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 #343
Assessment and Treatment of Biologically-Based Problem Behavior
Monday, May 26, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Stevens 1
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joel Eric Ringdahl (The University of Iowa)
Abstract: Individuals with certain genetic and other medical conditions display an increased likelihood of problem behavior including impulsive behavior, aggression, and self-injurious behavior. In this symposium, four papers will be presented describing behavior analytic approaches to the assessment and treatment of problem behavior displayed by individuals with traumatic brain injury, Lesch-Nyhan, Donnai-Barrow, and Joubert syndromes, and Short Chain Hydroxy Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (SCHAD). In addition, each paper will provide an overview of the medical or genetic condition of the participants described.
Assessment and Treatment of Biologically-Based Problem Behavior: Is Impulsivity a Defining Characteristic of Brain Injury?
SARAH M. DUNKEL-JACKSON (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Impulsivity is a defining characteristic of brain injury and the new repertoire of the person with brain injury is often deemed a product of altered biology. While impulsivity is considered common in this population, behaviorally-based interventions have been successful at reducing this proclivity towards suboptimal choice making. The present study examined the possibility of illusory choice making on the preference between small immediate and large delayed reinforcers in adolescents with brain injury. Initially all participants were asked to complete a motor task in the absence of any programmed reinforcement. Following this initial assessment, participants were presented the choice between smaller immediate and larger delayed reinforcers. Finally, participants were given a choice between (a) an immediate, small reinforcer with no task requirement, (b) a delayed reinforcer with the larger magnitude determined by the participant’s dice roll with task requirement, or (c) a delayed reinforcer with the larger magnitude determined by the experimenter’s dice roll with task requirement. Results and implications will be discussed regarding the role of reinforcer magnitude and illusionary control.
Assessment and Treatment of Biologically-Based Severe Behavior Problems: Lesch-Nyahn and Donnai-Barrow Syndromes.
CAITLIN SMITH (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Henry S. Roane (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Kelly J. Bouxsein (Munroe-Meyer Institute), Tyree L. Starks (Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: In many cases destructive behavior (e.g. aggression, self-injurious behavior) may have an operant function in that the occurrence of the behavior is influenced by various reinforcement contingencies. Treatment of such behavior often involves the manipulation of the maintaining reinforcement contingency. With some individuals, however, there may be an underlying biological basis that influences the occurrence of aberrant behavior. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss two cases of biologically based destructive behavior displayed among individuals with distinct genetic disorders. In the first case, a child with Lesch-Nyhan syndrome exhibited self-injurious self-biting and in the second case a child with Donnai-Barrow syndrome exhibited self-injurious head-hitting. Functional analyses were conducted with both participants, which produced inconclusive results. Treatment procedures were then developed that included noncontingent presentation of alternative sources of reinforcement with and without a response reduction procedure. For both cases, the provision of environmental stimulation reduced the occurrence of destructive behavior relative to baseline levels of behavior. Across all analyses, reliability data were collected for at least 25% of sessions. The results will be discussed in terms of considerations for behavioral analysts working with clients with genetic disorders and biologically based destructive behavior.
Assessment and Treatment of Biologically-Based Severe Behavior Problems: Joubert Syndrome.
JEFFREY R. LUKE (The University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (The University of Iowa), Todd G. Kopelman (The University of Iowa), Tory J. Christensen (The University of Iowa)
Abstract: A child with Joubert Syndrome was referred for evaluation and treatment of severe self-injurious behavior. The results of a functional analysis suggested the SIB was maintained by automatic reinforcement and treatment focused on providing differential access to alternative stimuli. This presentation will focus on some of the presenting features of Joubert Syndrome, including an overview of the incidence of severe problem behavior in this population, and the application of current ABA-based assessment and treatment of the child's severe problem behavior. Interobserver agreement was collected for at least 20% of the sessions conducted and the mean agreement was not less than 90% percent across sessions.
Assessment and Treatment of Biologically-Based Severe Behavior Problems: Short Chain Hydroxy Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency.
JOANNA LOMAS (The Marcus Institute), Michael E. Kelley (The Marcus Institute and Emory University), Danielle W. Bradley (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Behavior analysis has been used to treat children with a variety of developmental disorders, most commonly autism, and mental retardation (Hanley, Iwata & McCord, 2003). Less research has been conducted when the participant presents with low incidence genetic syndromes. Often these syndromes present different issues that must be overcome to effectively treat the behavior of these children. For example, in some cases the participant may be medically fragile, requiring special considerations. In the current investigation one participant was included that was diagnosed with Short Chain Hydroxy Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (SCHAD), a disorder of mitochondrial fatty acid ß-oxidation. SCHAD deficiency impairs oxidation of fatty acids of short-chain length (4 carbons and shorter). The most effective treatment for the disorder is frequent feeding that avoids fatty foods. This participant was admitted to a day treatment program for the assessment and treatment of food selectivity and problem behavior that occurred during mealtimes. Treatment included the use of escape extinction (EE) in combination with differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior (DRA). Results showed that EE +DRA effectively increased both volume and variety of food consumed by the participant.



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