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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #405
CE Offered: BACB
Innovations in the Assessment and Treatment of People with Autism
Monday, May 26, 2014
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
W184bc (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Mark O'Reilly (The University of Texas at Austin)
Discussant: Henry S. Roane (State University of New York Upstate Medical University)
CE Instructor: Russell Lang, Ph.D.

People with autism are often the recipients of behavioral interventions. This symposium presents 4 research studies demonstrating recent advances and discoveries involving the behavioral treatment of autism. Study 1 will address challenging behavior resurgence following functional communication training using a schedule thinning procedure. In addition to addressing resurgence, study 1 targets challenging behavior maintained by access to specific rituals, an understudied problem. In study 2, in-service special education teachers were taught to implement trial-based functional analyses in their classroom and the ease of skill acquisition (as measured by trials to criterion) as well as the social validity of the functional analysis, and clarity of functional analysis outcomes were measured. Ipads have become a popular form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) but the parameters mitigating their utility and effectiveness have received little attention. In study 3, Cindy Gevarter compares the efficiency of mand acquisition using the different display formats (e.g., traditional grids, visual scenes) available on Apple iPad. Finally, study 4 demonstrates that children with autism may prefer one form of attention over another and that this preference is an important consideration for designing attention-based interventions. The larger implications of these studies will then discussed by Dr. Henry Roane.

Keyword(s): Communication, Functional Analysis, Preference Assessment, Resurgence

Functional Communication Training and Schedule Thinning to Treat Challenging Behavior Maintained by Access to Rituals

MANDY J. RISPOLI (Texas A&M University)

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of FCT and extinction in conjunction with schedule thinning on the resurgence of challenging behavior associated with access to rituals in young children with autism. Participants included two males and one female diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 5 and 6 years. Each child was referred to the study for challenging behavior associated with a particular ritual. The rituals were: (a) closing all doors, (b) insisting bed remained unmade, and (c) rapidly turning book pages. We utilized a modified reversal design to examine the effects of FCT plus extinction and demand fading on challenging behavior and appropriate communication. The initial treatment package of FCT and extinction reduced challenging behavior for all participants when their ritual was interrupted. However, when participants returned to baseline and reinforcement for appropriate communication was not available, challenging behavior resurged. Following the addition of the demand fading component to the treatment package, challenging behavior did not resurge for any participant when they were again exposed to baseline conditions. Appropriate communication persisted in baseline conditions for two of the three participants.


Teaching Special Educators to Conduct Functional Analyses in the Classroom

LESLIE NEELY (Texas A&M University), Mandy J. Rispoli (Texas A&M University)

Previous studies have investigated the efficacy of training educators to implement functional analyses including traditional, brief and more recently trial-based functional analyses. The literature base has demonstrated promising results in the training and implementation of functional analysis by educators. This purpose of this study was to extend the literature base by systematically training special educators in public school classrooms to conduct a trial-based functional analysis of challenging behavior with students with autism. A multiple baseline design across teachers with an embedded ABC design in which A is baseline, B is simulated probes, and C is in situ classroom probes, along with a trials-to-criterion measure was utilized. After training, the effectiveness of the training procedures is being evaluated based on the ease of acquisition of the procedures (as measured by trials to criterion) as well as the social validity of the functional analysis, and clarity of functional analysis outcomes. Implications for practice as well as future research will be discussed.


Comparing Acquisition of Mands in Children with Autism Using iPads with Scene-based, Grid-based, or Hybrid Displays

CINDY GEVARTER (The University of Texas), Laura Rojeski (The University of Texas at Austin), Nicolette Sammarco (The University of Texas at Austin), Jeffrey S. Sigafoos (Victoria University of Wellington), Giulio Lancioni (University of Bari), Russell Lang (Texas State University)

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) applications on the Apple iPad can include different display formats such as traditional grids, visual scenes with embedded hotspots, and hybrid models that combine elements of grids and scenes. Using a multielement design, this study compared acquisition of mands in three preschool-aged males with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across the aforementioned three different display formats. Two participants showed more rapid and consistent acquisition with scene-based formats than with grid-based formats, and did not master mands under the hybrid condition. The third participant achieved mastery under all three conditions at comparable rates. The results suggest that certain display and design elements of AAC applications may influence mand acquisition.


Assessing Preferences for Varying Forms of Attention and the Impact on Response to Attention-based Interventions

RUSSELL LANG (Texas State University), Marije van der Werff (Radboud University Nijmegen), Katja Verbeek (Radboud University Nijmegen), Katy Davenport (Texas State University), Melissa Moore (Texas State University), Allyson Lee (Texas State University), Robert Didden (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Existing preference assessment procedures are designed to determine preferences for specific tangibles. However, tangibles may not always be practical or effective and, attention may be a more desirable reinforcer in some children's behavioral interventions. Attention can be delivered in various forms, such as physical (e.g., a hug, high five), verbal (e.g., "great job"), and gestural (e.g., wink and smile). In the first phase of this study, 2 children with autism underwent a novel preference assessment procedure designed to identify each child's most preferred and least preferred form of attention. Results from this phase indicate that children may prefer one topography of attention over another or one form of attention. In the second phase, the occurrence of target behaviors (e.g., sight word reading) were reinforced by either the highest rated form of attention (high preferred condition) or the lowest rated form of attention (low preferred condition). The rates of challenging behavior and percentage of correct responses were compared across conditions in an alternating treatment design. Results demonstrate that some children with autism may develop preferences for specific forms of attention and that higher preferred forms of attention may function as more effective reinforcers than low preferred forms.




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