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 #363
CE Offered: BACB
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Goes to School: Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Academic Performance, Classroom Disruption, and Psychological Flexibility
Sunday, May 26, 2019
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Fairmont, Third Level, Regent
Area: EDC/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Keyana Cooke (Saint Louis University)
CE Instructor: Emily Dzugan, M.S.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been shown to be an effective treatment strategy for a range of populations and behaviors. For instance, ACT has been shown to be effective with children to reduce bullying and other maladaptive behaviors, decrease food refusal, and increase attention during class activities. Recent behavior analytic attention has been paid to ACT with school aged children, as evident by a surge of behavior analysts interested in and using ACT in their practice. The current symposium will focus on three papers all using ACT with school aged children, across academic performance, classroom disruption/maladaptive behaviors, and psychological flexibility. The first paper will highlight the efficacy of PEAK-Transformation module for assisting children out of traditional behavior analytic services to ACT. The second paper will focus on the effects ACT had on three boys’ classroom engagement in a range of disruptive and maladaptive behaviors, and on-task behaviors. The final paper will explore the new AIM Curriculum (Dixon, 2017), and showcase outcomes on student academic performance and psychological flexibility. Attendees will gain first hand knowledge about three unique ways to bring ACT to school aged children, as well as see the effects of ACT on a range of behaviors.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Technicians

Learning Objectives: At the end of the symposium, attendees will: 1. Identify useful psychometrics and other measurement systems for measuring psychological flexibility 2. Label similarities across ACT and Dixon's 2017 AIM curriculum 3. Define mechanisms of change when using ACT for school-aged children

The Efficacy of the PEAK-T Module for Transitioning Individuals From Traditional Applied Behavior Analytic Services to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

(Service Delivery)
HALEY DAVIS (Southern Illinois University), Becky Barron (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

The current study evaluated the effects of implementing eight PEAK-T modules that targeted aspects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to two individuals who had been previously receiving ACT services. The participants had been targeted as struggling with the transition from traditional Applied Behavior Analytic services to ACT, with high levels of maladaptive behaviors, low ACT Quantitative Analysis Scale (AQAS) scores, and low scores on psychological flexibility assessments. Individuals were introduced to treatment in a staggered fashion according to multiple baseline across participants. Behaviors were recorded according to rate, and the assessments were conducted initially at baseline, prior to treatment, and at the conclusion of the study. Preliminary data suggests that the PEAK-T modules have been successful at achieving stable and/or increased scores for the AQAS. Additionally, maladaptive behaviors have displayed stable and/or decreased rates. Finally, it appears that there has not been a significant difference in scores between the beginning and the end of baseline for the psychological flexibility assessments. This may would suggest that the PEAK-T modules would be an effective tool for transitioning individuals from traditional Applied Behavior Analytic services to ACT.

Exploring the Effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Classroom Disruption and On-Task Behavior
(Applied Research)
EMILY DZUGAN (Saint Louis University), Alyssa N. Wilson (Saint Louis University), Heather Lynn Lewis (Saint Louis University)
Abstract: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has demonstrated effectiveness across a wide-range of populations; yet to date, no published research has demonstrated the utility of Dixon’s (2014) ACT curriculum as a treatment for children in an educational setting. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to determine the effects of one-on-one ACT treatment on three participating students’ in-class behaviors. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline across participants with an embedded ABCB design was used. Two control conditions were incorporated into the experimental design: (a) pull-out version one was included to control for variables present in ACT therapy in this setting (e.g., escape from class and non-contingent adult attention); and (b) pull-out version two assessed the necessity of tailoring ACT treatment for children. Following ACT, challenging behaviors decreased to stable levels and on-task behaviors increased to stable levels. Following both versions of the pull-out condition, challenging behaviors surged to higher levels than previously demonstrated in both baseline and ACT conditions. Psychological measures (e.g., AFQ-Y and CAMM) showed both inconsistent and some negative score changes following treatment. Potential reasonings are discussed. Overall, these results support the utility of individual, tailored ACT treatment as an effective treatment for children and adolescents in the school setting.

An Exploration of the Accept-Identify-Move Curriculum: Impacting Psychological Flexibility and Academic Performance

(Applied Research)
ASHA FULLER (Arizona State University), Adam DeLine Hahs (Arizona State University), Pilar Isabella Bonilla (Arizona Association of Behavior Analysis (AZABA))

The AIM curriculum (Dixon, 2017) was developed to facilitate social-emotional development in children. Given its novelty, little research of any scope has been conducted exploring the efficacy of the curriculum. To that end, the current study seeks to explore the efficacy of the AIM program on student performance related to promoting psychological flexibility and increasing overall academic performance, while decreasing experiential avoidance and challenging behavior-related issues. We implemented the Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy portions of AIM with students aged 5-12. Additionally, we assessed the extent to which infusing these approaches within classrooms would impact teacher and instructional aid (IA) psychological flexibility and overall job satisfaction. Results suggest that student psychological flexibility increased over the duration of their exposure to AIM.




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