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 #374
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Approaches to Improving the Quality of Life for Teens in Foster Care
Monday, May 26, 2008
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Area: CSE/TBA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Michelle Sereno (University of South Florida)
Discussant: Hewitt B. Clark (University of South Florida)
CE Instructor: Kimberly Crosland, Ph.D.

Floridas Behavior Analysis Services Program is a statewide program for dependent children and caregivers. Board certified behavior analysts from the University of South Florida and the University of Florida work with parents, staff, and children. More recently, these behavior analysts have been requested to work specifically with high risk teens. Prior research has shown that youth who exit the foster care system at 18 (i.e., those who age out of the system) have insufficient skills to obtain employment, housing, and social relationships that are necessary for successful independent living outcomes (Iglehart, 1994). Running away from placements has also been and remains another significant problem with teenage youth in foster care. Three presentations within the current symposium will discuss outcome results with at-risk youth. The first two presentations will discuss a modified version of the Parenting Tools curriculum for young adults. Both studies reported success in teaching teens specific tools or social skills to improve interactions. The final presentation will describe the results of a study to evaluate the effects of using a Youth Interaction Tool (YIT) to decrease youth runaway behavior. The YIT was used to determine the function of running, resulting in effective treatment strategies to decrease running.

I Don’t Mean No Disrespect…Interaction Tools for Young Adults Class: A Pilot Study Investigating Effects of a Modified Positive Behavioral Parenting Curriculum on Acquisition of Conflict Resolution...
MICHELLE SERENO (University of South Florida), Laraine Winston (University of South Florida), Camille V. Pedone (University of South Florida), Shannon Shea (University of South Florida)
Abstract: This pilot study investigated the effects of training teens/young adults in the use of negotiation/conflict resolution skills, applying and extending previous research that demonstrates the effects of positive behavioral parent training on acquisition of similar skills sets in adult caregivers. Participants were foster children 14-21 years of age in various stages of transitioning from traditional foster care to independent living. The Behavior Analysis Services Program (BASP) ‘Essential Tools for Positive Behavior Change’ curriculum consists of research-based strategies organized into specific “tools” which can be applied to difficult situations. This standard parent-training curriculum was modified in content and presentation style to address issues and challenges specific to the young adult population. Class topics were presented through discussion and activities with opportunities for participants to practice tool usage. Participant skill acquisition was measured through pre- and post-class-role play assessments. Participant scores were compared to the scores of adult caregivers who had attended the standard course and had completed the same pre- and post-course role-play assessments. Results indicate that, while teens/young adults typically scored lower than adult caregivers on pre-assessment role-plays, this population demonstrated higher post-assessment skill acquisition scores than those attained by adult caregivers.
Social Skills Training with Typically Developing Adolescents: Measurement of Skill Acquisition.
JESSICA THOMPSON (University of South Florida), Kimberly Crosland (University of South Florida), Stacie Neff (University of South Florida), Kimberly V. Weiss (University of South Florida), Betsy M. Zamora (University of South Florida)
Abstract: The term social skills has been specifically defined as learned behaviors that allow an individual to engage in socially acceptable interactions with other individuals such that the interactions lead to positive responses from others and aid in the avoidance of negative responses (Elliott & Gresham, 1993). This study investigated the ability of three adolescent females ages 13-17 to acquire a set of social skills through training. The skills taught were modified for teens from the parenting tools taught to foster parents within the Behavior Analysis Services Program. Participant’s acquisition of the skills before and after training was assessed through role-play assessments and experimentally demonstrated using a multiple baseline design. Secondary survey information (e.g. Child Behavior Checklist) was collected from participants and their parents to attempt to measure the effects of training on other behaviors of interest. All three participants demonstrated significant improvements of the three skills taught. The baseline pre-training average across participants was approximately 50% which increased to approximately 88% at post-training. The secondary information showed minor improvements in parent reported child behavior.
Use of the Youth Interaction Tool with Habitual Runaway Youth: Successes and Failures.
DAVID GELLER (University of South Florida), Terresa A. Kenney (University of South Florida), Michael Cripe (University of South Florida), Jessica L. Colon (University of South Florida), Hewitt B. Clark (University of South Florida), Kimberly Crosland (University of South Florida)
Abstract: A significant problem in the field of child protection is that of teenagers running from their foster placements. In this presentation, it is argued that a functional and behavior analytic approach could be effective in reducing the problem of runaways. A functional approach involves conducting assessments regarding the motivations for running, involving the teens themselves in the assessment process, and implementing subsequent interventions designed to make the placements more appealing to the youth, thereby reducing the probability of running. In order to conduct a more accurate assessment of running, the Youth Interaction Tool (YIT) was developed and evaluated with 14 adolescents with histories of running. Data on percent of days on the run and placement changes showed significant pre-post differences for these habitual runners in contrast to no statistical change in a comparison group’s outcomes. The total percent of days on the run for the group decreased from 40% of days in baseline to 11% of days post-intervention. Individual data using a pre-post design will also be presented to illustrate the process of intervention with both youth in which the approach was successful and youth who did not appear to change their running behavior.



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