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 #233
CE Offered: BACB
Telepractice: A Necessary Bandage During COVID-19 or a Valuable Tool in a Post-Pandemic World?
Sunday, May 28, 2023
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center 405
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Valerie R. Rogers (The ABRITE Organization)
CE Instructor: Valerie R. Rogers, Ph.D.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges related to securing and maintaining access to applied behavior analysis (ABA) intervention for children with autism, it also brought forth an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of new service models, teaching procedures, and skill acquisition targets. The use of telepractice intervention across distance learning educational models and insurance-funded services became a necessary experience for many learners under pandemic conditions. It provided an occasion to assess the effectiveness of telepractice and ask questions such as “Under what conditions is telepractice effective?”, “How can telepractice be more effective?”, and “Is telepractice as effective as in-person intervention?” The current symposium attempts to address these questions. The first paper evaluates a tool for assessment of technology-based prerequisite skills for distance learning with special education students while subsequently teaching the identified skill deficits. The second paper provides a description of a telehealth treatment model and an analysis of outcomes achieved for learners receiving telehealth only intervention. The final paper examines the outcomes achieved for individuals receiving telehealth only, in-person only, and a hybrid model of both treatment modalities in attempt to assess relative effectiveness across conditions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Distance Learning, Outcomes, Telehealth, Telepractice
Target Audience:

The target audience should have experience and understanding as it relates to the provision of ABA services for individuals with autism and an understanding of standardized assessments results and an introductory knowledge of telepractice at the technician level.

Learning Objectives: (1) Participates will be able to describe components of an assessment and intervention involving behavioral skills training (BST) designed to identify deficits in and teach prerequisite skills involved in distance learning instruction. (2) Participants will be able to describe the relationship between rates of skill acquisition, proportion of recommended treatment hours received, and learner variables including telehealth prerequisite skills for children receiving telehealth intervention. (3) Attendees will be able to describe at least 2 of the advantages of BT delivered telehealth.
No Student Left Behind: Assessment and Acquisition of Technology-Based Prerequisite Skills to Promote Access to Distance Learning for Special Education Students
JANICE FREDERICK (The ABRITE Organization), Matthew Christopher Peterson (The ABRITE Organization; Brite Horizons), Jessica Karen Pizzica (Santa Cruz City Schools)
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in tremendous disruption to educational systems grounded in an immediate and complete shift to distance-based instruction for nearly all students. Students faced multiple barriers that impeded access to their educational programs during this unprecedented period. For some students, skill deficits served as a barrier to accessing education within virtual models of instruction. Special education students were and continue to be at higher levels of risk for skill gaps that may reduce their engagement and acquisition under distance learning conditions. In the current study, a tool for assessment of technology-based prerequisite skills for distance learning was developed and administered to special education students ranging from 1-12 grades. For a subset of students, assessment data were used to identify specific skills to target via behavioral skills training (BST) implemented by individualized support staff. A within-subject, multiple baseline design was employed to evaluate the effects of BST across skills. All students met mastery criteria for each targeted technology-based skill within 5 or fewer BST sessions each lasting no longer than 10 minutes. The assessment tool, assessment administration, and BST protocol will be discussed in detail. Implications of findings, necessity for further development of methodologies to promote access to virtual instruction for special education students, and future research will be discussed.
Outcomes of Telehealth Intervention: Is it Effective and for Whom?
VALERIE R. ROGERS (The ABRITE Organization), Ginger R. Raabe (The ABRITE Organization), Janice Frederick (The ABRITE Organization)
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way insurance-funded intervention has been implemented for many learners with autism including modifications in treatment modality. Direct behavior technician (BT) intervention via telehealth has now been implemented with a variety of learners under various conditions. Early in the pandemic, BT provided telehealth was the only available option for many consumers, yet it currently remains the only option for some learners given various barriers to in-person care including health concerns, location difficulties, or staffing shortages. Given the relative novelty of this mode of treatment, ongoing description of the treatment model and analysis of the effectiveness of the model remains essential. The current presentation provides a description of a BT provided telehealth model including practical guidelines and subsequently presents outcomes for learners receiving telehealth intervention. More specifically, an analysis of skill acquisition data in relation to variables such as age, proportion of recommended treatment hours received, standardized assessment results, treatment goals met, and telehealth prerequisite skills will be presented across multiple participants receiving telehealth only intervention for over 1 year. The presentation attempts to address the question of if BT provided telehealth is effective. Results are discussed in terms of factors correlating with improved outcomes and provides support for insurance-funded ABA treatment under these conditions. The need for ongoing outcome analyses and future research are discussed.
An Examination of Telehealth Service Delivery: Data and a Cautionary Tale
GINGER R. RAABE (The ABRITE Organization), Valerie R. Rogers (The ABRITE Organization), Janice Frederick (The ABRITE Organization)
Abstract: The COVID 19 pandemic created an unparalleled threat of access to services for learners with developmental delays and their families. Many behavior analysts minimized this threat to our stakeholders by navigating a new mode of service delivery, namely telepractice services. This shift in the delivery of services created a serendipitous opportunity to examine the effects of this mode of delivery, particularly at the behavior technician (BT) level. Now, nearly 3 years later, research-practitioners are asking questions regarding the effectiveness of BT level telehealth services and the conditions under which this service delivery model could be recommended. Some considerations include not only the effectiveness of telehealth, but also the relative effectiveness. The griping effects of the pandemic could be described as waning and there are now conditions under which both in person and telehealth options are possible, yet are the data clear on how a behavior analyst decides? Is BT level telehealth as effective as in-person? For what type of learner is BT level telehealth likely effective? The current presentation will present data for learners who experienced traditional in-person services while also examining learners’ data who experienced telehealth only or a hybrid model. Within and between category analyses were conducted and observations of learning trends led to some preliminary practical recommendations for clinicians. In addition to the presentation of results, the discussion will focus on the cautions for clinicians to consider while exploring the relative benefits of BT delivered telepractice.



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