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 #253
Practical Approaches for Improving Health and Wellness in Individuals With Autism
Sunday, May 26, 2024
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 B
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Eileen M. Roscoe, Ph.D.

Two important aspects in promoting one’s health and wellness are to consistently engage in an adequate duration of sleep and physical activity. However, research has shown that individuals with ASD often display difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep (Krakowiak et al., 2008) and many of these individuals do not meet the CDC recommendations for physical activity engagement (Jones et al., 2017). In the current symposium, three speakers will present practical strategies for addressing these issues. In the first paper, Zoe Newman will present research on a treatment analysis for improving sleep-conducive behavior in a residential care facility. Zoe assessed levels of sleep-conducive behavior via a Fitbit watch, preventing the need for overnight live or video data collection. For the second presentation, Holly Wiggins will present data on a training for teaching individuals to self-monitor their physical activity. Following competency, Holly will share results from a treatment analysis that evaluated the relative contributions of self-monitoring for increasing physical activity engagement. In the third paper, Emily Pollack will present data on an intervention that evaluated the delivery of social attention for increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Emily will also share data on the effects of increased physical activity on individuals’ on-task behavior in a classroom context.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): on-task, physical activity, self-monitoring, sleep
Target Audience:

Target Audience: Practicing BCBAs or behavior analytic researchers who are interested in learning about various intervention strategies for promoting sleep and physical activity engagement.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe various interventions for promoting sleep-conducive behavior that can be conducted in a residential group home for individuals with autism (2) describe how to teach self-monitoring using video and in-vivo training components and subsequently incorporate self-monitoring in an intervention to increase physical activity in individuals with autism (3) describe an intervention involving the use of attention for increasing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and assessing its effects on on-task behavior in a classroom context

A Practical Treatment for Improving Sleep-Conducive Behavior in a Residential Care Setting

ZOE A. D. NEWMAN (Regis College Autism Center), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children), Emily Stevens (The Autism Community Therapists, LLC), Shannon Campbell (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)

Individuals with autism often display long latencies to sleep onset or suboptimal durations of sleep. Sleep is often correlated with increases in challenging behavior (Goldman et al., 2011; Kennedy & Meyer, 1996) such as aggression (O’Reilly, 1995) and hyperactivity (Mazurek & Sohl, 2016). Although behavioral interventions have been effective in treating these problems for individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g., Jin et al., 2013), the necessary and sufficient components of a sleep treatment have not been identified. The purpose of this study was to assess multiple components of a sleep treatment package for three individuals with autism living in a residential congregate-care setting. Data were collected on sleep-conducive behavior, defined as displaying minimal movement, using a Fitbit. Treatment components were sequentially introduced and included bedtime fading, bedtime routine, a sound machine, and delayed reinforcement with contingency review. Participants were adolescents who showed long latencies to sleep-conducive behavior following bedtime. For all participants, results showed that a bedtime routine alone was insufficient for improving sleep-conducive behavior. A contingency review with delayed reinforcement was an effective treatment component for two participants. Social validity surveys were conducted with clinicians and residential counselors to assess treatment goals, procedures, outcomes.

An Evaluation of Self-Monitoring for Increasing Physical Activity
HOLLY WIGGINS (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Eileen M. Roscoe (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children who obtain at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day show improved bone health, better academic performance, and reduced symptoms of depression (CDC, 2016). Given the importance of increasing exercise for improved health outcomes, behavior analysts should consider increased physical activity as a therapeutic goal. Although self-monitoring has been demonstrated to be effective at increasing physical activity within a multicomponent intervention, the relative efficacy of self-monitoring alone for increasing physical activity is unknown. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to extend upon the self-monitoring and physical activity literature by evaluating a systematic training procedure. Further, we conducted a component analysis of self-monitoring for increasing physical activity that evaluated self- monitoring alone prior to and subsequent to the self-monitoring training. Three individuals with autism participated in the study. If self-monitoring alone was ineffective at increasing physical activity, additional reinforcement components were evaluated. If multiple interventions were effective at increasing physical activity, a treatment preference assessment was conducted to identify the participant’s most preferred intervention.
Social Attention as Method to Increase Physical Activity: Effects on Academic Engagement
EMILY POLLACK (University of Georgia, Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research), Alexandra N. Mercado Baez (Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research; University of Georgia), Kevin Ayres (Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research; University of Georgia), Joel Eric Ringdahl (Center for Autism and Behavioral Education Research; University of Georgia)
Abstract: Previous behavior analytic research has demonstrated that antecedent moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during leisure time leads to subsequent on-task behavior in classroom settings (Harbin et al., 2022; Luke et al., 2014). This relation between activity and academic performance suggests that identifying methods for increasing MVPA exhibited by students has academic relevance. The present study conducted two related, concurrent experiments. Experiment 1 replicated previous research showing that social attention increased students' MVPA. Given the increases in MVPA observed by the participants from Experiment 1, Experiment 2 evaluated whether that increase in MVPA corresponded with increased on-task behavior during subsequent academic instruction time. Results indicated that, as with previous research findings, participants engaged in higher levels of MVPA relative to baseline when social attention was provided. However, increased MVPA did not correspond with increased subsequent on-task behavior. Results are discussed with respect to their implications for movement, academic performance, and relation to previous findings.



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