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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #56
Interventions to Increase Physical Activity in Individuals With and Without Developmental Disabilities
Saturday, May 27, 2023
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1A/B
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Samantha Bryan (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Physical activity has been shown to be an important component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and applied behavior analysis has demonstrated success in this area. In this symposium, we present three studies that explore different applications of behavior analysis to increase physical activity in individuals with and without developmental disabilities. The first paper includes an evaluation of a functional analysis of physical activity for children diagnosed with autism who exhibit problem behavior. Our second paper included an evaluation of the good behavior game to increase physical activity of kids with ASD during fitness routines. Our final study includes an evaluation of an automated competition for increasing physical activity in typically developing adults.
Instruction Level: Basic

Evaluation of Variables Influencing Physical Activity and Problem Behavior in Children With Developmental Disabilities

DELANEY E SCHNEIDER (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Muroe-Meyer Institute), Cynthia P. Livingston (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Isaac Joseph Melanson (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Sarah Elizabeth Martinez Rowe (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Heather Anderson (University Nebraska Medical Center), Samantha Bryan (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)

Increasing physical activity for children diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disabilities is essential. Research promoting physical activity in this population is scarce, however, some research suggests physical activity may decrease problem behavior and promote prosocial behavior, in addition to other health benefits (e.g., increase cardiovascular health). The current study aimed to identify which variables increase physical activity and how the variables affect problem behavior in children diagnosed with developmental disabilities. The participants were observed in different contexts (i.e., fixed equipment, open space, exercise video, control, and outdoor toys). Data were collected on participants’ physical activity, activity context engagement, and problem behavior. Additionally, a multielement functional analysis of challenging behavior was conducted. Researchers identified a higher rate of MVPA in one or more conditions when compared to control and other test conditions. Problem behavior did not occur or remained low during physical activity sessions for all participants.

Can the Competition Feature on a Fitness Tracker Increase Physical Activity?
CHELSEA HEDQUIST (New England Center for Children), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Physical activity has been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved sleep and decreased risk of diabetes. However, individuals rarely meet the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommendation of 150 min per week of moderate-to-vigorous-physical activity (MVPA). Therefore, identifying new strategies for increasing MVPA is an important goal for promoting health and wellness. One helpful tool for increasing physical activity is to have individual’s wear fitness trackers that automatically record heart rate, step count, exercise minutes, calories, and stand hours. In addition to these features, some fitness trackers also offer a competition feature that allows users to challenge other individuals to compete for points gained through physical activity. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the competition feature alone for increasing MVPA among neuro-typical adults. If the competition feature alone was insufficient, additional components, including self-monitoring and a contingency contract, were evaluated. Participants (n = 14) were paired into groups of two (n = 7 pairs) and competitions were arranged. For some participants, the competition alone was effective to increase levels of MVPA. Other participants required self-monitoring and contingency contracts.

A Preliminary Investigation of the Good Behavior Game to Increase Participation in a Physical Fitness Activity for Elementary Aged Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

CHRISTINA RODRIGUEZ (33133), Yanerys Leon (University of Miami), Ivan Deveaux (University of Miami)

Few children meet the recommended guidelines for daily moderate to vigorous physical activity. For children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) this gap is even wider (Abadi et al., 2021). Children with ASD face unique challenges across a variety of domains (e.g., social communication, motor coordination) that may contribute to low levels of engagement in group physical fitness routines. Additionally, children and adolescents with ASD are more than twice as likely to be obese as individuals without a developmental disability. Previous researchers have shown that a group contingency (i.e., the Good Behavior Game; GBG) can increase motor activity of typically developing children during unstructured play (Galbraith et al., 2017). In this study, we evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of the GBG to increase engagement in a physical fitness routine of elementary aged children diagnosed with ASD attending an autism-specialty summer camp. The camp curriculum included a daily 60-min physical education activity led by a certified physical education instructor. Engagement in the various activities was low during baseline. Implementation of the GBG resulted in an increase in engagement across both classes. Results suggest GBG is a promising, low-cost approach to increase engagement with physical education activities for children diagnosed with ASD.




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