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 #222
CE Offered: BACB
Extension and Refinement: Functional Analysis of Problem Behavior
Sunday, May 28, 2017
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Anna Garcia (University of South Florida)
Discussant: Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida)
CE Instructor: Sarah E. Bloom, Ph.D.

Functional Analysis has been a useful approach to determining the function of problem behavior for decades. These four presentations represent recent extensions and refinements to the procedures used by Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, and Richman (1982/1994). The first presentation demonstrates the use of functional analysis for the identification of a response-response relation for problem behavior and an alternative response. The second presentation presents a functional analysis of immediate echolalia. The third presentation is on training parents to conduct trial-based functional analyses. The fourth presentation is an examination of the role of language (Spanish vs. English) in functional analysis of problem behavior. Dr. Brian Iwata will serve as a discussant for this symposium.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): echolalia, functional analysis, Spanish, trial-based FA
Functional Analysis of Immediate Echolalia
(Applied Research)
JENNIFER N. HADDOCK (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: Immediate echolalia, or the pervasive repetition of auditory stimuli, is common in persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Echolalia is often described as “nonfunctional” and “stereotypic,” implying maintenance by automatic reinforcement. Although a number of behavioral treatments for immediate echolalia have been reported, the current study is the first to isolate contingencies responsible for its maintenance. Two children diagnosed with autism participated; both engaged in immediate echolalia that interfered with language acquisition. Functional analyses—which included a control condition and individual test conditions for automatic, social-positive, and social-negative reinforcement—were conducted. Results indicated maintenance by social-negative reinforcement for both participants (see example). Methodological considerations in the functional analysis of opportunity-based problem behaviors and implications for future research will be discussed.
Problem Behavior Maintained by a Response-Response Relation
(Applied Research)
SARAH C. MEAD (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Kathryn Guenevere Horton Topham (University of Florida; Next Steps Behavioral Centers)
Abstract: Identifying the determinants of problem behavior via functional analysis and subsequently strengthening a suitable replacement via differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) is a well-established and highly effective treatment approach. When DRA fails to decrease the rate of problem behavior, treatment integrity errors usually are suspected. An alternative cause of treatment failure—the development of a response-response relation—has yet to be considered. In this study, we conducted a functional analysis with a 20-year-old male to explore the relation between his self-injurious behavior (SIB) and his alternative response. The results suggested that his SIB was maintained by its relation with the alternative response under either a tandem schedule or a precurrent arrangement. Furthermore, the results showed that some treatment failures may be due to the development of response-response relations.
Parent-Implemented Trial-Based Functional Analyses
(Applied Research)
Anna Garcia (University of South Florida), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), CLAUDIA CAMPOS (University of South Florida), Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Conducting functional analyses (FA) is an effective approach to identify functions of problem behavior and develop function-based interventions. A limitation of the conventional FA is the controlled setting in which it is conducted. The trial-based FA is an adaptation to the traditional FA that addresses this limitation. Trial-based FAs have been successful in academic settings and teachers and group home staff members have been trained to conduct this assessment. However, the trial-based FA has not been evaluated in home settings with parents as therapists. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess whether parents can be trained to conduct trial-based FAs with high fidelity in their home setting and to compare their results to those of a conventional FA conducted by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) in a controlled environment. All results were be compared to the Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST) and the social significance of implementing the trial-based FAs at home was measured by having parents fill out the Treatment Acceptability Rating Form (TARF).
A Comparison of Functional Analyses Conducted in Spanish and English
(Applied Research)
Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), ANNA GARCIA (University of South Florida), Claudia Campos (University of South Florida), Diego Valbuena (University of South Florida), Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (University of South Florida)
Abstract: The functional analysis (FA) of problem behavior (Iwata et al., 1982/1994) is considered the gold standard for determining the function of problem behavior. Sessions are typically conducted in one language, regardless of whether the subject is a dual language learner, bilingual speaker or not. It is possible that the language in which the FA is conducted may be a variable that influences the results of an FA. Rispoli et al. (2011) investigated whether different outcomes were obtained when implementing an FA in Spanish vs. English with a 5-year-old girl with a severe intellectual disability. The participant engaged in higher rates of problem behavior when the FA was implemented in English versus Spanish. The purpose of the present study was to replicate and extend the findings of Rispoli et al. (2011) to better understand the effects of language in the results of an FA. More specifically, the purpose was to identify the relationship between the language in which the FA is conducted and the identified function of problem behavior with bilingual children whose primary language in their home is Spanish.



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