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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #211
CE Offered: BACB
Variations in Assessment Methodologies for Individuals With Challenging Behavior
Sunday, May 26, 2024
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 103 B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Chelsea Rose Fleck (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Chelsea Rose Fleck, Ph.D.

When meeting a new client, behavior analysts often begin by conducting a number assessments to gather empirical information about client preference and behavioral sensitivities before implementing treatment. When the client engages in challenging behavior such as aggression or self-injury, clinicians may consider additional assessments beyond a functional analysis to identify reinforcers, target demands, or effective schedules of reinforcement. In the first talk, Emily Gottlieb will present on a negative reinforcement latency assessment (NRLA) for identifying potentially evocative demands or types of social interactions that may be relevant for the client's treatment. In the second talk, Nicholas Migliaccio will present on the impact of different functions of challenging behavior on levels of behavior during different preference assessment formats. Finally, Lauren Layman will present on an assessment for comparing the effectiveness of positive reinforcers in the treatment of escape-maintained problem behavior when participants do or do not have access to the reinforcers outside of the assessment.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): assessment, challenging behavior, escape, preference assessments
Target Audience:

Participants should be familiar with single-subject research design, assessment methodology, and behavior-analytic assessment and treatment approach for individuals with challenging behavior.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe a negative reinforcement latency assessment for identifying potentially evocative demands and/or social interactions to evaluate within a functional analysis; (2) describe features of preference assessment formats that may evoke challenging behavior with clients with some function types, and (3) describe the relative effects of open and closed economies on positive reinforcement-based interventions for escape-maintained problem behavior.
The Utility of Conducting a Negative Reinforcement Latency Assessment
EMILY GOTTLIEB (Marcus Autism Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta), Jennifer M. Hodnett (Marcus Autism Center; Emory School of Medicine; Children's Healthcare of Atlanta), Sarah Slocum (Marcus Autism Center; Emory School of Medicine)
Abstract: Behavior analysts use an array of assessment tools in their efforts to devise and implement function-based interventions (LeBlanc, Raetz, Sellers, & Carr, 2016). One such group of assessment tools include latency-based measures. Historically, these assessments promote gaining insight regarding the aversiveness of demands (Call, Pabico, & Lomas, 2009). More recently, this assessment logic has been applied to contexts expanding beyond demands. Specifically, latency assessments can develop a hierarchy of aversiveness related to exposure to social interactions (Slocum, Scheithauer, & Muething, 2021). The utility of these assessment measures is demonstrated by applying the insight gained to subsequent assessments and analyses (e.g., functional analysis). The current study applied negative reinforcement latency assessments for 5 participants. Results obtained in the negative reinforcement latency assessment were used to inform the functional analyses for participants and subsequently aid in developing effective intervention packages. Implementations of these results for designing assessment and treatment will be discussed.
The Effects of Varying Preference Assessment Methodology on the Occurrence of Challenging Behavior
NICHOLAS MIGLIACCIO (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University), SungWoo Kahng (Rutgers University), Lauren Gayoso-Acuna (Rutgers University), Arielle Rose Marshall (Rutgers Graduate School of Applied Psychology), Ting-yu Liu (Rutgers University), Nicole Barfield (Rutgers University), Deandra Damson (Rutgers University)
Abstract: Preliminary research has suggested that while preference assessments are important for identifying items for use in behavioral and skill acquisition programming, some procedures may evoke challenging behavior. The occurrence of challenging behavior may vary from person to person due to assessment type and as a function of their challenging behavior. The purpose of this study was to extend on previous research and evaluate the relationships between different functions of challenging behavior and preference assessments. Three different models of preference assessments (paired stimulus (PS), multiple stimulus without replacement (MSWO), and free operant (FO)) were implemented three times each to 4 different participants whose challenging behavior was maintained by access to tangible items, escape from demand, and automatic reinforcement (AR). Results showed that the function of challenging behavior may impact rates of challenging behavior depending on assessment type. Two participants with access to tangible functions demonstrated little to no challenging behavior during all 3 assessment types. Two other participants with escape from demand and AR functions demonstrated higher rates of challenging behavior during the PS and MSWO sessions compared to the FO sessions. These findings suggest that practitioners may want to consider a client’s function of challenging behavior when deciding which preference assessment type is right for them.
Evaluation of Open and Closed Economies in the Treatment of Escape Behavior
LAUREN LAYMAN (Marcus Autism Center), Chelsea Rose Fleck (Marcus Autism Center), Sarah Slocum (Marcus Autism Center; Emory School of Medicine), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Many individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, engage in problem behavior such as aggression (e.g., hitting) or self-injurious behavior (e.g., self-biting). These behaviors are learned through repeated exposure to certain consequences, and one common reason is to get out of having to do nonpreferred activities. Current treatments involve providing breaks or edibles contingent on compliance to reduce “escape-maintained behavior.” While these interventions have been shown to be effective, the current study is examining how well these treatments work under open and closed economies. That is, when breaks or edibles are freely available, it is likely they will not work as well as a contingent reward. These treatments will be compared utilizing a reversal design with an embedded multielement design. Participants will include six individuals between the ages of 4 and 12, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and identified to engage in problem behavior when asked to complete tasks. Preliminary results have shown variable responding across all conditions.



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