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 #38
CE Offered: BACB
Enhancing Clinical Services to Improve the Quality of Life of People With Autism
Saturday, May 25, 2024
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 103 B
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Luigi Iovino (Neapolisanit Center)
Discussant: Hillary Laney (Centria Healthcare)
CE Instructor: Floriana Canniello, Psy.D.

Within the complex clinical context of neurodevelopmental disorders, there is a growing need for timely and effective rehabilitation interventions. To meet these challenges, the integration of evidence-based experimental programs and the oversight of expert behavior analysts, aided by researchers and technologists, are imperative in clinical practice. Building on these principles, our research team has undertaken projects that combine ABA methodologies and technology to enhance the well-being of individuals with autism. Our focus areas encompass challenging behaviors, selective eating, communication, personal independence, and practical skills. The first study outlines the initial findings from an applied research project that led to the development of a decision-making model for ABA interventions. This model strives to support and formulate personalized interventions based on an individual's phenotypic traits. In the second study, we explore the outcomes of incorporating assistive technologies with ABA-based procedures, highlighting their potential to significantly impact communication skills, personal autonomy, and functional abilities. The third and fourth studies represent extensions and adaptations of PFA and SBT protocols in severe cases of food refusal and severe problem behavior, respectively. The adjustments and integration with software applications have resulted in substantial reductions in problem behaviors and improved the quality of life for the family.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Audience members should have foundational skills in the area of behavior intervention, building interventions from assessment, program design, shaping, and an understanding of functional analysis

Learning Objectives: 1. Discuss innovative methods for implementing ABA-based interventions through technology. 2. Discuss the usefulness of using technological supports to enhance the quality of ABA treatment. 3. Discuss how the application of Skill Based Treatment to address problem behaviour and food refusal supports meaningful outcomes for clients
A Novel Decision-Making Model for Tailoring Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatments
LUIGI IOVINO (Neapolisanit Center), Roberta Simeoli (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center; University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.), Maria Gallucci (AIAS Nola), Mariangela Cerasuolo (AIAS NOLA), Davide D'Elia (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Anna Del prete (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Claudia Caprioli (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center)
Abstract: The diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as defined by DSM-5-TR and ICD-11, strongly emphasize the two core symptoms characterizing the disorder, namely deficits in social communication and the presence of repetitive behaviors. However, ASD is a complex and heterogeneous condition, making the definition of suitable treatments a significant challenge. This work introduces an innovative decision-making model, based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles, with the aim of optimizing treatment choices for individuals with ASD. By harnessing the reciprocal interaction between individual behavioral traits and treatment variables, our approach has been designed to achieve the best fit between individual’s unique characteristics and treatment dimensions. Leveraging this dynamic interplay, we have developed a decision-making model capable of adapting interventions to meet each child's learning and developmental needs. In summary, our work introduces a cutting-edge decision-making model that shifts the focus from specific treatment models to a personalized and adaptable approach. This model not only will optimize treatment selection but also will pave the way for a more effective and individualized approach to addressing ASD, recognizing the dynamic nature of the condition and its associated interventions.

Enhancing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-Based Interventions for Effective Treatment of Autism People Through Technological Supports

SALVATORE VITA (Garage94), Luigi Iovino (Neapolisanit Center), Andrea MENNITTO (Garage94), Giuseppina Sangiovanni (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Valentina Iovino (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Luisa Guida (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center)

The role of technology in special education and rehabilitation has increased over the last 20 years. New interactive technologies, such as smart mobile devices, related applications (apps), wearable devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT), promote interaction between individuals and their environment, expanding opportunities to treat autism and other disabilities within the natural environment. Within the landscape of assistive technologies and software used for the treatment of autism, we present the Speech Platform for Autism Rehabilitation and Knowledge (SPARK), positioned within a theoretical framework that combines assistive technology with intervention strategies based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), all within an embodied approach. The current work presents the results of three multiple baseline across behavior design conducted on a total of nine patients (e.g. three each), using SPARK to teach three different intervention goals, as follows: (i) increase motivation for communication; (ii) teach self-care skills; (iii) teach functional skills. The results indicate that after 60 days of using SPARK, there is a significant improvement for all the domains. These findings suggest that the use of embodied ABA-based software, such as SPARK, can enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism and facilitate the work of clinicians.


Assessment and Treatment Model to Address Malnutrition, Food Refusal and Highly Food Selectivity

ROSARIA BENINCASA (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Floriana Canniello (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Luigi Iovino (Neapolisanit Center), Maria Gallucci (AIAS Nola), Annapia Mautone (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Rossella Apicella (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center)

Several forced feeding methods are often attempted with ASD children with food selectivity and food refusal. When there is a marked weight loss and malnourishment, tube feedings or intravenous therapy may be prescribed. Although alleviate temporary risk, forced or passive feeding methods do not correct the feeding problem and not increase voluntary consumption. In addition, these methods can increase the risk of generating trauma. To understand problem behaviors the Performance-based IISCA (Iovino et al. 2022) was used supported by IISCA APP. We applied a modified version of the Skill-Based Treatment (Hanley et al., 2014) in a five-week model protocol to treat food selectivity, food refusal and mealtime problem behaviors. Child with ASD, nasogastric (NG) tube, severe food selectivity, chronically refuse food was recruited for the study. This treatment was fully entirely supported by the National Health System. Parenting Stress Index was using to evaluate the magnitude of stress. Social validity was assessed using a 7-point scale. After the treatment, food repertoire increased, number of mealtime problem behaviors decreased, and the NG tube was removed. Treatment effects were successfully transferred to caregivers and other setting. Parents recognized the social validity of the protocol by reporting high satisfaction and lower stress levels.


Parent-Mediated Treatment Model to Addressing Problem Behavior

MARIA GALLUCCI (AIAS Nola), Floriana Canniello (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Luigi Iovino (Neapolisanit Center), MARIA ROSARIA RICCO (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Angela Granada (Neapolisanit Clinical and Research Center), Salvatore VITA (Garage94)

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who exhibit problem behaviors may have experienced trauma during their lives (Darnell et al., 2019; Kerns et al., 2015). We will highlight how the core principles of TIC can be applied to improve the quality of services for assessing and treating problem behaviors, using PFA and some adaptations of SBT (Hanley et al., 2014) in a five-week protocol model. A child diagnosed with ASD and severe problem behaviors participated in this study. The treatment received full support from the Italian National Health System. To understand problem behaviors the Performance-based IISCA was used and SBT protocol was implemented by teaching communication, toleration and cooperation supported by IISCA APP. The protocol was immediately transferred and implemented by the child's parents, later extending to various settings. The Parenting Stress Index was employed to assess stress levels within the parent-child system and social validity was measured on a 7-point scale. The results indicated the protocol's effectiveness in reducing challenging behaviors while enhancing the child's communication, toleration, and cooperation and improving the quality of life of the entire family. Moreover, parents reported satisfaction and acknowledged the social validity of the treatment and reductions in stress levels after the treatment.




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