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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #176
CE Offered: BACB
Innovative Approaches to Antecedent Management: Use of Behavioral Relaxation
Sunday, May 25, 2008
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Continental C
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: James T. Ellis (Melmark New England)
Discussant: Frank L. Bird (Melmark New England)
CE Instructor: Frank L. Bird, M.Ed.

Behavioral relaxation training has been shown to be an effective technique to reduce severe, challenging behaviors and teach appropriate alternative behaviors. This technique used in combination with modeling, feedback, and reinforcement is a powerful behavior change procedure. The purpose of the present symposium is to share findings from three case studies in which behavioral relaxation was included as part of a multicomponent intervention package. Positive findings resulted in each example suggesting that individuals with autism may be taught to use behavior relaxation techniques as an antecedent management strategy.

Relaxation Training as a Procedure to Reduce Active Resistance during Intervention.
JOANNE COUGHLIN (Melmark New England)
Abstract: In settings that serve individuals with significant dangerous behaviors, physical intervention may be necessary in order to ensure safety. Given the restrictive nature of these procedures and the risk of injury, other approaches may be preferred. Research suggests that relaxation training is an effective technique to reduce challenging behaviors and may serve to decrease staff physical involvement. The purpose of the present study was to introduce an alternative means of de-escalating intense challenging behaviors with physical intervention through the training of relaxation techniques. An 18-year-old man diagnosed with autism, PTSD, and a mood disorder participated in the study. The relaxation training package consisted of positive practice during which the participant was taught to request time to lie on a mat. Over a three-month period, reinforcement was delivered contingent on relaxation initiation and to shape appropriate positioning and relaxation techniques. This treatment package wareplicated across settings. Relaxation training resulted in a significant decrease in the percentage of procedures requiring physical intervention by staff compared to baseline. Implications will be discussed in light of the risks and benefits for the participation in relaxation training.
Longitudinal Study Addressing the Tantrum Behavior of a Child with Autism and Landau Kleffner Syndrome.
KERI BUTTERS (Melmark New England)
Abstract: In order to be effective change agents, behavior analysts must address the numerous, multi-faceted variables in long-term behavior management. The present study assessed the effects of a multicomponent treatment package implemented across a six year period on the tantrum behavior of an eight-year-old male diagnosed with autism and moderate Landau Kleffner Syndrome. Upon admission, the participant exhibited an average of 24 tantrum episodes per month, for an average of 124 minutes per month. Subsequent to a functional assessment, a treatment package consisting of functional communication training and antecedent management strategies (e.g., relaxation training) was implemented across two settings. The participant was taught to request a break by pointing to an icon. During the break, the participant relaxed in a preferred chair and engaged in incompatible, calming behavior. Over the six year period of treatment implementation, tantrum behavior showed a general decreasing trend with reductions to near zero levels. Interobserver agreement percentages over the past 15 months averaged 100 percent. These findings were maintained over time.
Use of Behavioral Relaxation and Time-Out Procedures to Decrease Challenging Behaviors.
HELENA L. MAGUIRE (Melmark New England)
Abstract: Behavioral relaxation procedures have been shown to be an effective means to teach adaptive behaviors to children and adults with special needs who would benefit from specific strategies to decrease challenging behaviors. In the present study, an eleven- year-old individual diagnosed with autism and severe language impairment was taught to engage in specific relaxation procedures during positive trial sessions followed by prompted trials when defined target problem behaviors were demonstrated. In conjunction with the relaxation procedures, time-out procedures were used in an effort to decrease aggressive and self- injurious behaviors. Over the course of two years, findings revealed a significant decrease in target behaviors and an increase in adaptive behaviors (e.g., increased communicative requests to relax prior to displaying targeted behaviors). Implications for these findings as well as a discussion of classroom-based implementation will conclude the presentation.



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