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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #60
CE Offered: BACB
The Use of Biomarkers for Behavioral Decision Making
Saturday, May 28, 2022
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 258B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Colleen Suzio (Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN))
CE Instructor: Roxanne Gayle, Ph.D.

Evaluating behavior-environment relationships using biological events may aid in the identification of conditions under which higher rates of challenging behaviors are emitted. As well as be used for decision making for ongoing treatment of challenging behavior. One study evaluated the use of heart rate as a measure to indicate arousal during dental and haircut appointments to better assess if the participant was both compliant and comfortable throughout the procedure. The second study evaluated defecation patterns and their relation to rates of challenging behavior with both a molecular and molar analysis. Both studies discuss the need for interdisciplinary collaboration to better inform treatment.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): behavior reduction, Biological events, Biomarkers, heart rate
Target Audience:

Prerequisite skills include differentiation of molecular and molar analysis, experience with functional analysis, familiarity with graduated exposure procedures

Learning Objectives: (1) Participants will be able to identify and describe at least two biomarkers that can be used to aide assessment and ongoing treatment of challenging behavior; (2) Participants will be able to describe the collaboration process with interdisciplinary teams and the information obtained from such collaboration; (3) Participants will be able to identify additional measures to consider to determine level of comfort during appointments; (4) Participants will be able to identify compassionate care and cultural considerations when teaching adherence with appointments
Autonomic Arousal and Adherence with Appointments
ROXANNE GAYLE (Trumpet Behavioral Health, Endicott College, Pepperdine University)
Abstract: Children with developmental disabilities sometimes display avoidance responses such as noncompliance, aggression, and vocal refusal when completing healthcare routines such as dental cleanings and haircuts. This study evaluated the effects of both graduated exposure and a differential reinforcement procedure on the acquisition, maintenance, and generalization of compliance with dental and haircut routines. In addition, autonomic responses were used as an ancillary measure of distress or comfort and were included in the decision tree of practitioner actions. Procedures were completed in a simulated context of a haircut appointment or dental examination. Probes (test trials) were assessed in the analog (simulated) setting periodically to assess criteria for mastery prior to assessing the skill in the natural environment. Probes were also conducted in the actual environments used by hair stylists and dentists, to determine the extent to which compliance and autonomic responses generalized. The results of this study may lead to more comprehensive treatment plans that include the use of physiological responses in addition to compliance with procedures as an indicator that a fear/avoidance response has been extinguished. Assessing autonomic arousal is a useful addition to the procedures of exposing participants to haircuts and dental visit routines, to improve adaptation, compliance, and generalization.
Relationship Between Biological Events and Challenging Behavior: A Molecular and Molar Analysis
Abstract: Current assessment methodologies tend to focus on molecular analyses to identify the function of behavior. The data used to identify the function of behavior often does not incorporate biological processes that span molar time frames. For instance, abnormal defecation patterns (e.g., constipation) lasting days or weeks may lead to increasing rates of challenging behaviors. In this study, we evaluated the relationship between amount of stool discharge and challenging behaviors in one individual for varying time spans of days, weeks, and months. We found that higher production of formed stools was inversely related to challenging behaviors when data were aggregated at the 30-day level. Conversely, we observed a positive relationship between loose stools and challenging behaviors. Evaluating behavior-environment relationships using biological events spanning molar time frames allowed us to identify the conditions under which higher rates of challenging behaviors occurred. This analytic approach provides an example framework that might inform interdisciplinary collaboration with physicians and the resulting treatment for individuals with comorbid medical issues.



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