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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #309
Evaluations of Factors Related to the Efficiency and Acceptability of Functional Analysis Procedures
Sunday, May 28, 2017
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa)
Abstract: Functional analyses of problem behavior (FA) as described in Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982/1994), and variations thereof, are an essential step in developing effective treatments to reduce problem behavior. However, the time required to conduct an FA results in a delay to the onset of treatment, which can reduce the acceptability of including FA’s in the treatment process. Furthermore, when standard FA procedures do not result in a clear function of behavior, additional assessment is often needed. What is now needed, are methods to increase the efficiency of FA procedures in addressing behaviors or patterns of behavior missed with standard FA protocols. Three studies evaluating factors related to the efficiency of FA protocols will be presented. The first study evaluates the modification of FA test conditions to identify social functions maintaining problem behavior during transitions. The second presentation reviews factors to consider in addressing inconclusive FA results, including modifications to the FA design. The final presentation is an overview of the current findings from a randomized trial comparison of the efficiency and acceptability of standard FA procedures and Brief Assessments of Motivation for identifying effective functional communication training treatments for young children via telehealth.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Functional Analysis of Aberrant Behavior Related to Transitions
SETH B. CLARK (Marcus Autism Center), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center), Jamieson Ekstrom (The Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: It is commonly reported by caregivers that individuals with developmental disabilities find transitions to be aversive (Sainato, Strain, Lefebvre, & Rapp, 1987; Tustin, 1995). Functional analysis methodologies have shown to be useful when trying to assess the function of aberrant behavior occurring during transitions (McCord, Thomson, & Iwata, 2001; Wilder, Chen, Atwell, Pritchard, & Weinstein, 2006). The current investigation sought to replicate and expand the results of McCord et al. by evaluating the utility of their procedures to identify the maintaining variables of aggressive behavior related to transitions. Specifically, the procedures were modified to include fewer conditions, potentially being a more efficient means of identifying function. Participants were two individuals with developmental disabilities who engaged in severe problem behavior. For the purpose of this study, transitions were defined as any changes in activity or physical location. Within the assessment, multiple contexts were assessed to evaluate specific elements of the transition (e.g., escape from the physical movement of the transition, escape from a nonpreferred second location, access to a preferred first location). A clear function of aberrant behavior was observed for both participants. Assessment results were then incorporated into treatment, following which a decrease in problem behavior was observed.
Utility of the Test Control (Pairwise) Design for Clarifying Inconclusive Functional Analysis Outcomes
CRAIG STROHMEIER (Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Ashley Carver (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Recent research suggests that the pairwise functional analysis (FA) design (Iwata, Duncan, Zarcone, Lerman, and Shore, 1994) is effective as a modification to produce differentiated results, subsequent to an inconclusive initial multielement FA of severe problem behavior (Hagopian, Rooker, Jessel, and DeLeon, 2013). Currently, no specific recommendations exist to guide clinician’s decision-making for changing FA design, as opposed to changing antecedent or consequence variables to obtain differentiated FA results. To derive a more informed process for making FA design modifications, the current study utilized a consecutive case-series search strategy within a clinical database to identify FAs that included mutlielement and subsequent pairwise analyses. Participant FAs were included if all condition variables were held constant, and only the design was changed (i.e. mutlielement changed to pairwise). At least one function was identified in 77.8% (7/9) of cases after changing to a pairwise FA. Furthermore, across all conditions within the sample, the Demand condition was most likely to reveal differentiated results within the pairwise analysis. Between and within subject analyses will be discussed with recommendations for strategies to help determine whether design modifications and/or modifications of antecedent and consequence variables are more likely to produce differentiated results after inconclusive multielement FA results.
Year Two of a Randomized Control Trial of Functional Analysis Procedures Using Telehealth
MATTHEW O'BRIEN (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa), Scott D. Lindgren (The University of Iowa), Todd G. Kopelman (The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics), Linda J. Cooper-Brown (The University of Iowa), Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Beginning in 1992, a series of federally funded research projects at the University of Iowa have focused on training parents to conduct behavioral assessment and treatment procedures for young children with challenging behavior. In every study within this series, a combination of functional analysis (FA) and functional communication training (FCT) have been used effectively to reduce problem behavior by 90% or greater over baseline. To provide scientific validation of FA and FCT procedures, Wacker and colleagues initiated two large-N studies (Lindgren & Wacker, 2011-2015; Lindgren & Wacker, 2015-2019). In the most recently completed project, Wacker et al. (2011-2015) conducted the first randomized controlled trial of FCT for children with autism exhibiting problem behavior. This study, conducted solely via telehealth, showed FCT was superior to a delayed control, providing support for FCT as an evidence-based practice. The current project (Lindgren & Wacker, 2015) serves as the next step in the validation process. This project, now in its second year, is a multi-site study using telehealth to conduct a randomized controlled trial of FA procedures. Insights into telehealth as a research tool to evaluate behavior analytic assessments and treatments and preliminary analysis of the project results will be presented.



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