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 #334
CE Offered: BACB
Assessing Autism Interventions in Public Schools: Which Strategies, for Which Children, with What Resources?
Monday, May 28, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Douglas A
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Philip N. Hineline (Temple University)
Discussant: Gina Green (San Diego State University)
CE Instructor: Philip N. Hineline, Ph.D.

Lovaas et al. (1987) convincingly demonstrated that early intensive applied behavioral interventions can dramatically improve the lifetime prospects for children with autism, and there have been several additional comparative studies validating that specific approach along with the more general term applied behavior analysis as an intervention strategy. But the array of behaviorally based strategies has expanded and evolved over the past two decades. Distinctive labels have been given to innovations, some of which are advocated upon on the basis of conceptual rationales rather than supporting research. Furthermore, services for children with autism have moved beyond the research setting and into public schools and homes, with the interventions implemented by teaching staff, paraprofessionals and parents. There is clearly a need for researchers to step beyond traditional within-subject research designs and begin the process of delineating the similarities and differences between alternative approaches while also evaluating intervention effectiveness. A multi-systemic approach will be presented for evaluating early, intensive ABA-based interventions within public school settings. The methodology for this multi-site study extends beyond the single-subject design to address which techniques and strategies are most effective for which children within the autism spectrum and with what resources of staffing and expertise.

Which Strategies? The Role of Curriculum Sequencing within Autism Interventions.
JOHN C. BARNARD (Educational Services Unit, Burlington County Special Services School District), Christina M. Peters (Temple University), Betsy Wurstner (Temple University)
Abstract: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been recognized as an effective intervention strategy for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and it provides the conceptual foundation for effective early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI). Not the same as the more general term "early intervention," EIBI is a specialized instructional approach that includes an individualized and comprehensive curriculum protocol that is specifically designed and sequenced to build a complex repertoire of skills. This presentation will review selected general principles of behavior analytic curriculum development and discuss certain implications towards effective intervention within public school settings. Some similarities and differences between familiar approaches will be discussed along with the potential implications of these similarities and differences for attempts to compare curriculum packages. A proposed method of tracking curriculum sequencing will be presented along with a graphic representation of data for a sample of students demonstrating the similarities and differences between certain common approaches towards curriculum development. The important role of this type of data within a comprehensive research protocol will be discussed.
For Which Children? Direct vs. Indirect Measures for Predicting Child Outcomes.
BETSY WURSTNER (Temple University), Kelly McElrath (Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22), Lisa Marie Angello (Rider College)
Abstract: Selecting the most effective early intervention strategies for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has become increasingly challenging with the expansion of behaviorally based options that have become available. Direct, repeated assessment and evaluation of the child’s progress often is the single, best predictor of child outcome. However, there may be alternative measures conducted at the outset of intervention that can assist in predicting child outcomes. These assessment techniques include both direct and indirect measures of child performance and potential. As part of a multi-site study examining the factors contributing to positive child outcomes with early intervention, we will examine the relative utility of various assessment methods in predicting child outcomes with intensive early intervention for children with autism. Implications for improving the selection of appropriate intervention strategies will be discussed.
With What Resources? Repeated Assessments of Staff Expertise.
JENNIFER A. WADE (Temple University), Nina C. Wilde (Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22), Saul Axelrod (Temple University)
Abstract: Data from both direct observation and from a written probe will be presented, evaluating the expertise (practical and conceptual) of staff persons who are implementing the alternative behavioral approaches that are under consideration here. The staff expertise probe was developed in the course of staff training prior to this project. During the project, these assessments occur at the start of the school semester, or before and after staff training when that occurs earlier. The staff observation tool was designed specifically for this project, and enables assessments twice per semester to track changes in expertise during a person’s work experience. Although the data will be aggregated in ways that preserve anonymity, results for each individual staff person will be assessed in relation to the progress of individual children with whom that person worked. The two staff assessment techniques were designed to encompass the full range of behavioral techniques so as not to favor any particular approach, thus allowing for meaningful comparison of staff expertise both within and across sites.



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