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 #465
Research and Implications of a Behavioral Perspective of Rigidity, Grit, and Perspective Taking
Monday, May 28, 2018
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Grand Hall D
Area: AUT/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: William Root (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale)
Abstract: This symposium will review current experimental and conceptual issues in behavioral rigidity, grit, and perspective taking skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The first presenter will provide a review of the existing literature on behavioral rigidity in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and will analyze rigidity and flexibility from a behavioral perspective. Implications for the practitioner will be discussed. The second presenter will discuss the concept of grit from a behavioral perspective, with implications for identifying variables that will help individuals persist in meaningful behavior. Finally, the third presenter utilized Relational Frame Theory to teach individuals with autism spectrum disorder perspective taking skills on Theory of Mind tasks.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Autism, Grit, Perspective Taking, Rigidity

Let's Loosen Up: Research Review and Behavioral Conceptual Analysis of Flexibility in Autism

ALEXANDRA LITTLE (University of Southern California; Learning and Behavioral Center), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids), Evelyn R. Gould (FirstSteps for Kids, Inc.)

Rigidity is a diagnostic feature of autism spectrum disorders and challenges with inflexibility amongst some individuals in the autism community are well-known among practitioners working in this area. Despite how common rigidity is, a surprisingly small amount of research has been done on flexibility in autism and an even smaller amount has been done on interventions for increasing flexibility. This paper reviews existing research and conducts a behavioral conceptual analysis of rigidity and flexibility, in terms of some of the potential behavioral repertoires that may be under-developed and some that may be over-developed in individuals who have challenges in this area. In particular, the distinction between "cognitive flexibility" and "behavioral flexibility" will be analyzed in terms of which repertoires may be involved in each and which may overlap between the two. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of future directions for research and practice in flexibility and autism.

True Grit: Conceptual Analysis and Review of Research on Grit
DAMION BIRL (University of Southern California; Autism Behavior Interventions ), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Southern California; FirstSteps for Kids)
Abstract: Grit is a concept that has been exploding in popularity in recent years. Research has shown that measures of grit correlate highly with effective functioning under very difficult circumstances and this effect seems to apply across cultures, behaviors, and settings. In most branches of psychology, grit is treated as a causal variable that is responsible for an individual’s ability to persist with single minded passion and work through substantial adversity. From a behavioral perspective, grit is probably better treated as a tact for certain patterns of behavior (and their corresponding history and controlling variables) that are particularly effective, even under environmental conditions where most individuals would persist less. Unfortunately, little or no behavioral research has been done on grit to this point. This presentation will review existing research measures of grit and conduct a conceptual analysis of behavioral repertoires labeled as “gritty,” with the goal of potentially identifying environmental variables that could be manipulated that may help people be “more gritty,” that is to say, help people persist in socially meaningful adaptive behaviors, even under very difficult circumstances.

Perspective-Taking and Multiple Exemplars in Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Applied Research)
NATALIA BAIRES (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)

Consisting of five levels of understanding, perspective-taking (PT) encompasses skills individuals require to take on perspectives of others. While this skill is frequently absent in repertoires of children with autism, adults with autism also lack key components for strong PT skills. The term "advanced theory of mind" was devised to account for the subtlety in social information and difficulty in interpreting such information, which is encountered on a daily basis. Existing literature on PT yields limited studies focusing on adults with autism. In turn, treatments to strengthen PT skills in adults with autism are scarce, which indicates a bigger need for such treatments. In the current study, participants, consisting of adults with autism, will complete five theory of mind (ToM) tasks in a multiple probe across participants design. As part of exclusion criterion, participants possess an intelligence quotient of at least 90. Using a Relational Frame Theory and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy perspective, participants will expand their PT skills if low performance is demonstrated. Preliminary data obtained from typically developing adults demonstrate high scores. It is hypothesized that participants' scores on ToM tasks will improve in the post-test phase and their skills will generalize to a novel ToM task.




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