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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #436
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity in Research: Linguistic Variables in the Assessment and Treatment of Challenging Behavior, Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Participants, and Bilingual Learners With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 28, 2018
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom F
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Christine Drew (University of Oregon)
Discussant: Yaniz C. Padilla Dalmau (Seattle Children's Hospital)
CE Instructor: Yaniz C. Padilla Dalmau, Ph.D.

The population of the United States has been increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse for many years. In spite of this growing diversity, these groups are significantly underrepresented in the research literature for applied behavior analysis and special education. Practice guidelines have not been developed to address the needs of these populations, many of whom are served by behavior analysts. Previous research has found that language preference and language of intervention are some of the variables that need to be systematically addressed through research applications. This symposium will include the results of two intervention studies focusing on how linguistic differences affect intervention generalization (FCT), behavioral assessment (functional analysis), language preference, and skill acquisition. To aid researchers and practitioners working directly with these groups, a position paper reviewing bilingual literature and providing recommendations for practice for bilingual learners with ASD and a systematic literature review on the recruitment and retention of participants in research who are economically, linguistically, and culturally diverse are also included. Practice recommendations and areas of future research for these growing populations will be presented.

Keyword(s): bilingualism, challenging behavior, diverse participants, language preference
Target Audience:

Practitioners and researchers

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to list strategies for working with bilingual families. Participants will be able to list strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse participants in ASD research. Participants will be able to summarize the current research addressing linguistic preference in FA and FCT methodology and skill acquisition.

Impact of Language on Behavior Assessment and Intervention Outcomes

(Applied Research)
JESSICA EMILY GRABER (University of Texas at San Antonio), Leslie Neely (University of Texas at San Antonio), S. Shanun Kunnavatana (Independent Researcher in Durham, NC), Katherine Cantrell (University of Texas at San Antonio)

Resurgence of problem behavior following effective functional communication training (FCT) can occur if the functional communication response (FCR) contacts a barrier, such as lack of generalization across communication partners. One barrier to generalization may be language variations among communication partners. We evaluated the effect of language of implementation on functional analysis and functional communication training outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Linguistic diversity and choice of language may be particularly important to children with ASD as core communication deficits often contribute to engagement in problem behavior. Participants were three children with ASD who engaged in problem behavior and whose parents reported Spanish was primarily spoken in the home setting. Assessment conducted in both English and Spanish identified the behaviors were maintained by escape from demands in both languages. FCT was conducted in the English language and probes for generalization to the Spanish language were conducted. Results indicate that intervention may generalize naturally across languages as one participant code switched. However, two participants required specific instruction in both languages. Implications for practice and future research will be discussed.


Evaluation of Language Preference on Skill Acquisition

(Applied Research)
KATHERINE CANTRELL (University of Texas at San Antonio), Leslie Neely (University of Texas at San Antonio), S. Shanun Kunnavatana (Independent Researcher), Kyra Hastings (University of Texas at San Antonio)

Recent research has suggested language of instruction may have an effect of the behavior of children with autism spectrum disorder during instructional sessions. This study aims to add to the literature base by evaluating preference of instructional language as a potential variable that may account for differences in problem behavior and skill acquisition during instructional settings. There were three participants for this study. All of the children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. All of the participants came from a Spanish speaking family. In the first phase of the study, functional analysis were conducted in both English and Spanish. The results of functional analysis demonstrated the behavior was maintained by escape from demands. In the second phase of the study, a language preference assessment was conducted using a concurrent operant design embedded into an ABAB reversal. In the final phase, skill acquisition will be evaluated using novel responses in both English and Spanish with the schedule of reinforcement held constant.


Recruitment and Retention of Ethnically Diverse Participants in Autism Intervention Research

(Applied Research)
ALLAINA DOUGLAS (University of Oregon ), Christine Drew (University of Oregon), Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon), Rebecca Crowe (University of Oregon), Lindsay Glugatch (University of Oregon)

Special education intervention literature largely fails to report participant demographics; moreover, when race or ethnicity are reported, it reflects a homogeneous, majority culture (Artiles et al., 1997; Sinclair et al., in press; Vasquez et al., 2011). Researchers in special education and behavior analysis have called for an increase in diversity of participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders (DD) (Sinclair et al., in press), but few studies have empirically evaluated the relation between recruitment and retention strategies and increased diversity for these participants. A conceptual framework for increasing the inclusion of diverse participants in research involving parents and children with ASD and other DD will be presented. Findings are presented from a systematic literature review (i.e. electronic database searches, ancestral search) from studies published between 2011-2016 evaluating recruitment and retention strategies and papers offering conceptual frameworks to recruit and retain diverse participants in parent implemented interventions. Findings are discussed across the 41studies in relation to variables such as: (a) demographics, (b) recruitment and retention strategies, (d) attrition rate, (e) social validity, etc. A conceptual framework for increasing the inclusion of diverse participants in research involving parents and their children with ASD and other DD will be presented.


Understanding the Linguistic Needs of Diverse Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Some Comments on the Research Literature and Suggestions for Clinicians

(Applied Research)
WAN HAN NATALY LIM (University of Texas at Austin), Mark O'Reilly (University of Texas at Austin), Jeffrey S. Sigafoos (Victoria University of Wellington), Giulio Lancioni (University of Bari)

The practice of advising bilingual parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to speak in a single language, often the majority language of the region, with their child with ASD seems to be common. Such advice, however, is not grounded on empirical evidence but appears to be based more on logical arguments and assumptions. This presentation will discuss fears surrounding dual language exposure, empirical evidence supporting bilingualism in children with ASD, and key steps that clinicians can consider taking to better address the needs of diverse learners. Specifically, clinicians can inquire about a family's language usage and preferences, address fears about dual language exposure, and support parents in their use of heritage language through parent training.




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