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 #127
Clinical Evaluations of PEAK Relational Training System and Related Assessments
Sunday, May 28, 2023
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 3C
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Allyssa Minick (Endicott College)
CE Instructor: Amanda N. Chastain, M.A.

The PEAK Relational Training System is a standardized behavior-analytic comprehensive treatment model that has been supported by over 70 published peer-reviewed studies. This symposium will present three papers extending previous work on PEAK by examining the impact of treatment dosage, exploring a play-based assessment for early-childhood learners, and evaluating its assessment tool in classifying autism symptom severity. Specifically, the first paper will present the outcome of a systematic literature review on using play-based unstructured assessment in early-childhood intervention and preliminary results on a new play-based assessment. The second paper will focus on parameters, such as dosage, that predicted the treatment outcome of PEAK-based intervention. The third paper will examine convergent validity on the PEAK Comprehensive Assessment’s (PCA) ability in classifying autism symptom severity. Implication on the assessment and treatment delivery of PEAK will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Assessment, PEAK, Psychometrics, Symptom Severity
Target Audience:

It would be helpful for audience members to have a basic understanding of complex language and cognition from a behavior-analytic perspective (e.g., derived relational responding, equivalence, relational frame theory, PEAK).

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe factors impacting the treatment outcome of PEAK; (2) describe the differences between play-based and structured behavior-analytic skill assessment; (3) describe convergent validity between the PCA and common instruments for autism symptoms.

Play-Based Assessments in Early-Childhood Applied Behavior Analysis Intervention

JENNIFER POSEY (Endicott College), Mark R. Dixon (Endicott College)

This presentation seeks to examine the efficacy of play-based assessments as compared to highly structured skill-based assessments when identifying treatment areas for learners enrolled in early childhood ABA programs. In order to provide the most effective treatment, it is essential that providers accurately identify the skill repertoire of their learners to include foundational skills such as early communication and learner readiness, as well as more advanced social communicative repertoires that include derived relational responding. Young learners enrolled in early intervention programs may lack necessary prerequisite skills to engage in highly structured assessments and may be more appropriately assessed in a play based format. As such, it is essential that an assessment of skills is not only robust, but adequately engages the learner. Through a systematic literature review, the current paper argues that there is a lack of empirically validated play-based assessment tools available to behavior analysts. In addition to reviewing current research surrounding play-based behavior-analytic assessments, this presentation will also provide data supporting the use of play-based assessment according to learner repertoires and provide evidence that a new play-based behavior analytic tool is both effective and utilitarian to practitioners of early childhood behavior analytic programming.

Evaluating the Relationship between Dosage and Outcomes for Children with Autism Receiving PEAK Intervention
LINDSEY NICOLE HOLTSMAN (Emergent Learning STL Center ), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago), Zhihui Yi (Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago)
Abstract: Applied behavior analysis (ABA) has received wide support in its effectiveness in promoting socially significant changes. The intensity of such intervention is often left to the hands of clinicians. Although it is often assumed that a more intense intervention started at early stages of life would lead to better long-term outcome, very few study examined the relationship between the intensity of ABA treatment and learner outcome. The current study examined the relationship between dosage of ABA services and learner’s progression during standardized behavior-analytic testing. Using a cohort of 26 participants who all received center-based ABA services, the current study presents post-hoc analyses of learner’s data on parameters predicting learner’s progress. Results show that the weekly average of ABA services predicted learner’s improvements in the PEAK Comprehensive Assessment (PCA) through 6-month of PEAK-based intervention. Other parameters were also analyzed for potential predictors of treatment success. Implications for optimizing dosage for PEAK treatment delivery was discussed.
Evaluating Relationships Between the PEAK Comprehensive Assessment and Measures of Autism Symptomology
AMANDA N. CHASTAIN (University of Illinois, Chicago), Zhihui Yi (Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago), Meredith T. Matthews (University of Illinois at Chicago), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Abstract: The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Second Edition (ADOS-2) is often used as a diagnostic tool used for evaluating symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The ADOS-2 is used in combination with other, often subjective, measures, such as Child Autism Rating Scale questionnaire for parents and caregivers (CARS-2), to formally diagnose an individual with ASD. The PEAK Comprehensive Assessment (PCA) is a standardized objective measure of language and cognition and includes the PEAK Autism Symptoms and Behavioral Observation Summary (PAS-BOS). The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the relationship between scores on the PAS-BOS, ADOS-2, PCA, and CARS. Results indicate statistically significant correlations between the CARS-2 parent questionnaire and PAS-BOS, as well as between the CARS-2 and total PCA score. Analyses were also conducted evaluating the relationship between the above variables and the ADOS-2 autism classification. Implications and findings in PCA’s ability in classifying autism symptom severity will be discussed.



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