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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #460
CE Offered: BACB
Advances in Understanding and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
302 (TCC)
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mark O'Reilly (University of Texas at Austin)
Discussant: Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota)
CE Instructor: Mark O'Reilly, Ph.D.

Children with autism exhibit deficits in learning and excesses in behavior that challenge educational and family systems. While there is a plethora of research on interventions to teach and support challenging behavior with these children, further research is needed. In this symposium we present 3 studies that advance our knowledge of the education of children with autism and the treatment of challenging behavior. In the first paper, Russell Lang will present research on the use of lag schedules to teach generalized play skills to children with autism. Beyond teaching generalized play skills Lang and colleagues examine the social validity of the skills taught and argue against developmental criticisms of behavioral interventions to teach play. In the second paper, Wendy Machalicek examines the use of functional analysis to assess and treat transition-related challenging behavior in school settings for children. Novel interventions to treat transition-related challenging behavior were examined (multiple schedule arrangements) and are discussed in the context of function-based classroom interventions. Finally, Mandy Rispoli and colleagues examine the embedding of choice arrangements to treat escape-maintained behavior for children with autism. Various choice arrangements were evaluated in comparison to a no choice condition. This function-based choice intervention proved effective in treating challenging behavior with3 children with autism. Finally, the results of these three studies will be analyzed and discussed by Professor Jennifer McComas of the University of Minnesota, a leading international figure in the use of behavioral technology to treat children with autism.


Behavioral Intervention to Improve the Generalization and Diversity of Play Skills in Children With Autism

RUSSELL LANG (Texas State University-San Marcos), Christie Layton (Building Blocs Foundation, Inc.), Brandy Windham (Building Blocs Foundation, Inc.), Mandy J. Rispoli (Texas A&M University), Laura Bernard (Texas State University), Courtney Britt (Texas State University), Katy Davenport (Pflugerville Independant School District)

Children with autism often do not develop typical play skills. Previous research has demonstrated that improvements in play behavior are associated with reduction in stereotypy and improvements in language. However, previous play intervention research has been criticized for not teaching genuine play but instead teaching children to engage in behaviors that merely look like play. Specifically, critics contend that play should be internally motivated, flexible in form, generalize across contexts, and bring joy to the individual playing. This study challenges these criticisms by (a) using lag schedules of reinforcement to target the spontaneous generation of novel play behaviors, (b) assessing generalization of play across toys and, (c) measuring indices of child happiness. An ABACA design in which "B" represents the typical prompting and reinforcement strategies used in behavioral interventions, and "C" represents typical intervention plus lag schedules of reinforcement. The ABACA design is embedded within a larger multiple baseline design across3 participants with autism. Generalization probes were taken during each A phase. Maintenance of play skills was assessed at 4, 6, and 8 weeks. Results demonstrate that play increased and stereotypy decreased for all3 participants. Parent ratings suggest that the children were happier following play intervention.


Functional Analysis and Treatment of Challenging Behavior Associated With Transitions in Classroom Settings

WENDY A. MACHALICEK (University of Oregon)

Children with autism often engage in challenging behavior during transitions (initiation or termination of activity with or without location change). Assessment and treatment is complicated by the possibility of challenging behavior maintained by positive or negative reinforcement. Past research suggests functional analysis of transitions and treatment using differential reinforcement of alternative behavior with extinction can be effective in decreasing challenging behavior (Fisher, Adelinis, Thompson, Worsdell, & Zarcone, 1998; McCord, Thompson, & Iwata, 2001). However, transitions in classrooms are frequent, requiring strategies to increase the frequency of transitions to socially acceptable levels. The present study evaluated the (a) use of classroom-based functional analysis of transitions, (b) effectiveness of functional communication training with extinction to decrease challenging behavior associated with transitions, and (c) effects of two-component multiple-schedule arrangements (Hanley, Iwata, & Thompson, 2001) to progressively increase the frequency of difficult transitions for 3 school-age children with autism. This is an extension of clinic-based structured descriptive assessment and treatment of challenging behavior (see graph). Although challenging behavior decreased within session, all children continued to experience difficulty transitioning from preferred to nonpreferred activities. The results of this study could further the functional analysis and treatment of transition related challenging behavior in classroom settings.


A Comparison of Within-Task and Across Task Choice on Challenging Behavior for Children With Autism

MANDY J. RISPOLI (Texas A&M University), Russell Lang (Texas State University-San Marcos), Leslie Neely (Texas A&M University), Siglia P. H. Camargo (Texas A&M University), Nancy Hutchins (Texas A&M University), Katy Davenport (Pflugerville Independant School District)

Students with autism spectrum disorders often engage in challenging behavior, which can present unique challenges to teachers in schools. Behavior maintained by negative reinforcement is one of the most common functions of challenging behavior in individuals with disabilities (Derby et al., 1992; Iwata et al., 1994). Escape maintained behavior can lead to negative outcomes including limited time spent engaged in instruction, placement in more restrictive setting, and loss of opportunity for social interaction (Horner, Albin, Sprague, & Todd, 2000). One means of preventing challenging behavior is through the use of choice. Such interventions involve providing the student with a choice of which task to complete (across task choice) or how to complete a task (within-task choice). The purpose of this study was to compare these types of choice on challenging behavior using a reversal with an embedded alternating treatments single case research design. Three boys and1 girl with autism participated in this study. Data were taken on rate of challenging behavior during each instructional condition. Results showed that both types of choice reduced challenging below the no-choice condition levels and that across task choice produced the lowest rates of challenging behavior for all four participants.




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