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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #47
CE Offered: BACB
Current Applications of Synthesized Reinforcement Contingencies to Improve Socially Important Behaviors
Saturday, May 25, 2019
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Hyatt Regency West, Lobby Level, Crystal Ballroom B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Cory Whelan (May Institute; Western New England University)
Discussant: Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)
CE Instructor: Einar T. Ingvarsson, M.A.

Research and practice related to function-based interventions for problem behavior have evolved significantly since behavior analysts began working with children with problem behavior. One example is the synthesis of establishing operations and reinforcers in both functional and treatment analyses. The current symposium will focus on examples of the effects of synthesized reinforcement contingencies, and will present data related to (a) efficient analysis and treatment processes conducted in a school setting, (b) the application of a skills-based treatment package without extinction to reduce severe problem behavior, (c) a treatment model in which children and/or parents are continuously provided the choice of participating in treatment or leaving the therapeutic context, and (d) training parents to teach their children functional life skills in an effort to minimize emerging problem behavior and prevent severe problem behavior.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): FCT, IISCA, parent training, synthesis
Target Audience:

Behavior analysis practitioners, researchers, and educators.

Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analyses and Functional Communication Training: Replications in an Educational Setting
AMY KATE ROSENBLUM (May Institute), Cory Whelan (May Institute; Western New England University), Robin K. Landa (May Institute; Western New England University)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is an efficacious treatment used to decrease problem behavior and increase communication in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). FCT involves reinforcing the emission of a functional communication response (FCR) while placing problem behavior on extinction (Carr & Durand, 1985). In the present study, a reversal design was used Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analyses and Functional Communication Training: Replications in an Educational Setting to evaluate the utility of the interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA; Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty, 2014) in the identification of functional reinforcers for problem behavior to be used in subsequent FCT. Participants were students enrolled in a private school for students with ASD who engaged in severe problem behavior. For all participants, the IISCA led to the identification of functional reinforcers, and FCT resulted in a decrease in problem behavior and an increase in the FCR.
An Evaluation of Differential Reinforcement Without Extinction to Decrease Severe Problem Behavior
LAURA A HANRATTY (Elms College), Alyssa Jean Clark (Elms College), Christopher Tamburrino (Elms College), Miranda Fogg (Elms College)
Abstract: Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) is a common behavior change procedure used to increase a desirable behavior and simultaneously decrease a problematic behavior. This study expands on previous research by using differential reinforcement without extinction to teach communication responses, while decreasing severe problem behavior. In this study, three children between the ages of 4 and 12 years-old who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were exposed to functional communication and tolerance response conditions. Contingent on communication responses longer, higher-quality reinforcement intervals were delivered, while problem behavior resulted in the delivery of shorter, lower-quality reinforcement intervals. Reinforcement intervals were faded in a response chaining condition in which the number and difficulty of demands were increased. Communication responses, as well as compliance with adult lead instruction resulted in higher quality and longer reinforcement intervals, while problem behavior resulted in shorter, lower quality reinforcement intervals. The results showed that differential reinforcement without extinction was successful in decreasing severe problem behavior of aggression and disruptive behaviors, while increasing communication skills and compliance for all three children.
An Enhanced Choice Model for Minimizing Collateral Effects of Extinction in the Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior
ADITHYAN RAJARAMAN (Western New England University), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Holly Gover (Western New England University), John E. Staubitz (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, TRIAD), Johanna Staubitz (Vanderbilt University), Kathleen Simcoe (Vanderbilt University Medical Center ), Rachel Metras (Western New England University)
Abstract: In an attempt to develop and maintain a therapeutic relationship by minimizing extinction side and after-effects, we systematically replicated the progressive skill-based intervention process described by Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, and Hanratty (2014) within an enhanced choice model. In the enhanced choice model, participants were offered the choice to: (a) enter the context where typical treatment procedures were implemented (b) enter a “hangout” context in which the evocative conditions of the treatment context were never present, or (c) leave the therapeutic context altogether. These options were simultaneously and continuously available to participant for the duration of the treatment process. In this model, procedural extinction for PB was programmed in the treatment context, but extinction side- and after effects were avoided as participants could always choose to go “hangout” or to leave entirely. We provide measures on participant performance (e.g., problem behavior and targeted life skills), choices made within the therapeutic process, duration of intervention processes, and social validity of the procedures and outcomes.
Balance: A Home-Based Parent Training Program
KELSEY RUPPEL (Western New England University), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Adithyan Rajaraman (Western New England University), Robin K. Landa (Western New England University)
Abstract: Small group and class-wide teaching of particular social skills like functional communication, delay toleration, and compliance has been shown to both prevent and reduce existing problem behavior in typically developing preschoolers. Researchers have also demonstrated that a similar skills-based treatment designed from a functional analysis reduces the severe problem behavior of children with autism in clinics and schools. We will evaluate a similar skills-based program when implemented in the home with parents as the interventionists for their children with autism. Following an interview of parents to identify their child’s preferred and non-preferred activities, parents will be taught how to first play with their child and then taught how to develop the skills of functional communication, delay tolerance, and compliance. We will evaluate whether the program, as delivered in-home by parents, reduces problem behavior and increases functionally relevant skills. We will also report on parents’ acceptability of the program and its general effects.



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