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 #397
CE Offered: BACB
The Seasons Change: Exploring the Use of Virtual Reality in the Practice of Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 27, 2024
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 103 A
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Einar T. Ingvarsson (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment)
Discussant: Berglind Sveinbjornsdottir (Reykjavik University)
CE Instructor: Einar T. Ingvarsson, Ph.D.
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly being used in various fields for multiple purposes, including training, assessment, and intervention. It is virtually certain that its application will continue to increase in the foreseeable future. VR-based procedures have the potential to contribute to the efficiency, practicality, and safety of behavior analytic services. The current symposium includes three research studies and one systematic review evaluating different ways in which VR may be used to enhance assessment and intervention. First, Bronte Reidinger will present a study on a VR-based parent training program. Second, Armen Gushchyan will describe research on automated VR training of functional analysis procedures for pre-service clinicians. Third, Katie Kariel will present a study evaluating the acquisition and generalization of peer social skills taught through a VR modality. Fourth, Ellie Kazemi will describe the results of a systematic literature review of VR and AI (artificial intelligence) interventions for skill building. And last but not least, Berglind Sveinbjörnsdóttir will provide discussant‘s comments.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): functional analysis, parent training, social skills, virtual reality
Target Audience: Knowledge of basic principles and common procedures of applied behavior analysis (e.g., early career BCBA).
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe the benefits and limitations of utilizing VR in ABA interventions; (2) describe how to measure and program for generalization of skills acquired through VR-based instruction; and (3) describe ways to program for skill acquisition while utilizing VR environments.
Acceptability and Usability of a Virtual Reality Parent Training to Teach Behavior Analytic Intervention Skills
BRONTE REIDINGER (Rowan University), Christina Simmons (Rowan University), Patrice Tremoulet (Rowan University), George Lecakes (Rowan University), Garrett Williams (Rowan University), Amanda Almon (Rowan University)
Abstract: Unsafe and interfering behavior in autistic children presents challenges for the child and their family. Although parent training in behavioral interventions can be effective in increasing alternative behaviors and decreasing challenging behaviors, many parents encounter barriers accessing training (e.g., time, transportation) and in the quality of training received (e.g., insufficient and unrealistic practice). This study aims to address some of these challenges by developing and pilot testing a virtual reality (VR) training program for parents, with input from parents, autistic individuals, and clinicians. The program includes five “levels” of evidence-based behavioral skills (prompting, differential reinforcement and extinction, functional communication training, schedule thinning, and a treatment challenge). In this study, behavior therapists with experience conducting parent training pilot tested each level. For each level, 12 participants completed an in-person baseline of clinical skills, pilot tested the VR training, and completed an in-person posttest. Data on acceptability, usability, and implementation of behavioral interventions before, during, and after VR training will be presented for all levels. Preliminary data indicates that participants found the program acceptable and usable and improved in intervention implementation. These preliminary data suggest that VR may be a beneficial tool for mitigating barriers and effectively teaching behavioral interventions to parents.
Automated Virtual Reality Training of Functional Analysis Procedures for Pre-Service Clinicians
ARMEN GUSHCHYAN (Utah State University), Casey J. Clay (Utah State University), John Robert Budde (Children’s Hospital of Orange County)
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) offers several useful applications for behavior analysts in clinical and training positions. VR training has been shown to be effective in other fields including medicine and industry. One application for behavior analysts is the use of fully immersive training environments for stakeholders trying to reduce challenging behavior and increase adaptive behavior skills. This project includes data-based demonstration in which a fully immersive VR simulation was used to build assessment skills for challenging behavior. Specifically, the study includes outcomes of an automated training for pre-service behavior analysts on how to conduct functional analysis for challenging behavior in a fully immersive virtual environment. Researchers found VR automated training was effective in increasing baseline rates of performance for all participants. Post-training probes revealed pre-service clinicians could conduct 66% of conditions to above 90% correct mastery. In-vivo feedback by a trainer was delivered and all participants conducted all functional analysis sessions at mastery levels. Further, generalization of assessment skills was seen in a non-VR in-vivo environment at mastery levels for all participants.

Examining the Effects of Virtual Reality (VR) Instruction on the Acquisition and Generalization of Peer Social Skills

KATHLEEN KARIEL (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment), Einar T. Ingvarsson (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment), Rachel Metras (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment), Lydia A Beahm (Clemson University), Diana S. Smith (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment), Anna-Rochelle Anderson (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment), Christine Oliver (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment)

Applied behavior analysts are increasingly exploring the utility of virtual reality (VR) based interventions. Much of the published research on VR within ABA has focused on training staff and treatment implementers; however, VR also holds promise as an intervention component for clients and consumers of ABA services, including those with ASD. The current study includes young children with ASD and involves measuring acquisition of peer social skills within a VR environment (using Floreo® virtual therapy) as well as generalization to “real world” setting with live peers. Results for two boys (6 and 9 years old) show acquisition of peer social skills (greetings, joining or initiating conversation, and inviting peers to join a group) within the VR environment with minimal experimenter-implemented prompting and reinforcement. Generalization to real-life peers during initial probe measures was variable, but brief in-situ training resulted in mastery-level performance in all cases. Data collection is underway with additional participants.


Stepping Into the Future: Exploring the VRvolution and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Skill Building

ELLIE KAZEMI (Behavior Science Technology (BST) & CSUN), An An Chang (California State University, Northridge), Matthew Davies (California State University, Northridge), Vahe Esmaeili (California State University, Northridge)

We conducted a systematic literature review exploring the effectiveness of Virtual Reality (VR) Training, as well as interventions including artificial intelligence (AI) components. Out of the 1,357 articles related to VR and AI, only 18 met our inclusionary criteria, which included measurement of training outcomes that were observable and measurable. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of the articles we reviewed, including the participant demographics, experimental design, the skills taught, the methods of measurement used (including generality measures), the components of behavior skills training (BST) that were commonly incorporated, and the inclusion of components of simulation-based training (e.g., degree of immersion, type of human-AI interaction, multiple exemplars, and data presentation capability). I will also discuss the generality of the results and participants’ reports of social validity in the context of the future of skill development and simulation-based training. I will conclude with a discussion of avenues for future research and implications for practice.




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