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 #214
CE Offered: BACB
Evidence-Based Practice in Functional Analysis
Sunday, May 28, 2023
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 2A
Area: DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Megan A. Boyle (Upstate Caring Partners)
Discussant: Nicole M. DeRosa (Daemen University)
CE Instructor: Megan A. Boyle, Ph.D.
Abstract: Functional analysis is the gold-standard method of identifying behavioral function and developing reinforcement- and function-based interventions for severe behavior. There are a variety of functional-analysis methods from which practitioners may choose (e.g., Bloom et al., 2013; Iwata & Dozier, 2008; Jessel et al., 2022). With so many procedural variations, as well as recent messaging regarding the utility of different functional-analysis formats (Tiger & Effertz, 2021), practitioners may struggle with identifying functional-analysis methods that are best suited for their clients. This symposium will first present a theoretical talk on an evidence-based practice framework (Contreras et al., 2022) applied to functional analysis. Second, the symposium will include a data-based case study that illustrates how such a framework can be utilized. The symposium will highlight the need for conceptually systematic and individual analyses. Finally, both speakers and the discussant will discuss the dangers of adhering to a single functional-analysis format across all clients.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): evidence-based practice, functional analysis
Target Audience: Listeners should have had exposure to functional analysis in a general sense (that they entail reinforcement of problem behavior and the rationale for doing so). Listeners might benefit from previous exposure to evidence-based practice frameworks, although this is not required.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe evidence-based practice as a verb (a set of activities); (2) Describe what evidence-based practice looks like in the context of conducting functional analyses (e.g., intervening on certain topographies of behavior, basing methods on contemporary best-available evidence, incorporating caregiver concerns/values); (3) Describe some variations of functional analyses that may be considered in light of certain treatment characteristics (e.g., doing pairwise analyses when learners may have difficulty discriminating conditions).
Evidence-Based Decision Making Applied to Ethical Functional Analyses
AUDREY N. HOFFMANN (Utah State University)
Abstract: Evidence-based practice is a decision-making framework that integrates the best available evidence, consideration for client values and contexts, and clinical expertise. Although it has been considered as an important element of behavior analytic practice, there are minimal resources guiding practitioners to engage in evidence-based decision-making relative to the varied practice decisions they encounter. One practice decision practitioners encounter relates to functional analysis (FA) and meeting the ethical requirement to design assessments that are based on scientific evidence, conceptually consistent, and that consider the unique characteristics and needs of the client context and resources (BACB, 2020). Engaging in evidence-based decision-making relative to FA design and implementation ensures that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to assessment and FA technology. This presentation will review ethical evidence-based decision-making related to designing and conducting individualized FAs. The presentation will also present strategies for practitioners to consider the best available evidence, improve and apply their clinical expertise, and select and design FAs in the context of differing client characteristics and needs.
A Demonstration of Flexible Decision Making in the Functional Analysis Process
MEGAN A. BOYLE (Upstate Caring Partners), Sophia MacDonald (Missouri State University), Lauren Rector (Missouri State University)
Abstract: Researchers have validated a variety of formats and measurement systems in the context of functional analysis. Practitioners who are responsible for assessing and treating severe behavior should be able to select and modify formats to effectively and ethically serve clients during the assessment process. This talk will walk the audience through the functional-analysis process of the aggression of an adolescent autistic girl in a clinical setting. We will highlight how we incorporated learner and stakeholder (her primary caregiver) values, utilized available resources, incorporated the best available empirical evidence, and relied on clinical judgement of the primary clinician (a doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst with a specialization in assessing severe behavior) when making decisions. We identified functional reinforcers that influenced this learner's severe behavior (tangibles and escape) and ruled out others (attention), and used this information to develop a reinforcement-based intervention. Finally, we will highlight the specific benefits (and limitations) of the functional-analysis variations we chose and describe our rationale for using them.



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