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 #175
CE Offered: BACB
Enhancing Quality of Life among People with Severe Disabilities and Their Support Staff
Sunday, May 27, 2007
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Elizabeth DE
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Dennis H. Reid (Carolina Behavior Analysis and Support Center, Ltd.)
CE Instructor: Dennis H. Reid, Ph.D.

This symposium will present three studies on behavioral applications for enhancing quality of life among people with severe disabilities and their support staff. The first study will describe a systematic procedure for using verbal reports of support staff to identify indices of happiness and unhappiness among nonvocal adults with autism, and then observational and choice procedures to validate the reports. Results indicated the procedures reliably identified happiness/unhappiness indicators among adults with autism who lacked conventional means of expressing their emotions. The second study will describe a means of assessing nonpreferred work tasks among support staff, and then altering the tasks by pairing them with preferred activities to make the tasks more desirable. Results indicated the behavioral pairing procedures enhanced the preferred nature of disliked tasks among all four participating staff. The third study will describe a means of maintaining desired work behavior among staff by focusing on enhancing the self-reinforcing nature of the staffs appropriate work performance. Overall, results of three studies indicate how behavioral procedures can be applied in socially important areas such as quality of life that are often considered to be outside of the realm of applied behavior analysis.

Identifying and Validating Indices of Happiness and Unhappiness among Nonvocal Adults with Autism.
LINDSEY P. LATTIMORE (J. Iverson Riddle Center), Marsha B. Parsons (J. Iverson Riddle Center), Dennis H. Reid (Carolina Behavior Analysis and Support Center, Ltd.)
Abstract: An area of recent interest in behavior analysis is identifying indices of happiness among people with severe disabilities who cannot readily express the private states of happiness and unhappiness. This investigation evaluated use of behavioral indices of happiness developed in research with people with severe cognitive disabilities as a means of identifying happiness indices among people with severe autism in addition to cognitive disabilities. Following results showing the measures to inconsistently reflect the private state of happiness, a behavioral assessment procedure was evaluated specifically for adults with autism who have unique challenges with displaying emotional or affective behavior. The procedure, relying on opinions of familiar support staff, was validated by observing reported happiness and unhappiness indices during situations reported to promote the two types of indices respectively, and then providing choices of activities that occasioned happiness and unhappiness indices. Results indicated that participants consistently chose activities that were accompanied by happiness indices over activities accompanied by indices of unhappiness. These results suggest the behavioral assessment strategy reliably identified valid indicators of happiness and unhappiness, which in turn could be used to promote more happiness among adults with autism.
Enhancing Quality of Staff Work Life: Making Disliked Job Tasks More Preferred.
CAROLYN W. GREEN (J. Iverson Riddle Center), Dennis H. Reid (Carolina Behavior Analysis and Support Center, Ltd.)
Abstract: A procedure for making disliked work tasks more preferred for direct support staff was evaluated with four staff in a residential facility. Initially, staff preferences for specific work tasks that constituted their primary job duties were assessed through systematic preference assessments involving ratings and rankings of the tasks. Subsequently, the most nonpreferred task for each staff person was altered by pairing the task with preferred activities of each staff person. Results of a multiple probe design involving repeated preference assessments (staff ratings and rankings of work tasks) indicated the pairing procedure was accompanied by increased preferences for previously disliked work tasks for each of the participating staff persons. For two of the staff persons, the two most nonpreferred tasks became highly preferred following the pairing procedure. Results are discussed regarding means of enhancing one aspect of quality of work life among direct support staff, and the implications of improved work life on staff retention and overall service provision.
Living Quality Lives: A Methodology for Maintenance.
MARTIN THOMAS IVANCIC (J. Iverson Riddle Center)
Abstract: Direct contingencies used in training work skills to support staff may include a stimulus control that is inappropriate for maintaining acquired behavior outside of the presence of the staff supervisor. This presentation will describe research showing how indirect contingencies, that involve staff contact with appropriate work behavior outside the moment of its occurrence, can function to maintain newly trained work skills. Such contingencies (e.g., privately written comments, publicly posted comments, modeling, and talking about the behavior out loud) can increase staff contact with information about appropriate responding outside the presence of the supervisor. Supplementing training with indirect contingencies may not only promote maintenance of behavior change but also self-reinforcement through what is commonly referred to as personal or shared pride about work performance. Results of a multiple baseline design support such an interpretation by showing maintained staff performance using indirect contingencies. Results are discussed in regard to using indirect contingencies to impact desirable work performance and enhance staff quality of work life overall.



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