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 #214
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Applied and Translational Research on Treatment Relapse
Sunday, May 24, 2020
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Ashley Marie Fuhrman (Rutgers University and Children's Specialized Hospital)
CE Instructor: Ashley Marie Fuhrman, Ph.D.

Functional communication training (FCT) is a common treatment that clinicians often use with individuals who engage in severe problem behavior. Many studies have shown that treatment relapse may occur following successful treatment with FCT when disruptions to treatment occur (e.g., during periods when reinforcement is unavailable). To improve the durability and generality of FCT, it is important for basic, translational, and applied researchers to evaluate procedures to decrease relapse of problem behavior and increase the persistence of appropriate alternative responses. The three presentations in this symposium will discuss recent research on treatment relapse. First, Ashley Fuhrman will present on a translational study evaluating the effects of training one alternative response versus multiple alternative responses on the resurgence of target behavior. Next, Courtney Mauzy will present on the effects of alternative response preference on resistance to change during functional communication training (FCT). Finally, Dan Mitteer will discuss the effects of the combination of contextual changes and procedural integrity errors on target behavior and alternative behavior during a test for relapse.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Preference, Procedural integrity, Response persistence, Treatment relapse
Target Audience:

Practitioners, faculty, graduate students, and professionals

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 1. Describe the recent research on and possible effects of training multiple alternative responses during differential reinforcement of alternative behavior on the resurgence of target responding , 2. Explain the effects of alternative response preference on resistance to change during functional communication training (FCT), and 3. Describe the effects of the combination of contextual changes, omission errors, and commission errors on target and alternative behavior during FCT.
Resurgence Following Traditional and Interdependent Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior
(Applied Research)
ASHLEY MARIE FUHRMAN (Rutgers University and Children's Specialized Hospital), Wayne W. Fisher (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)
Abstract: Clinicians frequently prescribe functional communication training (FCT) as a treatment for severe destructive behavior. Recent research has shown that FCT treatments are susceptible to treatment relapse in the form of resurgence of destructive behavior when individuals contact periods in which reinforcers are unavailable. Behavioral Momentum Theory (BMT) is a quantitative model of behavior researchers have employed to predict treatment relapse when the reinforcement component of FCT is suspended, which may occur when a caregiver is unable to implement treatment. Although many studies support the accuracy of BMT, it does not provide predictions for training multiple alternative responses during FCT, which recent research suggests can decrease resurgence. A novel theory of resurgence, Resurgence as Choice (RaC), allows researchers to test predictions of programming multiple alternative responses. The current study used a translational arrangement to evaluate the effects of training one alternative response versus multiple alternative responses on the resurgence of target behavior. Findings showed that multiple-response training did not decrease resurgence of target responding consistently; however, it increased the total amount of responding observed during the resurgence phase and decreased the overall probability of the target response.

The Potential Effects of Mand Preference on the Long-Term Maintenance of Functional Communication Training

(Applied Research)
COURTNEY MAUZY (University of Georgia), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Georgia), Wendy K. Berg (The University of Iowa), Kelly M. Schieltz (University of Iowa), Karla Zabala (University of Georgia)

Functional communication training (FCT; Carr & Durand, 1985) is the most frequently used reinforcement-based treatment to reduce problem behavior exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities (Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008). However, less is understood regarding long-term maintenance of FCT effects when treatment disruptions are encountered. Nevin and Wacker (2013) suggested that maintenance might be best defined, based on Behavioral Momentum Theory (BMT), as the persistence of adaptive behavior and the lack of resurgence of problem behavior when challenges to treatment occur. Ringdahl and colleagues (2018) utilized this conceptual framework to evaluate the impact of variables related to response topography, specifically preference for mand modality, on the persistence of appropriate behavior. Results suggested using high-preferred mand modalities identified through a concurrent-operant preference assessment increased appropriate behavior persistence. However, the high-preferred mand contacted more overall reinforcement pairings as a by-product of the procedures used to identify preference. In the current study, we addressed this potential confound by equating the number of response-reinforcer pairings across response alternatives during the preference assessment. Current results indicate high-preferred mands were more persistent than low-preferred mands, replicating the findings of Ringdahl et al., 2018, while controlling for response-reinforcer pairings.

Effects of Combining Contextual Changes, Omission Errors, and Commission Errors on Target and Alternative Behavior
(Applied Research)
DANIEL R. MITTEER (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Kayla Rechelle Randall (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute ), Ryan Kimball (University of St. Joseph), Sean Smith (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Most studies examining treatment relapse during functional communication training have assessed child target behavior (e.g., destructive behavior) and alternative behavior (e.g., communication response) when contextual changes occur with perfect treatment integrity or when omission errors (i.e., extinction for the alternative response) occur in the absence of a context change. Mitteer et al. (2018) found caregivers tended to make omission and commission errors by occasionally withholding or reinforcement following communication requests or delivering reinforcement following destructive behavior, respectively, during contextual changes or increased destructive behavior. No studies have examined the combination of contextual changes and omission and commission errors. Three children with autism spectrum disorder (a) emitted a target response (i.e., pad touch) for a preferred item in a home-like context, (b) emitted an alternative response (e.g., card touch) for that preferred item in a clinic context while the target response was extinguished, and (c) experienced a combined-relapse test in which the experimenter programmed the same rates and types of errors that caregivers made in Mitteer et al. within the home-like context. During the combined-relapse test, target behavior equaled or exceeded baseline ranges in all cases and alternative behavior extinguished in two cases.



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