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 #266
CE Offered: BACB
Advancing Functional Analysis Technology Through Innovative Experimental Analysis
Sunday, May 25, 2008
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Area: TPC/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Robert LaRue (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center)
Discussant: F. Charles Mace (University of Southern Maine)
CE Instructor: Michael E. Kelley, Ph.D.

The functional analysis methodology developed by Iwata et al. (1982/1994) advanced the field of behavior analysis in several ways. First, it decreased dependence on arbitrarily selected treatments that functioned by superimposing strong positive/negative reinforcement/punishment operations on unidentified reinforcement contingencies. Second, it linked conceptual systems (first described by Carr, 1977) to problems of social significance. Finally, it produced hundreds of replication and extension studies that have advanced the field of behavior analysis along the dimensions outlined by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968). The current symposium includes three studies that further advance the field by conceptually extending functional analysis technology. In the first study, LaRue et al. conducted a version of functional analysis methodology that reduced the time required to identify a function and obtained high correspondence between procedures. In the second study, Kelley et al. demonstrated that the symptoms of bi-polar disorder were accounted for by experimental analyses. Finally, Malley et al. showed both experimental evidence of a response-class hierarchy and an innovative way of proactively intervening when access to preferred stimuli was denied. Together, these studies advance the functional analysis technology and provide a foundation for future research on experimental analysis of severe behavior disorders.

Comparison of Analogue and Discrete-Trial Methodologies for Conducting Functional Analyses.
ROBERT LARUE (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center), Karen L. Lenard (Center for Outreach & Services for the Autism Community of New Jersey), Meredith Bamond (Rutgers University), Mark Palmeiri (Rutgers University), Mary Jane Weiss (Rutgers University), Michael E. Kelley (University of Southern Maine)
Abstract: Analogue functional analysis is considered to be the most accurate procedure for determining the function of maladaptive behavior (Hanley et al., 2003). However, the time and expertise required to conduct functional analyses has made their use in public schools prohibitive. As a result, brief models of functional analysis have emerged. One such model was proposed by Sigafoos and Saggers (1995). In their study, the researchers used two minute functional analysis conditions (1 minute test, 1 minute control) to evaluate the function of a maladaptive behavior for two students with autism. The current investigation sought to compare a traditional model of functional analysis (e.g., Iwata et al., 1982/1994) and a brief, discrete-trial model of functional analysis similar to procedures used by Sigafoos and Saggers (1995). Five students, aged 8 to 30, were included in the current evaluation. Students were exposed to traditional functional analyses and to the discrete trial analysis. Results indicate that there was correspondence across models for all students. In addition, the discrete trial procedure took considerably less time than traditional FA procedures (80% reduction in session time). Results are discussed in terms of compliance with the IDEA Amendments of 1997 and the social validity of functional analysis in schools.
Experimental Analysis Accounts for the Symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorders.
MICHAEL E. KELLEY (University of Southern Maine), Valerie M. Volkert (The Marcus Institute), Blair Parker Hicks (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Indirect assessment techniques (e.g., interviews, rating scales) are often used for intervention selection because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to administer, despite evidence that direct assessment may produce more reliable and valid information. A specific type of indirect assessment, physician interview, often produces diagnoses that lead to medicinal intervention. In the current study, a 7-year-old female was diagnosed with childhood bi-polar disorder. Treatment included a medication regimen that was ineffective in reducing the presenting symptoms that led to the diagnoses. A series of experimental analyses demonstrated the target behaviors were influenced by environmental manipulations. Results support the use of direct, experimental analyses for both confirming structural diagnostic techniques and prescribing intervention.
Two Methods of "Saying No" that Avoid an Escalating Response Class Hierarchy.
JAMIE MALLEY (University of Southern Maine), Kevin Lee Prager (MCCD/ASAT), Elaine Carolan (University of Southern Maine), F. Charles Mace (University of Southern Maine)
Abstract: Restricting an individual’s access to preferred stimuli may be interpreted as a motivating operation that increases the value of the restricted stimuli and evokes behaviors that historically have produced access to those stimuli. Among young children and individuals with developmental disabilities, the evoked behaviors may constitute a response class hierarchy of increasingly challenging behaviors. The present study compared the evocative effects of three alternative methods of denying access to a preferred activity by measuring the occurrence and escalation of oppositional, disruptive, and aggressive behaviors in one child with developmental disabilities. Latency to the first occurrence of each target behavior was measured to determine the temporal sequence or hierarchy in which the behaviors comprising the participant’s response class occurred, and the percentage of 10-second intervals in which the target behaviors occurred was measured to evaluate the relative evocative effects of the three methods of restricting access. An analysis of the participant’s response class hierarchy during four baseline sessions was followed by a counterbalanced alternating treatments design, and the replication of this sequence resulted in an ABAB experimental design. During the baseline condition of this functional behavior assessment, the participant was denied access to a preferred activity and offered a brief explanation for the restriction. In each of the baseline sessions, access to the preferred activity was delivered contingent upon a different target behavior or withheld completely. Baseline results revealed the emergence of a stable response class hierarchy under these conditions of restricted access. The second phase of the study presented two alternative approaches to restricting the participant’s access to the preferred activity: (a) denying access, offering a brief explanation for the restriction, and then presenting an alternative activity and (b) denying access until the participant fulfilled a demand requirement. Relative to baseline, both alternative approaches for restricting access to the preferred activity were shown to yield fewer evocative effects on challenging behaviors. Implications of these results are discussed in terms of proactive behavior management practices and novel methodologies for the conduct of functional behavior assessments.



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