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 #45
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Improving Family Well-Being and Engagement in Services Through Behavior Analytic Treatments
Saturday, May 25, 2024
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 12-13
Area: CBM/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tonya LeAnn Lambert Delp (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment)
Discussant: Emily Callahan (Centria Healthcare)
CE Instructor: Tonya LeAnn Lambert Delp, Ph.D.

Families with one or more children diagnosed with autism tend to experience higher levels of stress as compared to families with neurotypical children. It is widely believed that access to services, particularly applied behavior analysis (ABA) caregiver training, aids in decreasing stressors. In fact, caregivers who are highly stressed are less likely to seek services, less able to engage in learning behavioral strategies and, instead, research indicates stress often increases as a result of caregiver training alone. Additionally, this familial stress is not limited to parents and caregivers, but siblings of diagnosed individuals also tend to report decreased life satisfaction and increased likelihood of experiencing feelings of anxiety and engaging aggressive behaviors. Throughout this symposium the presenters will demonstrate the efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT), two behaviorally based therapeutic strategies, targeting parent engagement and sibling relationships. Results from these studies indicate these interventions may benefit overall family well-being, increase access to services, and improve fidelity with behavioral interventions.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): ACT, family supports, PCIT, service engagement
Target Audience:

This presentation is appropriate for graduate students or BCBAs with an interest in expanding their skillsets. ACT and PCIT are reliant on in the moment modifications to practice and, ACT in particular, is most effective when clinicians have a grasp of functional analysis of verbal behavior. Individuals with emerging to fluent skills in these are most likely to benefit from this presentation.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1) Describe the utility of behavior analytic treatments for family members of those with a neurodiverse child. 2) Assess for family stressors and identify targets for intervention. 3) Explain the need for holistic, system-based treatment for improved child outcomes.

Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Increase Parent's Value-Based Behaviors: Mindful Parenting via Group Telehealth

TONYA LEANN LAMBERT DELP (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment), Shonnet R. Brand (VIA Centers for Neurodevelopment)

A growing body of literature demonstrates the effectiveness of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for improving parent stress and parent-child relationships. One potential use of ACT is through telehealth groups as a means to build support networks and increase accessibility. While curriculum has been developed and demonstrated effectiveness for individual intervention, in current practice we aim to determine if the same curriculum may also be effective in group intervention meeting via telehealth. To date, participants include 12 parents of neurodiverse children who participated in a 6-week virtual series to increase individually identified value-based behaviors. Outcomes measured include parent stress, mindful engagement, social validity of the intervention, and subsequent access to other evidence-based interventions and supports. Initial findings indicate an overall improvement in stress and mindfulness for most participants. Modifications to the curriculum based on social validity feedback and observed outcomes will be discussed. These results are encouraging that such interventions may aid in decreasing parent stress and ultimately increasing engagement in evidence-based practices to support the needs of themselves and their children.

Exploring Virtual Group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Format on Participation of Parents of Autistic Children
ABIGAIL MORETTI (Rowan University), Christina Simmons (Rowan University)
Abstract: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is particularly suited for parents of children with autism whose children engage in challenging behavior due to poor overall well-being in this population. Virtual ACT groups have been used to reduce accessibility barriers and improve social connectedness; however, the length of intervention time may impact parents’ participation. A preliminary investigation examined the feasibility of a 6-week virtual ACT group intervention. Despite improvements in well-being, 70% of participants did not complete all study components. The current study examines the impact of intervention format on participation by randomizing parents into one of three different virtual ACT group formats: a 6-hour workshop, three 2-hour weekly sessions, or six 1-hour weekly sessions. Participants include 36 parents of autistic children with co-occurring challenging behavior who receive 6 hours of the virtual ACT group intervention and individually participate in two virtual parent training sessions to learn and practice behavioral intervention techniques. Outcomes include retention, format preference, change in well-being, and correct implementation of behavioral intervention techniques. Findings suggesting individual caregiver preferences and needs can inform future intervention models and increase access to this intervention for a wider range of parents, which can ultimately improve outcomes for both parents and children.
Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Outcomes: A Mixed-Method Investigation
JOCELYN STOKES (West Virginia University School of Medicine), Erinn Victory (West Virginia University), Lindsay Druskin (West Virginia University), Sharon Phillips (West Virginia University), Robin Han (West Virginia University), Anishka Jean (West Virginia University), Jennifer Kirby (Marshall University), Cheryl B. McNeil (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Families affected by opioid misuse have demonstrated higher rates of harsh parenting, attachment concerns, abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These effects are often compounded by opioid use during pregnancy, potentially leading to detrimental cognitive, psychomotor, and behavioral outcomes for the child. Parenting children with disruptive behaviors often leads to increased parenting stress, which may further exacerbate negative parenting behaviors and hinder caregiver substance use recovery efforts. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an evidence-based intervention for children ages 2 to 7 years and their caregivers that aims to improve parent-child relationships and child disruptive behaviors. The present study evaluated the effectiveness of PCIT for families impacted by the opioid crisis using a mixed-methods design. Treatment outcomes for 74 families affected by the opioid crisis and 78 families not affected by the opioid crisis were compared. Both groups demonstrated statistically significant improvements in positive parenting behavior, negative parenting behavior, and child disruptive behavior, despite most cases not completing treatment. There were no significant differences in treatment outcomes between groups, suggesting that PCIT is effective for families affected by the opioid crisis. Qualitative findings are presented detailing the experiences of the families affected by the opioid crisis.

Exploring Sibling Interventions and Coaching for Children With Neurodevelopmental Disorders

AVA SARDONI (James Madison University (alumni)), Trevor F. Stokes (James Madison University)

One of the most important predictors of success for a child with a Neurodevelopmental Disorder (NDD) is the support from the family system. Siblings of a child with an NDD are often neglected from the conversation of support and treatment; however, challenging behaviors often associated with NDDs can have a significant impact on the sibling relationship, which could result in a compromised quality of life for all siblings. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) have both shown to be efficacious in producing positive outcomes for children with NDDs and their families.The current study expanded PCIT and ABA research to the NDD population, by documenting how siblings can effectively learn and utilize the Child-Directed Interaction (CDI) skills of PCIT to help strengthen the sibling relationship with a child with an NDD. Participants included two sibling dyads in which one sibling was Autistic, and their older sibling was neurotypical. Outcomes include neurotypical sibling’s correct implementation of CDI skills during ten-minute play sessions, and parent and sibling reports of feasibility and relevance of the sibling intervention. Findings suggest that sibling’s participation in treatment, and the impact on the relationship, can inform future sibling interventions for children with NDDs.




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