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 #296
CE Offered: BACB
Towards a New Definition of Comprehensive Service: Socially Valid Behavior Analytic Supports for Autistic Teens, Adults, and Their Families
Sunday, May 26, 2024
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 B
Area: AUT/CBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Jesse Logue (LittleStar ABA Therapy)
CE Instructor: Jesse Logue, Ph.D.

Autism has a long history of successful therapeutic intervention using the techniques of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with children (e.g.,Eldevik et al., 2009; Virues-Ortega, 2010). However, autism has a heterogeneous symptom presentation, associated with a wide range of challenges, comorbid conditions, and supports required over time. Therefore, interventions must be appropriately tailored for the needs of this varied population. Unfortunately, most research has continued to focus primarily on ABA therapy for very young children with similar symptom presentations in center or home-based settings. Thus, an increased focused on service offerings for those with milder symptom presentations, as well as interventions for adolescents and adults are warranted (Tseng et al., 2020). Additionally, increased attention is needed toward autism’s impact on the family, with research indicating that the presence of autism in the family unit may affect the mental health and adjustment of parents and siblings (Griffith et al., 2014). In this symposium, we will address the significant need for services that go beyond the traditional comprehensive therapy of ABA, and we will outline a progressive model for offering a variety of low-intensity therapeutic supports targeting not only the autistic patient, but the entire family unit.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Adult Support, Low-Intensity, Sibling groups, Social Skills
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts within their first 5 years of practice, practitioners, supervisors, and senior leaders.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) outline at least 2 practical strategies for incorporating low-intensity supports into current ABA service models, (2) discuss 2-3 components of effective support programs for siblings and caregivers, and (3) provide 3 considerations for utilizing ACT-based principles with autistic patients
Addressing the "Service Cliff" for Autistic Teens and Adults Through the Provision of Low Intensity Supports
JENNIFER BAKER (LittleStar ABA Therapy ), Karyssa Patrick (LittleStar ABA Therapy)
Abstract: Significant research has been conducted to examine the efficacy of high intensity (30+ hours a week) ABA services for children and teens with autism spectrum disorder (e.g., Virues-Ortega, 2010). However, few studies explore the effectiveness of very low intensity interventions for adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. This presentation will outline a model for focused social skills treatment for autistic adolescents and adults, including implementation processes, staff training, and recommendations for billing within an ABA model. We will emphasize the importance of socially valid intervention through ongoing assent-based practice, strengths-based assessments, and self-report social validity questionnaires. Outcomes from social skills groups that were conducted utilizing a combination of didactic instruction, role playing, video modeling, and a parent training component via the Program for the Evaluation and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) (Laugeson et al., 2015) curriculum will be discussed. This presentation will emphasize that socially significant improvements in specific skills can be obtained with only 90 minutes per week of social skills instruction.
Focus on Family: How to Increase Therapeutic Supports for Siblings and Caregivers of Autistic Individuals
LAURYN TOBY (LittleStar ABA Therapy)
Abstract: A plethora of research exists indicating the presence of increased stress and mental health challenges for siblings and caregivers of autistic individuals. Unfortunately, therapeutic supports for this population typically fall short. Siblings are particularly at risk for developing internalizing difficulties such as anxiety and depression (e.g., Lovell & Wetherell, 2016; Petalas et al., 2009). Further, caregivers of autistic children experience greater stress than parents of typically developing children and parents of children with other types of disabilities (e.g., Padden & James, 2017; Schiltz et al., 2018). Increased stress levels can impact parenting style, child attachment, and lead to a higher incidence of depression in caregivers (Chan et al., 2018). Support groups may be one way to mitigate the difficulties associated with having an autistic family member, with research suggesting that such groups may act as a buffer towards self-reported anxiety and depression (Tudor & Lerner, 2015). However, little guidance exists as to how to develop these needed wraparound supports for caregivers and siblings within a typical ABA therapy provider infrastructure. This presentation will introduce a model for developing therapeutic support services within an ABA organization that are designed to serve the entire family unit.
Addressing the Comorbid Mental Health Needs of Autistic Children Using an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Framework
Abstract: Many autistic individuals who present with non-traditional symptomology struggle with comorbid social and mental health challenges, and there is a paucity of service providers available to support their needs (Tseng et al., 2020). Research shows that many autistic children struggle to benefit from traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and other talk therapy techniques (Cooper et. Al, 2018). Fortunately, principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are within the scope of practice for ABA practitioners and have been proven to be effective in ABA interventions for autistic children who demonstrate higher levels of verbal behavior (Tarbox et. al, 2020). This presentation will outline the use of the AIM (Accept, Identify, Move) curriculum - a fusion of mindfulness, ABA, and ACT approaches - to simultaneously address the maintaining variables of challenging behavior while increasing adaptive, flexible behavior and thought patterns of autistic children. Recommendations for incorporating an ACT treatment model into service delivery will be provided, along with implementation logistics and guidelines. An emphasis will be placed on the importance of ongoing assent during the treatment process, seeking to achieve socially significant results.



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Modifed by Eddie Soh