph.D.
Abstract: A main goal of staff training is to build the skills necessary to deliver services to clients in an effective and efficient manner. The presentations in this symposium each address important skills that should be included in a comprehensive staff training program. The purpose of the first study was to teach practitioners’ to conduct functional analyses and assess for generalization of those skills across and to latency and trial-based functional analyses. In the second presentation, the important but sometimes neglected aspect of building rapport between practitioners and clients was addressed by implementing a discrimination training procedure and subsequently assessing if social interactions would function as a condition reinforcer for novel responses. In the third presentation, an antecedent intervention of pairing social interactions with access to preferred toys and activities and gradually introducing the presentation of demands to decrease avoidance behaviors during discrete trial teaching (DTT) sessions was evaluated. The final study sought to evaluate the extent to which changes in client behavior (i.e., topography of challenging behavior) affected practitioners’ behavior (i.e., correct implementation of teaching trails, delivery of reinforcement, and preference) during simulated DTT sessions in which a confederate served as a client.
Keyword(s): Conditioned reinforcement, Functional analysis, Rapport, Staff training
Evaluating the Generalization of Practitioners’ Skills to Conduct Functional Analyses
NICOLE M. HANNEY (Auburn University), Sacha T. Pence (Auburn University)
Abstract: The skills necessary to conduct functional analyses are vital for individuals practicing behavior analysis. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate practitioners’ generalization of skills across conditions and to latency and trial-based functional analyses. During Experiment 1, generalization was probed following acquisition of one condition on performance in untrained traditional functional analysis conditions. Generalization of skills to mastery levels was not observed in any condition. However, practitioners conducted the no interaction condition without direct training. During Experiment 2, generalization of skills to latency and trial-based functional analysis was assessed following acquisition of the traditional functional analysis. All eight participants improved in one or more conditions. Three participants performed at mastery levels in one or more latency conditions. One participant performed the trial-based attention condition at mastery during generalization probes. During Experiment 3, participants were trained to implement one condition (e.g., attention) of latency and trial-based functional analyses and generalization to other conditions was assessed. Some generalization was observed for latency and trial-based functional analyses. However, all participants required training on at least one additional condition. Results suggest that practitioners require training across functional analysis conditions and types of functional analyses to perform these assessments with high integrity.

The Measurement and Enhancement of Rapport between Behavioral Therapists and Children with Autism

KAREN A. TOUSSAINT (University of North Texas), Carly Lapin (University of North Texas graduate studies in behavior analysis)

Rapport has been acknowledged as an important variable in therapeutic contexts. The current evaluation defined and assessed rapport quality between children with autism and behavioral therapists based on behavioral correlates. In addition, we evaluated the effects of an operant discrimination training procedure to enhance rapport levels for therapists with low levels of rapport. More specifically, we evaluated: (a) if the discrimination training procedure would establish therapists' social interactions as a discriminative stimulus and (b) if social interaction would function as a conditioned reinforcer for novel responses. Results suggest that the discrimination training procedure was successful in conditioning social interaction as a reinforcer for all child participants, and as a result, rapport increased.

Examining Antecedent Strategies to Decrease Social Avoidance Behaviors in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders during Discrete Trial Training
BETHANY HANSEN (Marcus Autism Center), Alice Alice Shillingsburg (Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine)
Abstract: Presenting instructions during Discrete Trial Training (DTT) may evoke problem behavior (e.g., aggression, disruptions) or social avoidance (e.g., elopement) in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Given the effectiveness of using DTT as a component of intervention for developing language skills (McEachin, Smith, & Lovaas, 1993; Roxburgh & Carbone, 2012; Smith, 1999; Smith, 2001; Tarbox & Najdoski, 2008), evaluation of procedures to increase social responsiveness and approach during DTT is warranted. By including child-preferred activities in the teaching environment and focusing on the interactions between the therapist and child, avoidance behaviors to social interactions with the therapist and to the presentation of instructions during teaching can be reduced (Finnigan & Starr, 2010; Shillingsburg, Bowen, & Shapiro, 2014). In the present study, the effect of antecedent strategies during DTT was examined. These strategies consisted of the therapist pairing social interaction with access to preferred toys and activities and gradually introducing the presentation of demands. Three participants with a diagnosis of autism and with elevated levels of avoidance behaviors (e.g., crying, aggression, elopement) during DTT were included. Following the pairing intervention, all participants showed a decrease in avoidance behaviors.
Bidirectional Effects of Staff and Student Interactions
TANYA MOUZAKES (Melmark New England), Jill Marie Harper (Melmark New Englnad)
Abstract: Staff interactions with their students can be very important in several different aspects. If staff members do not know how to interact with students, this could potentially lead to challenging behaviors. These interactions may also change based on whether or not there is an increase or decrease in challenging behaviors. The purpose of this study is to examine whether staff behavior is affected by changes in student behavior. In other words, do positive interactions (e.g., praise) increase as challenging behaviors decrease? An additional purpose of this study is to also examine whether negative interactions (e.g., not following the prompting hierarchy) increase as challenging behaviors increase. Newly hired staff members within the orientation period participated in this study. A concurrent chains procedure was used for staff selection of the two different conditions. Within the two conditions, confederate students engaged in aggression in one assessment room and self-injurious behavior (SIB) in the other. Data were also collected on procedural integrity, frequency of praise delivered by staff, and the frequency of problem behavior from the confederate student. The results from this study indicated that staff members allocated their choice of conditions to the assessment rooms associated with SIB.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh