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 #87
CE Offered: BACB
Empowering Public School Students: Functional Assessment and Skill-Based Treatment for Advanced Repertoires and Problem Behavior
Saturday, May 25, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 5, Grand Ballroom Salon F
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mara Vanderzell (Upstate Caring Partners)
CE Instructor: Mara Vanderzell, Ph.D.

This symposium comprises a series of presentations offering a comprehensive exploration of the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skill-Based Treatment (SBT) model. These interventions are discussed within the context of public schools that face limitations in behavior analytic services. While existing literature predominantly supports the application of this assessment and treatment model for individuals with developmental disabilities, this symposium underscores its adaptability for students both with and without formal diagnoses, including those with Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and neurobehavioral disorders associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (FASD) who exhibit challenging and potentially hazardous behaviors within the public school system. Central to this approach is a commitment to safety, televisibility, dignity, and rapport, with a focus on skill enhancement in communication, toleration of denials, and cooperation with adult-led instruction, particularly in contexts historically linked with severe problem behavior. The presenters will not only illuminate the theoretical underpinnings of the PFA-SBT process but also provide real-world insights into its practical application in public school settings, showcasing how it effectively mitigates problem behavior and fosters cooperation within the educational environment. This symposium offers valuable knowledge for educators, practitioners, and professionals seeking to empower students and enhance their educational experiences.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Problem behavior, Public schools

Improving Classroom Safety and Student Well-Being: Applying Functional Assessment and Skills-Based Treatment for Challenging Behaviors

KELLY MCCLOSKEY (Hawai'i Department of Education ), Dodi Pritchett (Hawaiʻi Department of Education)

This presentation provides an in-depth examination of the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skills-Based Treatment (SBT) Model. The focus is on a 5-year-old male student diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (FASD) who exhibits challenging and potentially hazardous behaviors within the public school environment. This approach places a premium on the safety, televisibility, dignity and rapport building in the therapeutic process. The fundamental principle of this approach is to mitigate problem behavior by explicitly teaching essential skills to students, including communication, tolerance, and contextually appropriate behaviors. The treatment was administered by two Behavior Analyst Teachers, involving over 550 trials conducted over a 13-week period. The acquired skills were then generalized across different instructors and settings, resulting in the student consistently demonstrating success in the general education classroom. Throughout this presentation, experts in this functional model will illustrate how the PFA-SBT framework can be effectively implemented in public school settings to provide support for all students grappling with challenging behavioral issues. This innovative approach holds the potential to enhance classroom safety, foster student well-being, and offer valuable insights to educators and professionals seeking effective strategies for behavior management and skill development.

Fostering Cooperative Play and Task Tolerance: Skill-Based Teaching for Neurotypical Learners Without Developmental or Psychiatric Diagnoses
EMILY TIEMANN (Upstate Caring Partners)
Abstract: Hanley et al. (2014) described a skill-based treatment to treat challenging behavior in learners with autism spectrum disorder. Since then, there have been several studies focused on skill-based treatment applications with learners with developmental disabilities; however, individuals without formal diagnoses are less represented in the literature (e.g., Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, & Hanratty, 2014; Jessel, Ingvarsson, Metras, Kirk, & Whipple, 2018). The current study replicates the treatment model described in Hanley et al. (2014) for a learner placed in a general education, first grade classroom within a public school, without any formal developmental disability or an individualized education plan. The learner was referred to treatment due to unsafe and disruptive behaviors that were reported to occur when demands were placed and when the student was faced with perceived social injustices. This hypothesis was confirmed with a functional analysis. The contextually appropriate behaviors targeted in treatment included completion of academic tasks, tolerating correction, and cooperative play (e.g., losing a game). Treatment was conducted by a BCBA consultant, and lasted a little over one-month. Throughout the 220 trials of treatment, the student engaged in low levels of challenging behaviors and was able to participate in contextually appropriate behaviors for 10 minutes.

Implementing Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skill-Based Treatment (SBT) for Non-Autism-Spectrum-Disorder (ASD) Individuals in Public Schools

TABITHA KANE (Upstate Caring Partners)

There is a breadth of research describing the effectiveness of the practical functional assessment (PFA) and skill based treatment (SBT) to assess and treat challenging behavior exhibited by individuals with autism and related disorders (Hanley et al., 2014). This study extends the research by examining the application of the PFA and SBT within a public school setting and with a student without a formal diagnosis. This student was referred for assessment due to significant rates of unsafe behavior that disrupted the learning environment. A PFA was conducted and following the analysis, SBT was immediately implemented. Treatment included teaching appropriate communication, acceptance of delays or denials, and engaging in contextually appropriate behavior. This student worked on taking turns while playing a game, engaging in independent activities, and following an adult’s instructions within an academic context. Treatment consisted of 225 trials across seven months. This student exhibited zero instances of unsafe behavior and low rates of warning signs in the form of a raised voice, resistance to an instruction, and/or complaints. At the conclusion of the school year this student appropriately took turns during a game, quietly engaged in independent work and followed academic instructions for up to 5 minutes.




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