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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #146
CE Offered: BACB
Extensions of Functional Analysis Methodology for Clarifying Ambiguous Outcomes
Sunday, May 27, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Ford AB
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Eileen M. Roscoe, Ph.D.

The four papers included in this symposium discuss various extensions of functional analysis methodology that may facilitate clear outcomes. In the first paper, Jeffrey Tiger will describe a modified functional analysis that included the delivery of consequences by the participants sibling. In the second paper, Sacha Pence will present data showing that the inclusion of modified social positive test conditions facilitated clear determination of function for two participants. In the third paper, Tiffany Kodak will describe an assessment for identifying various forms of attention for inclusion in a functional analysis. In the forth paper, Lynlea Longworth will present data on an empirically-based method for identifying tasks for inclusion during the demand condition of a functional analysis.

Functional Analysis and Treatment of the Sibling-Directed Aggression of Two Brothers Diagnosed with Autism.
JEFFREY H. TIGER (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Wayne W. Fisher (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Tiffany Kodak (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Nitasha Dickes (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Darrel Moreland (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Christopher E. Bullock (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Kelly J. Bouxsein (Georgia State University, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: This data set provides a case example of an idiosyncratic application of functional analysis methodology. Two adolescent brothers, both diagnosed with autism, were referred for the treatment of aggression. Individual functional analyses were conducted with each brother. The results for the younger brother indicated that his aggression was maintained by escape from social interaction, however, the results for the older brother were inconclusive (i.e., near-zero rates of aggression across conditions). An additional functional analysis was conducted in which both brothers were present during the assessment, but social consequences were provided only upon the older brother’s aggression. The results of this analysis suggested that the older brother’s aggression was maintained independent of therapist mediated consequences, and was likely maintained by his younger brother’s reaction to aggression (i.e., return aggression). Function-based treatments were then implemented for each brother, including: (a) an enriched-environment for the older brother to compete with the stimulation produced by aggression and (b) functional communication training for the younger brother, to strengthen an alternative response that would result in the termination of social interaction. These treatments were evaluated in reversal designs.
Functional Analysis of Problem Behavior Maintained by Idiosyncratic Forms of Social Positive Reinforcement.
AIMEE GILES (New England Center for Children), Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children), Sacha T. Pence (New England Center for Children), Arianne Kindle (New England Center for Children), Griffin Rooker (New England Center for Children), Amanda M. Mahoney (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In this study, results of initial functional analyses were inconclusive for two individuals diagnosed with autism who exhibited aggression and/or self-injury. Based upon staff report that their problem behavior was maintained by an idiosyncratic form of attention (participant 1) or by an idiosyncratic form of edible (participant 2), modifications to an attention condition and a tangible condition were evaluated, respectively. For participant 1, a modified attention condition, involving the delivery of preferred conversational topics contingent upon behavior, was included in an extended functional analysis. For participant 2, a modified tangible condition, involving frequent delivery of the statement “You can’t have that now” and delivery of a specific type of edible contingent on problem behavior, was evaluated. Results showed that inclusion of these modified conditions led to identification of an idiosyncratic form of social positive reinforcement, access to preferred conversational topics (participant 1) or access to specific edibles (participant 2). For participant 1, a differential-reinforcement of alternative behavior treatment matched to the maintaining variable identified was conducted and found effective in decreasing problem behavior.
An Evaluation of the Types of Attention Maintaining Problem Behavior.
TIFFANY KODAK (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), John A. Northup (University of Iowa), Michael E. Kelley (The Marcus Institute and Emory University), Laura L. Grow (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Previous research indicates that certain types of attention (i.e., statements related to behavior, tickles) may have greater reinforcement value than other types for certain individuals (Fisher, Ninness, Piazza, & Owen-DeSchryver, 1996; Piazza, Bowman, Contrucci, Delia, Adelinis, & Goh, 1999), although only one or two forms of attention are typically provided contingent on problem behavior during the attention condition of the functional analysis (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994). Various other forms of attention that are not typically assessed during functional analyses may be responsible for behavioral maintenance in the natural environment (e.g., eye contact, tickles), and further research is warranted to identify additional forms of attention that may influence the occurrence of problem behavior. In this investigation, three participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities and/or autism were referred for the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior. Various forms of attention were provided contingent on problem behavior to identify the influence of each form of attention. Results indicated that the attention forms affected problem behavior differently; these outcomes are discussed in terms of their implications for assessment and treatment procedures.
Assessing the Utility of a Demand Assessment for Functional Analysis.
LYNLEA J. LONGWORTH (New England Center for Children), Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children), Griffin Rooker (New England Center for Children), Sacha T. Pence (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In the current study, we evaluated the utility of conducting an empirically-based demand assessment prior to conducting a functional analysis (FA) to identify appropriate tasks for inclusion during the demand condition. Three individuals, diagnosed with autism, who exhibited aggression or self injury, participated. During the demand assessment, a variety of tasks were singly presented, and problem behavior and compliance were measured. From this assessment, low-probability (low-p) demands (those associated with either low levels of compliance or high levels of problem behavior) and high-probability (high-p) demands (those associated with either high levels of compliance and low levels of problem behavior) were identified. During the functional analysis, alone, attention, play, low-p demand, and high-p demand conditions were conducted. Two separate functional analysis graphs were created, one with all conditions included except the low-p demand condition, and one with all conditions included except the high-p demand condition. Results showed that clearer outcomes were obtained for two of the three participants when the low-p demand condition was included rather than the high-p demand condition.



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