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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #46
CE Offered: BACB
Keeping Children Safe Through Applications of Behavior Analysis
Saturday, May 27, 2017
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center 406/407
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Meghan Doherty (Southern Illinois University)
Discussant: Michael E. May (Southern Illinois University)
CE Instructor: Michael E. May, Ph.D.
Abstract: The purpose of this symposium is to describe interventions aimed at teaching children to (a) accurately identify situations in which their risk of personal harm is heightened, and (b) engage in “safe” responses prescribed to reduce said risk. The first presenter will describe a study in which researchers taught an adolescent male diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder to discriminate when he was “lost” and to initiate a response chain incorporating conditional discriminations that ultimately led him to recruiting the help of store employees when care providers could not be found. The second presenter will describe a study in which researchers taught typical preschool children how to identify characteristics of suspicious packages, how to identify locations in which suspicious packages are likely to be found, how to safely exit areas in which suspicious packages have been found, and how to report locations of suspicious packages to adults. Implications for training personal safety skills to vulnerable populations will be discussed.
Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): community instruction, conditional discriminations, safety skills, suspicious packages

Teaching an Adolescent Male With Down Syndrome to Recruit Help When Lost

MARY MATTHEWS (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Michael Lambert (Vanderbilt University), Nealetta Houchins-Juarez (Vanderbilt University)

Social and communication deficits for children with autism may lead to an increased risk of becoming lost in public spaces, yet few studies have investigated methods for explicitly teaching help-seeking skills. This study was based on the work of Bergstrom et al (2012) and used discrimination training and forward chaining to systematically teach a hierarchy of help-seeking responses to an 18-year-old male diagnosed with autism, Down Syndrome, and ADHD. We first taught the participant to discriminate lost in a clinical setting. Then, we taught him a four-step sequence of conditional responses to recruit help in a public space: call out, approach desk, recruit attention, and exchange identification card. Because any of these responses could effectively produce reinforcement, we taught the sequence using a forward chaining procedure. We established experimental control of treatment effects using a concurrent multiple probe design across contexts and tracked independent responding during baseline, training, and maintenance as our primary dependent variable. Results indicate that the intervention was effective and treatment effects maintained across all settings.

Training Preschool Children to Identify and Report Suspicious Packages
MATTHEW L. JOHNSON (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Michael E. May (Southern Illinois University), Ashley Shayter (Southern Illinois University), Ayla Schmick (Southern Illinois University), Becky Barron (Southern Illinois University- Carbondale), Meghan Doherty (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Law enforcement agencies stress that public awareness of terror-related crime and reporting such activity to the appropriate authorities are predominant objectives for disrupting these actions. However, schools may be unprepared because the majority of the populace may not understand the threat of suspicious materials or what to do when they are found on school grounds. The purpose of this study was to teach preschool children to identify and report suspicious packages across three experiments. Experiment I taught them to identify the characteristics of safe and unsafe packages. Experiment II taught them to discriminate between locations where packages should be considered safe or unsafe. Experiment III taught them to avoid touching packages, leave the area, and report their discovery to an adult. Results suggest the participants across all three experiments were able to quickly develop these skills using a behavioral skills training procedure. Implications for safety skills in young school children are discussed.



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