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 #530
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment Considerations in Behavioral Treatment of Autism
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Continental C
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
CE Instructor: Gerald E. Harris, Ph.D.

Applied behavior analysis is often characterized as data driven. Data are only as valid as the instruments that produce the data. This symposium presents data-based information about characteristics of measures often used in ABA research and intervention in the area of autism. The first presentation examines several of the most commonly used measures of language in children with autism. How these measures compare to each other and the implications for reporting and interpreting scores from these measures is presented. The second presentation offers findings from a relatively large sample group comparison study concerning the utility of a low-cost, widely used behavior report measure (CBCL) as a screening tool for more efficiently identifying children who could benefit from ABA intervention. The third presentation provides data from a large sample of children with autism who were administered a Weschler Intelligence Scale prior to beginning ABA treatment. Normative data by age group are presented and a case is made for using population specific norms when reporting and interpreting intelligence scores for children with autism. Together, these presentations give significant new information relevant to research and treatment in the area of ABA for children with autism.

An Examination of Standardized Language Measures Used with Children with Autism.
GERALD E. HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Catriona Cullum (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Autism is a complex condition, yet typically assessed using few standardized instruments. Level of functioning is often estimated based on a single scale. Additionally, lack of consensus regarding which tests are most accurate in evaluating children with autism may be partially to blame for the inconsistency in measures chosen across and within studies. Researchers often compare scores on different instruments to determine whether or not an intervention was effective. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between language measures (VABS, RDLS, PLS-IV, and GLC) most commonly used in the assessment of children with autism. Since results from these tests are often used interchangeably in the research and intervention communities, this study examined the relationship between scores on these four tests. Participants included 107 children diagnosed with autism between the ages of 15 months and 10 years of age, each of whom was administered multiple language tests within an evaluation. It was found that, although the tests were moderately to strongly correlated, children received very different age equivalent scores across the different tests. For some children, age equivalent scores varied by as much as two years.
Identifying Behavioral Patterns in Children with Autism Using the CBCL.
GERI MARIA HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Catriona Cullum (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is one of the most widely used measures of child behavior, yet little is known about its psychometric properties in relation to children with autism. Because it is a behaviorally oriented measure, the CBCL has potential utility in clinical activities associated with autism. This investigation compares a normative sample of typically developing children to children with autism to distinguish between behavioral patterns. Parent reports from a sample of 275 children with autism were compared to a sample of same age typically developing children. Group differences were significant enough to consider the CBCL to be a useful screening tool in the identification of children with autism. CBCL problem behaviors are clustered into seven syndromes and five DSM-Oriented Scales, which group items based on their relationship to criteria for DSM diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Although the items in the DSM-Oriented Scales are related to criteria for clinical diagnoses, these scales do not correspond exactly to diagnostic criteria. A proposed CBCL profile for autism, based on the data from this study, is presented and implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.
Revising Normalizations for the WPPSI-III for Use with Children with Autism.
WENDY J. NEELY (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project), Glen O. Sallows (Wisconsin Early Autism Project), Tamlynn Sallows (Wisconsin Early Autism Project)
Abstract: Assessment of cognitive abilities of children with autism is crucial to designing and evaluating behavioral interventions. While the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (3rd Ed.) is generally considered to be the “gold standard” of intelligence tests for preschool age children, the published normalization tables were developed based on a sample of children from the general population. Since children with autism who receive ABA early intervention frequently achieve developmental and cognitive gains at a slower rate than the general population, resulting standard scores often appear to decrease, rather than reflect progress actually made. Wechsler’s normalization procedures were replicated in this study to create scaled and composite scores for use specifically with children with autism. Raw test scores from pre-treatment test administrations of nearly 500 children with Autism were used to create an initial version of the new standard scores. These new standard scores should provide a mechanism with which interpretations of a child’s test scores may be made relative to other children with autism. Implications for use of these revised scales are also discussed.



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