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.

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50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details


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Symposium #395
CE Offered: BACB/NASP
Come With Alice Beyond the Looking Glass: Trauma From a Behavioral Perspective
Monday, May 27, 2024
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 9-10
Area: CBM/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Jeannie A. Golden (East Carolina University)
Discussant: Robin Williams (Simplify Behavior )
CE Instructor: Robin Williams, Ph.D.
Abstract:

Trauma, a reaction to events that people do not have the capacity to cope with effectively, is a human experience that has often been ignored or unacknowledged by behavior analysts, perhaps because it is not directly observable and measurable. However, it is important for behavior analysts to address trauma, as it has a profound effect on behaviors being analyzed when conducting functional behavioral assessments. The presenters in this symposium will address several aspects of trauma. The first presenter will use behavioral principles to explain the effect of trauma on behavior, which will increase the ability of behavior analysts to understand and provide interventions for individuals who have experienced trauma. The second presenter will propose the addition of two additional functions of behavior that seem more common in individuals who have experienced trauma, control and signs of damage, for behavior analysts to consider in their functional behavioral assessments. The third presenters will provide strategies for assisting individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in dealing with trauma. The final presenters will describe a behavioral observation system for measuring trauma-informed interactions and provide information about its ability to reliably measure change in the behavior of people who had been trained to use those strategies.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): challenging behavior, observation system, trauma, trauma-informed care
Target Audience:

Participants can include BCBAs, teachers, school administrators, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, therapists, and social workers. Participants should be familiar with terms including verbal behavior, discriminative stimuli, establishing and abolishing operations, and positive and negative reinforcement, and have experience and examples dealing with those terms.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to: (1) Explain why youth who have experienced trauma are more likely to exhibit challenging behaviors; (2) Describe how to incorporate distal setting events, discriminative stimuli, and motivating operations into functional behavioral assessments of youth who have experienced trauma; (3) Describe two additional functions of behavior that seem more common in individuals who have experienced trauma, control and signs of damage, for behavior analysts to consider in their functional behavioral assessments; (4) Describe strategies for assisting individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in dealing with trauma; (5) Describe a behavioral observation system for measuring trauma-informed interactions and its ability to reliably measure change in the behavior of people who had been trained to use those strategies.
 
Explaining the Impact of Trauma Using Setting Events, Motivating Operations, Discriminative Stimuli, and Reinforcement History
JEANNIE A. GOLDEN (East Carolina University)
Abstract: When confronted with challenging behavior, behavior analysts often look only for observable antecedents in the present environment when conducting functional behavioral assessments. Although observable antecedents can serve as triggers to elicit challenging behaviors, underlying trauma can make behaviors more extreme and produce automatic physiological responses. Behavior analysts need to incorporate distal setting events, discriminative stimuli, motivating operations, and reinforcement history into their functional behavioral assessments of challenging behaviors of individuals who have experienced trauma. Additionally, it is necessary to acknowledge the impact of verbal behavior in implementing effective interventions, as private thoughts and feelings often are the establishing operations that motivate challenging behaviors. When strong emotional reactions and physiological responses are brought about by underlying trauma, trauma-informed response can serve as abolishing operations for these challenging behaviors. The presenter will offer alternative responses that staff and teachers can use with individuals who have experienced trauma and subsequently exhibit challenging behavior.
 
Beyond the “Fab Four”: A Look at Function Through a Trauma Lens
SHARON ESTILL OLDER (Adapt Behavioral Services)
Abstract: Behavior analysts are trained to identify four functions of behavior, which are attention, escape, access, and automatic reinforcement. However, this framework has its limitations, especially regarding individuals who have experienced trauma. Traumatic experiences can create overgeneralized escape or avoidance of environmental stimuli that were paired with trauma. They can also create a desensitization to or tolerance of inappropriate behaviors of others that they were exposed to on a regular basis. Traumatic experiences can also have the opposite effect, resulting in hypersensitivity or hypervigilance to behaviors of others that were associated with these events. These events can alter the specific type of attention that is reinforcing, establish “signs of damage” as a reinforcer, increase the value of “control” as a motivator, as well as expose the child to sexual stimulation as an automatic reinforcer at a much earlier age than is typical. Variations of the “Fab Four” functions, as well as other maintaining variables, will be presented as ways to conceptualize sequelae of trauma and assist service providers in developing more effective interventions for individuals with trauma histories.
 

How to Use Trauma-Informed and Compassionate Approaches Effectively With Individuals With Developmental and Intellectual Disability

GABRIELLE MORGAN (Bay Path University), Amber Flannigan (Dorchester School District Four )
Abstract:

It is well documented that Individuals with diagnosed developmental and intellectual disability have an increased risk of experiencing adverse events including abuse and neglect. These are also the populations primarily served by behavior analysts. With the emerging interest of behavior analysts in utilizing trauma-informed and compassionate approaches, it is imperative that we incorporate these concepts into our practice while remaining true to behavioral principles and our ethics code. This presentation will discuss the effects of adverse experiences on behavior, how to take those experiences into consideration when developing interventions, engaging with caregivers, and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team The first presenter will also describe steps that should be taken by behavioral providers to remain within their scope of competence while effectively and ethically serving individuals with backgrounds of adverse experiences. The second presenter who is a school psychologist will provide resources, strategies, and a case example of how to use these approaches in schools.

 

Measuring Trauma-Informed Care Strategies: The Reliably and Utility of an Observation System

COURTNEY ALSTON (East Carolina University), Taylor Smith (East Carolina University), Login Routh (East Carolina University), George Cherry Jr (East Carolina University), Nancy Soto-Garcia (East Carolina University), Daniel Stickel (East Carolina University), Richard Ung (East Carolina University)
Abstract:

A behavioral observation system was developed to measure school personnel's use of trauma-informed strategies. The verbal behavior of adults toward youth can serve as motivating operations that can either encourage (establishing) or discourage (abolishing) aggressive, violent, oppositional, or defiant behavior. When strong emotional reactions and physiological responses are brought about by underlying trauma, techniques such as reflective listening, reframing, empathy, paradoxical intention, reinforcement, validating, and debriefing can serve as abolishing operations for these challenging behaviors. School personnel participated in a workshop that described and demonstrated these strategies and then practiced these strategies in role-play sessions. Undergraduate students were trained to identify trauma-informed strategies on a checklist using a series of role-play sessions to practice observing and test reliability. Inter-observer reliability was calculated on a series of observations of school personnel by two students. Comparisons of the use of trauma-informed strategies before and after training were made to determine any behavior changes in school personnel. Presenters will report on inter-observer reliability as well as changes in school personnel's behavior and demonstrate some of these trauma-informed strategies.

 

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