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 #319
CE Offered: BACB
Improving the Health and Well-Being of Individuals with Autism through Behavior Analysis
Monday, May 26, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W183c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Catherine K. Martinez (Florida Institute of Technology)
CE Instructor: Catherine K. Martinez, M.S.

Individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities often engage in dangerous behaviors or behaviors that put them in potentially dangerous situations. The research presented in this symposium focuses on evaluating assessment and treatment procedures that target improving the health and well-being of individuals with autism and other intellectual disabilities. The first two papers in this symposium will focus on treating dangerous behaviors; rumination and pica. The third paper will focus on increasing tolerance to medical and dental procedures. All presenters will discuss the applied implications of their studies and areas for future research.

Keyword(s): medical treatments, pica, problem behavior, rumination
Evaluating a Gum Chewing Procedure for Decreasing Post-Meal Rumination in a Young Boy with Autism
LOGAN MCDOWELL (Florida International University), Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (Florida International University)
Abstract: Rumination, or the regurgitation and consumption of previously eaten food, is a common problem behavior seen in children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Rumination can lead to serious medical complications including gum erosion, digestive difficulties, and malnutrition. Typically, rumination has been treated with either antecedent interventions such as thickening liquids and starch satiation, or punishment procedures including contingent delivery of hot sauce or other aversive stimuli. In this study, we evaluated a gum chewing procedure designed to treat post meal and intermittent rumination in a young boy diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Following a functional behavior screening, we determined that the child’s rumination was maintained by automatic reinforcement. We then attempted to decrease the rumination using gum chewing as a functionally similar behavior. The study was conducted in two phases: an acquisition phase, in which the subject was taught how to chew gum, and an intervention phase, in which gum was provided following meals and made available per request throughout the day. Results indicated that the gum chewing was an effective replacement behavior for rumination, as rumination decreased to near zero rates when gum was available and reliably increased upon return to baseline.

Further Analysis of Response Effort Assessment Manipulations for the Assessment and Treatment of Pica

REBECKA CAMPBELL (Florida Institute of Technology), Alison M. Betz (Florida Institute of Technology), Meagan Gregory (Florida Institute of Technology), Alexandrea Hope Wiegand (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment, Florida Institute of Technology)

Pica, the consumption of inedible items, is a behavior that can result in dangerous and potentially fatal outcomes. Given the severity of the behavior, identifying efficacious assessment and treatment procedures is critical. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of a response effort analysis as an assessment procedure for the treatment of pica for three individuals diagnosed with Autism. The response effort analysis, was conducted to evaluate the relation of response effort and consumption of pica and alternative items. Results showed that items ranked higher during the preference assessment competed more effectively with pica. Further, when response effort to obtain the alternative item was lower than the effort to obtain the pica item, two of the three participants allocated their responding towards the alternative item. However, results for one participant showed that when response effort was higher for the alternative item responding was allocated toward the pica item. Following the response effort assessment, a treatment procedure was implemented to determine whether the response effort analysis identified items that effectively competed with pica. The results suggest that the intrusiveness of the intervention required to decrease rates of pica may depend on the results of the response-effort analysis. Findings are discussed in terms of efficacy of treatment and response allocation.

Increasing Compliance to Medical/Dental Procedures Using Stimulus Fading/Differential Reinforcement
CATHERINE K. MARTINEZ (Florida Institute of Technology), Alison M. Betz (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: During routine checkups or when ill, disruptive behavior (i.e., aggression, physically withdrawing) often prevent medical/dental personnel from employing standard procedures. The purpose of this study was to increase compliance to these procedures for children with autism. A treatment package including differential reinforcement of compliance and stimulus fading (fading in instruments by proximity, duration, and intensity) was implemented in a multiple-probe design across procedures. The package was effective in decreasing disruptive behavior and increasing compliance to all targeted medical and dental procedures. Additionally, trials to mastery often decreased over the course of treatment, and generalization was demonstrated across staff members.



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