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 #439
CE Offered: BACB
Continuing Toward the Functional Analysis of Challenging Behavior
Monday, May 28, 2018
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom C
Area: PRA/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michael F. Dorsey (Endicott College)
Discussant: Joshua Jessel (Queens College)
CE Instructor: Joshua Jessel, Ph.D.

Functional Analysis is the standard in Behavior Analysis for the identification of those variables responsible for the maintenance of challenging behavior. Over the past 35 years literally thousands of replications and extensions of the initial Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman and Richmond (1982) have been published, extending the procedure across settings, populations, types of behaviors assessed, etc. The current symposium will review research on the latest iteration in this process, the Interview Informed Synthesized Contingency (IISCA).

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

University Faculty, ABA Researchers, ABA graduate students


Novel Interpretations and Future Directions of the Interview Informed Synthesized Contingency

LESLEY A. SHAWLER (Endicott College), Amanda Coffey (Behavior Network, Inc.; Endicott College), Michael F. Dorsey (Endicott College)

Since its inception, the functional analysis methodology (FA) described by Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982/1994)has consistently been referred to as the "gold standard" for identifying the controlling variables that maintain behavior. The FA is unique in that it specifically manipulates variables to help isolate various reinforcing contingencies. The behavior analytic literature is abundant with evidence in the use of the FA to guide clinicians toward function-based interventions to effectively treat problem behavior(s). Although the general definition does not require a commitment to specific procedures, multiple functional analysis formats have been developed to address specific concerns (e.g., practicality, efficiency, safety). Recently, an emerging literature has proposed yet another modification of the original FA methodology, utilizing synthesized contingencies to determine the function(s) of behavior, followed by its hypothesized treatment. The objective of this review is to evaluate the current literature on the synthesized functional analysis (SFA) approach proposed by Hanley, Jin, Vanselow and Hanratty (2014). We provide an objective review of the history, some of the procedural variations, and novel interpretations. We will also discuss future research as well as clinical considerations.


Identifying Preferred Break Environments for Individuals With Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior

NATALIE CASTELLUCCIO (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Cammarie Johnson (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University)

Despite the prevalence of breaks in treatments for escape-maintained problem behavior, no studies have empirically evaluated preference for different break environments (e.g., break with attention and/or tangibles). In this study, a pictorial preference assessment was conducted with 2 individuals with autism to identify preferred break environments. Assessed breaks were based on indirect assessments and direct observations. The highest- (HP) and lowest-preferred (LP) break environments and a control with no associated break were included in a reinforcer assessment using a reversal design within a concurrent-chains arrangement. Participants selected a multi-task sequence (initial link) associated with one of the break environments (terminal link). Phase A evaluated the reinforcing properties of all three break environments; the HP was removed in Phase B. Both participants allocated more responding to HP than LP, and LP than control, suggesting that breaks functioned as reinforcers. Interobserver agreement and procedural integrity were assessed in at least 33% of assessment trials; mean agreement and integrity scores were at least 98%. Social validity measures indicated that the results were useful for clinical programming.


Interview Informed, Synthesized Contingency Analysis: A Look at Social Validity, Generalization, and Maintenance

GABRIELLE MORRIS (Behavior Network, Inc.), Amanda Coffey (Endicott College), Lesley A. Shawler (Endicott College), Michael F. Dorsey (Endicott College), Maggie Nye (Behavior Network, Inc.)

Problem behavior has been a scientific focus of behavior analytic intervention since the inception of the discipline. Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982/1994) demonstrated the isolation of variables in analogue conditions to analyze and determine the maintaining functions of problem behaviors and refer to this process as a functional analysis (FA). Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty, 2014) suggests that synthesizing these variables and the addition of an open-ended interview may determine function more efficiently and accurately called the Interview-Informed, Synthesized Contingency Analysis (IISCA). The purpose of this presentation is to replicate and extend the current literature by exploring the utility of the IISCA with clients seen within a private practice setting (i.e. clinic and in-home) who engage in severe problem behavior. These participants are referred based on an "at-risk" of out of home placement due to the severity of behaviors.


Interview Informed, Synthesized Contingency Analysis: A Replication and Extension With Adults

AMANDA COFFEY (Endicott College), Lesley A. Shawler (Endicott College), Michael F. Dorsey (Endicott College), Maggie Nye (Behavior Network Inc.)

Functional Analysis literature has culminated in over a three thousand replications, modifications and extensions, making it the gold standard in experimental assessment and most frequently used by researchers as an initial assessment to guide treatment interventions for problem behavior (Beavers, Iwata, & Lerman, 2013). The purpose of this paper is replicate and to extend the current literature by exploring the utility of the IISCA in private practice, more specifically, within a more natural setting (i.e. home, group home, dayhab) and within anolder population that engage in severe problem behavior that inhibits participants from participating in their daily activities (i.e school, social, work).




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