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 #218
CE Offered: BACB
Expanding the Analytic Methods of Applied Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 26, 2024
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 202 AB
Area: PCH/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Craig A Marrer (Endicott College)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Posey, M.A.
Abstract: In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), innovation and adaptability are driving forces shaping the field. This symposium unites three interconnected studies, collectively exploring the need for an expansion of the methods in ABA. The first study, Playful Dynamics: The Need for Play-Based Assessment in ABA challenges traditional assessment methods. Focusing on a play-based assessment approach underscores the ever-present quest for improved methodologies within ABA assessment as the first step in expanding analytic methods in the field. This is followed by an investigation into how methods utilized in ABA can profoundly impact individuals. “Psychological Flexibility in ABA: A Key to Expanding Analytic Insights explores the interplay between risk-taking behavior and adaptability and how increased psychological flexibility can mitigate risk-taking. Finally, we discuss the potential pitfalls of technical drift. “Avoiding Drift, Fostering Progress: Navigating Analytic Expansion in ABA" delves into the concept of "technical drift," where well-intentioned methodological innovation may inadvertently lead to unintended consequences in ABA practice. It underscores the need for vigilance in preserving the integrity of ABA. This symposium provides a glimpse into the need for an expansion in ABA methodology while carefully navigating the preservation of evidence-based practices.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): assessment, autism, psychological flexibility, technical drift
Target Audience: Behavior analysts should have a basic understanding of basic ABA methodologies including assessment and how various psychological tasks can be utilized to measure behavior. Behavior analysts should also have a working understanding of psychological flexibility and how private events impact overt behavior.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: 1) articulate how play-based assessment methodology may be a more suitable methodology for assessing young learners 2) articulate how risk taking can be mitigated by improvements in psychological flexibility 3) articulate the importance of expanding ABA methods while also safeguarding the field against drift.

Playful Dynamics: The Need for Play-Based Assessment in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

JENNIFER POSEY (Endicott College), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago; Endicott College)

An important element in ABA practice is the development of behavioral change programs that emphasize skill acquisition. This relies upon effective assessment. Effective assessment practice in ABA, particularly as it relates to young children, should include a play-based approach to facilitate the demonstration of skills within their naturally occurring contexts. Yet, there is a dearth within the behavior analytic community of standardized methods in the assessment of skills within the play-based context. Expanding the assessment methods utilized is key for continued growth in the field. This talk explores the development of such an assessment, comparing it with the existing PEAK Comprehensive Assessment (PCA) in capturing the skills of young learners within the play-based context. Data from piloting this assessment across a sampling of over 20 learners with autism and how these data converge and diverge with data captured in the traditional PCA are examined, revealing that greater than 50% of participants performed significantly better in the play context. This demonstrates that assessment within the play context may be more suitable for young learners to demonstrate skills within their repertoire.


Psychological Flexibility in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): A Key to Expanding Analytic Insights

EMMA ISABEL MOON (Endicott College | Contemporary Behavior Consultants), Mark R. Dixon (University of Illinois at Chicago; Endicott College), Fina Robertson (Endicott College, Gardner Public Schools), Craig A Marrer (Endicott College), Jennifer Posey (Endicott College)

The interplay between psychological flexibility and risk-taking behavior is a novel area in which ABA can offer profound methods for decreasing unnecessary risk-taking behavior,, which can be detrimental. This presentation discusses correlations between risk-taking behavior as assessed using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) and psychological flexibility assessed using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) and the Child Psychological Flexibility Questionnaire (CPFQ). Psychological flexibility, the ability to adapt cognitively and emotionally to changing circumstances, plays a pivotal role in shaping how individuals perceive and engage with risk. By fostering psychological flexibility, individuals can navigate novel and challenging situations with resilience and adaptability. ABA intervention’s potential to modulate and mitigate impulsive and harmful decision-making processes is explored by investigating the association between performance on the BART and WCST, as well as responses to the CPFQ. Results indicate negative correlations between psychological flexibility and risk taking behaviors. This discussion uncovers practical implications for ABA practitioners and researchers, as it highlights the opportunities for intervention and the development of behavior analytic methodologies that promote adaptive decision-making while reducing unnecessary risks.


Avoiding Drift, Fostering Progress: Navigating Analytic Expansion in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ALLYSSA MINICK (Endicott College), Jennifer Posey (Endicott College), Emma Isabel Moon (Endicott College | Contemporary Behavior Consultants), Fina Robertson (Endicott College, Gardner Public Schools), Craig A Marrer (Endicott College), Natalie M. Driscoll (Melmark New England & Endicott College)

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) play a pivotal role in recommending treatments for individuals with autism. These recommendations must be firmly grounded in established scientific evidence to ensure optimal care. However, the complex landscape of autism treatment presents unique challenges. This presentation delves into two insightful studies. The first study sheds light on the issue of the use of technical terminology bias and the challenges behavior analysts face in grasping its nuances. These challenges may inadvertently lead to a phenomenon known as technical drift, where terminology evolves in ways that can affect the precision of recommendations over time. The second study explores how the severity of autism symptoms influences the recommendations made by behavior analysts. This single variable can exert a significant impact, potentially causing deviations toward non-evidence-based practices. Expansion of our methodology to include advances in practices and the inclusion of novel technical terms can impact drift over time. This presentation highlights the need for continued vigilance in the field to protect our science from drift.




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