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 #303
CE Offered: BACB
Treatment of Stereotypical and Challenging Behaviors Associated With Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 28, 2012
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
LL05 (TCC)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Tonya Nichole Davis (Baylor University)
Discussant: Wendy A. Machalicek (University of Oregon)
CE Instructor: Tonya Nichole Davis, Ph.D.

In this symposium we present recent research regarding the treatment of stereotypical and challenging behaviors associated with individuals with developmental disabilities. The first paper examines the effectiveness of a multi-component treatment to reduce problem behaviors associated with behavior inflexibility. Behavior inflexibility can disrupt daily living and learning opportunities. In this study, functional communication training, extinction, and a signal to delayed reinforcement were effective in reducing such behavioral inflexibility. The second paper investigates the effectiveness of a treatment procedure to reduce a self-injurious behavior, which required daily medical treatment for a young child with autism. An attempt to match possible reinforcement properties of the self-injurious behavior resulted in an effective replacement behavior. The third paper evaluates the use of a latency functional analysis to identify the function of elopement among a young boy with an intellectual disability. Functional analysis of elopement is notably difficult due to confounding variables associated with participant retrieval during the assessment process. Latency functional analysis is explored as an alternative functional assessment methodology. Results of the assessment were verified via functional communication training

Keyword(s): behavior inflexibility, developmental disabilities, elopement, self-injury

Treatment of Behavioral Inflexibility in Children With Autism

LESLIE NEELY (Texas A&M University), Mandy J. Rispoli (Texas A&M University)

Insistence on sameness, stereotyped movements, and resistance to change constitute a core diagnostic characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD, American Psychiatry Association, 2000). This lack of behavioral flexibility (Wahlberg & Jordan, 2001) generally interferes in the individuals functional life, and can lead to deficits in problem solving and coping skills (Grenn et al., 2007). If not treated, these inflexible behaviors disrupt the daily life of these children and their families and impede learning opportunities and generalization of skills (Green et al., 2007). Assessment of specific daily situations in which insistence on sameness occurs (Green et al., 2006) and functional analysis of these inflexible behaviors are important aspects to plan and implement an appropriate intervention to promote behavior flexibility. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of functional communication training with extinction and signaled delay to reinforcement on escape-maintained challenging behaviors associated with behavioral inflexibility in young children with autism. Preliminary results show the intervention was effective in reducing behavioral inflexibility and that participants generalized learned replacement behaviors across stimuli.

Treatment of Self-Injurious Behaviors Utilizing Replacement Behaviors
LAURA COVIELLO (Baylor University), Tonya Nichole Davis (Baylor University), Sharon Dacus (Baylor University), Erica Strickland (Baylor University)
Abstract: Self-injurious behavior may be viewed as the most dangerous form of challenging behavior. Not only will such behavior impede functional daily living and learning, it may also pose imminent threat to an individual’s health and well-being. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a replacement behavior on self-injurious behavior. The participant, a young boy with autism, demonstrated a high frequency of placing small objects deep into his ear canal. This behavior resulted in daily visits to a physician for item removal, multiple appointments with medical specialists, countless visits to the emergency room, as well as permanent damage to his ears and hearing. Functional assessment concluded that the self-injurious behavior was automatically maintained. A replacement behavior was selected that appeared to match potential sources of reinforcement provided by the self-injurious behaviors. Results demonstrate that the replacement behavior resulted in a considerable reduction of self-injurious behavior.

Latency Functional Analysis of Elopement

MARY WALTER (Baylor University), Tonya Nichole Davis (Baylor University), Shannon Durand (University of North Texas), Erica Strickland (Baylor University), Kara Blenden (University of Texas at Austin), Sharon Dacus (Baylor University), Alyssa C. Hannig (Baylor University), Megan Haupert (Baylor University)

Elopement is a potentially dangerous problem behavior prevalent among individuals with developmental disabilities. However, functional analysis of elopement presents unique challenges including difficulties identifying and arranging idiosyncratic contextual variables and participant retrieval during functional analysis conditions. In the current study, we implemented a latency functional analysis with an eight-year old child with intellectual disability, in which the dependent measure was latency to elopement. Following the latency functional analysis, a functional communication intervention was developed and its effectiveness in decreasing elopement was evaluated using an ABAB design. Findings suggest that latency functional analysis may be a suitable methodology to identify the operant function of elopement.




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