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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #57
CE Offered: BACB
Extensions of Practical Functional Assessment and Skills-Based Treatment: Updates on Training, Implementation, and Overcoming Barriers
Saturday, May 23, 2020
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 207A
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Kara LaCroix (The Autism Community Therapists, LLC)
Discussant: Kevin J. Schlichenmeyer (TACT, LLC )
CE Instructor: Kevin J. Schlichenmeyer, M.Ed.

In 2012, Hanley provided guidance to mitigate and overcome the myths that functional analyses (FAs) are too complex, take too long, and are too risky for dangerous behavior. Despite Hanley’s recommendations and evidence suggesting that FA is the most informative tool in the assessment of problem behavior, many practitioners rely on indirect or descriptive methods. We will share extensions of the practical functional assessment (PFA) and skill-based treatment (SBT) model and describe how they can directly influence practitioners’ assessment and treatment practices. In Study 1, FA training was evaluated wherein participants of various backgrounds learned how to accurately conduct Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analyses (IISCAs) in ecologically relevant settings following a PFA workshop. IISCAs with 3-minute analysis sessions were conducted in Study 2, which led to meaningful treatment outcomes with nine clients in a consecutive case series. The remaining studies attempt to break down the myth that FAs are too risky when it comes to severe problem behavior. To evaluate risk, a group FA and treatment was conducted with clients who have severe problem behavior in a classroom with limited resources (Study 3) and IISCAs and treatment were developed for clients whom had been reported to have idiosyncratic problem behavior in a specialized school (Study 4).

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Autism, Functional Analysis, Treatment Analysis
Target Audience:

BCBAs, BCBA-Ds, BCaBAs, licensed psychologists, and other behavior analytic providers who wish to learn how to assess and treat problem behavior.

Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will be able to describe effective ways to overcome barriers to staff training. 2. Participants will be able to describe how to conduct safe and efficient functional analyses. 3. Participants will be able to describe how to implement practical functional assessment and skills-based treatment with limited resources.
A Randomized Controlled Trial of Seminar-Based Training on Accurate and General Implementation of Practical Functional Assessments
CORY WHELAN (The Autism Community Therapists, LLC), Gregory P. Hanley (FTF Behavioral Consulting ), Robin K. Landa (May Institute ), Emily Sullivan (Western New England University), Rachel Metras (Western New England University), Kara LaCroix (The Autism Community Therapists, LLC)
Abstract: Despite evidence suggesting that functional analysis is the most informative tool in the assessment of problem behavior, practitioners rely on indirect or descriptive methods. Along with limited resources and training, behavior analysts cite concerns for safety of the client and clinician when problem behavior is evoked, preventing them from conducting FAs. Researchers have taught behavior analysts and caregivers to conduct FAs in a variety of settings, however no study has reported the long-term effects of such training programs (e.g., number of independent analyses conducted post-training, degree to which FAs yielded functional control). Our study focuses on training behavior analysts and school staff to design and conduct practical functional assessments that include an IISCA, an analysis which researchers and practitioners have used to safely and efficiently analyze problem behavior. Participants in the experimental group attended a workshop aimed at teaching the skills required to conduct a successful IISCA prior to conducting an analysis with a confederate client; participants in the control group experienced the workshop after conducting the IISCA with a confederate. Following training, several participants conducted an IISCA with a client who engaged in problem behavior and their skills and the extent to which they demonstrated functional control were evaluated.
Using Brief Session Durations During Functional Analysis to Inform Socially Sustainable Improvements in Problem Behavior
THERESA FIANI (The Graduate Center and Queens College, City University of New York), Joshua Jessel (The Graduate Center and Queens College, City University of New York)
Abstract: Functional analyses allow a clinician to identify causal relations between environmental stimuli and problem behavior. The interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA) was developed as a practical functional analysis format intended to be safe and efficient. Jessel, Metras, Hanley, Jessel, and Ingvarsson (2019) found that analysis sessions can be conducted in as little as 3-min, creating an analysis that requires as little as 15 min; however, it is not clear whether the results from 3-min IISCA sessions will inform effective function-based treatment. We replicated and extended previous research by conducting 3-min IISCA sessions followed by functional communication training and reinforcement thinning. Nine individuals diagnosed with autism, aged 3 to 20 years, participated due to reports of problem behavior exhibited in the school or home settings. Results demonstrated near elimination of problem behavior by the terminal treatment goal for all participants. The entire assessment and treatment processes were socially validated by caregivers. The results suggests that functional analyses do not require extended amount of time and can be used by clinicians to improve treatment outcomes.
Small-Group Implementation of Functional Analyses and Skill-Based Treatment
ROBIN K. LANDA (May Institute), Amy Kate Rosenblum (May Institute)
Abstract: Treatments designed from a functional analysis and aimed at teaching skills such as functional communication, toleration of delays to reinforcement, and cooperation with adult expectations can reduce severe problem behavior when implemented in a 1:1 instructional format for children and adolescents with autism (e.g., Hanley et al., 2014; Jessel et al., 2018). Similar skill-based treatments can prevent or reduce problem behavior when implemented in a small-group or classwide format for typically developing preschoolers whose problem behavior is not yet severe enough to warrant a functional analysis (see Fahmie & Luczynski, 2018). We sought to merge these lines of research by conducting functional analyses and skill-based treatment in a small-group format for a classroom of six adolescents with autism and severe problem behavior. All sessions were conducted by teachers in the classroom, using an enhanced choice model (Rajaraman et al., 2019) and a response-to-intervention approach. Functional analyses were differentiated, and the intervention resulted in an increase in communication, toleration, and cooperation for all six participants. Effective outcomes were achieved without supplemental 1:1 instruction for four participants. These results illustrate that it is possible to effectively treat severe problem behavior for multiple individuals without 1:1 intervention.
Implementation of Trial-Based Functional Analysis and Functional Communication Training Within a School Setting
NICOLE CONNOR MOORE (Ivymount School), Megan B. Boucher (The Ivymount School)
Abstract: Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a widely accepted practice to decrease challenging behavior and increase appropriate alternative behavior. Although the effectiveness has been well established in literature, there has been limited research on the use of FCT within school settings and with individuals who engage in challenging behavior related to idiosyncratic variables (e.g., adults moving materials, being asked to use a specific marker). The current study extends previous research by utilizing a trial-based functional analysis (FA) to identify various establishing operations/reinforcers for challenging behavior. This informed teaching contexts for FCT. Two participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities, ages 12 and 14, were included in the study. Participants engaged in challenging behavior (e.g., disruptions, aggression, elopement) and attended a non-public school that served individuals with special needs. A multiple baseline across contexts design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of FCT. Preliminary results indicate clear differentiation between test and control conditions within the FA. FCT resulted in rapid skill acquisition for one participant, with maintenance and generalization effects observed at a 3 month follow up. This approach may allow for the application of FA and FCT across a variety of settings with fewer resources.



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