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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Paper Session #440
Ethical Issues in Treatment
Monday, May 28, 2018
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Seaport Ballroom A
Area: PRA
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Neal Shipley (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Online)

Making Applied Ethical Decisions: Do Behavior Analysts Have More Objective Measures Than a Moral Compass?

Domain: Service Delivery
NEAL SHIPLEY (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Online; PlayDate Behavioral Interventions)

Ethical training has become a cornerstone of the (re)certification process for board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs): course sequences approved by the behavior analyst certification board (BACB) have at least one course in ethics, continuing education explicitly related to ethical competence is requisite for practicing BCBAs wishing to maintain credentials, and ethics-related literature is widely available from journal articles to full-length books. Although individual sources provide insightful, often objective, advice on ethical decision-making, a ubiquitous "how-to" guide in how practitioners should respond to applied ethical dilemmas has not emerged. The present article uses the author's own applied research, and several other case studies sources within behavioral literature to recommend a matrix-type system by which ethical dilemmas, their co-relating compliance codes, and potential solutions may be organized, starting with proposed "in-house" solutions specific practitioners or agencies may take, culminating in filing a notice with the BACB. While a completely comprehensive system will require collaboration across populations and setting in which behavior analysts work, the present paper suggests a starting point, as evidenced by current ethical literature.

The Ethics of Addressing Non-Evidence-Based Therapies in the United States and International Jurisdictions
Domain: Service Delivery
ANGELA CAPUANO (University of Michigan), Kim Killu (University of Michigan - Dearborn), Rosemary A. Condillac (Brock University)
Abstract: There are many options available to families for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Though many of these are well-established, evidence-based therapies, many therapies without empirical support exist and are readily available. Many of these approaches are locally sanctioned and publicly funded in their jurisdictions. In some countries, these unproven treatments constitute the current standard of treatment, and as such, behavior analysts are often met with requests to use them. Behavior analysts may face ethical challenges when redirecting clients away from unproven treatments. There is clear direction in the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (BACB, 2016) with respect to responsibilities relating to the use of non-evidence-based treatments. This paper will provide a framework, guided by Kay (2016), on how to use the principles of applied behavior analysis to guide practitioners on how to respond to requests to employ approaches lacking empirical evidence. Guidelines on how to use applied behavior analysis to collect data and how to present these to families and caregivers will also be presented. Examples from international jurisdictions will be used to illustrate these potential conflicts, propose solutions, and suggest areas for future consideration and discussion.
Applications of an Individualized Levels System in a School Setting
Domain: Applied Research
NICOLE CONNOR MOORE (The Ivymount School), Megan B. Boucher (The Ivymount School)
Abstract: A levels system is a type of token economy in which an individual moves up and down levels based on the occurrence of prosocial and maladaptive behaviors. Although the effectiveness of levels systems in inpatient and outpatient settings has been demonstrated, there has been limited research on the use of levels systems to decrease challenging behavior within school settings. The current study extends previous research by evaluating the effectiveness of a levels system in reducing target behaviors (e.g., disruptions, aggression) displayed by three participants between the ages of 10 and 12. All participants attended a non-public school that served individuals with special needs; participants’ diagnoses included Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A levels system was compared to a classroom management system (i.e., token economy) using an ABAB design. Preliminary results indicate a 91% reduction in target behaviors for one student and a 54% reduction in target behaviors for a second student when the levels system was implemented. Social validity will be assessed for both participants and staff that worked with the participants. Future research could examine specific components of a levels system (e.g., number of levels, parameters of reinforcement) necessary to maintain low rates of challenging behavior.
Enhancing Quality of Life Outcomes for Individuals Across a Lifespan
Domain: Service Delivery
TAHRA JOLENE CESSNA (Positive Behavior Supports Corporation), Tracy Smith-Kong (Positive Behavior Supports Corporation )
Abstract: A Quality of Life Assessment (QoL) tool has been developed to help families self-assess their overall QOL status prior to behavior plan implementation and assist the BCBA in collaborating with the family to identify broad, socially significant changes that a family prioritizes. The QOL tool organizes broad goals into domains of Health and Safety, Self-Advocacy, Social Relationships, Productive Activity, and Community Participation. This presentation reviews the quality of life assessment and provides analysts with steps in utilizing this tool in conjunction with a Functional Behavioral Assessment in order to create short term objectives that will be linked to broad QOL goals the family has identified. Information is presented that summarizes QOL levels prior to ABA therapy, as well as changes in QOL as measured every six months along with target behavior data.



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