In their seminal article, Baer, Wolf and Risley (1968), stated that behavior analytic intervention is expected to result in strong, socially important, and generalizable behavior change which, in this case, should mean more positive adult outcomes in ASD. Unfortunately, despite a nearly three decade-long emphasis on evidence-based, behavior analytic intervention in ASD, adult outcomes remain poor “for almost any outcome you choose.” (Roux, et al, 2015, p. 8). While there may be several reasons for continued poor outcomes (including the challenge of simply defining “good outcome”), the potential of behavior analytic intervention to develop more positive adult outcomes has yet to be fully realized. Such outcomes, however, are well within the reach of our behavior analytic technology. But to do that, the contingencies governing our behavior will, most likely, need to shift. For example, we will need to shift from contingencies that reinforce the technical precision of our classroom-based interventions to contingencies the reinforce the somewhat less technical precision of community-based intervention (assuming the target has a fair degree of social validity). This tutorial will identify a number areas, both internal and external to the field, where a “contingency shift” may be necessary if the power of behavior analytic intervention to significantly improve outcomes for adults with autism is to be more fully realized.
|Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., is the Executive Director of the EPIC School in Paramus, NJ. Dr. Gerhardt has nearly 40 years of experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in educational, employment, residential and community-based settings. He is the author or co-author on a number of articles and book chapters on the needs of adolescents and adults with ASD and has presented nationally and internationally on this topic. Dr. Gerhardt serves as Co-Chairman of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research and is on numerous professional advisory boards including the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He received his doctorate from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Graduate School of Education.