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

Previous Page


Symposium #326
CE Offered: BACB — 
An Evaluation of Methods Improving the Safety and Efficiency of the Functional Analysis and Treatment Process
Sunday, May 28, 2017
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joshua Jessel (Child Study Center)
CE Instructor: Joshua Jessel, Ph.D.

The functional analysis and treatment of problem behavior involves the identification of the reinforcers maintaining problem behavior, and the development of a function-based treatment whereby those same reinforcers are presented contingent on appropriate behavior. When working with children who exhibit severe problem behavior, the safety of those involved (patient and therapist) is of the utmost concern. Often times, modifications to assessment and treatment procedures can be made to ensure (a) the functional analysis, a context intended to evoke problem behavior, is as brief as possible and (b) those components which could potentially worsen problem behavior are eliminated. The first study evaluates the efficacy of a 5-min functional analysis as a tool to inform the development of a treatment intended to reduce the evocation of problem behavior. The following two studies in this symposium evaluate the manipulation of reinforcer dimensions in treatments where extinction cannot be implemented due to the severity of problem behavior. The results of these studies support the use of multiple modifications that could improve the safety for all those involved with the functional analysis and treatment process.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): differential reinforcement, efficiency, functional analysis, safety

An Evaluation of the Single-Test Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis

RACHEL METRAS (University of North Texas), Joshua Jessel (Child Study Center), Gregory P. Hanley (Western New England University), Mahshid Ghaemmaghami (University of the Pacific), Melinda Robison (Child Study Center)

Functional analysis can often be a lengthy process requiring time and resources not readily available to practitioners working with children who exhibit severe problem behavior. The interview-informed synthesized contingency analysis (IISCA) was recently developed as an alternative functional analysis format that improved analytic efficiency by requiring only 25 min to conduct (Jessel, Hanley, & Ghaemmaghami, 2016). Furthermore, in a reanalysis of 10 analyses, Jessel et al. (2016) found that a within-session analysis could reduce the process to as little as a single 5-min session. We extended this previous research by conducting what was termed the single-test IISCA with two boys who exhibited severe problem behavior. A function-based treatment package, including reinforcement thinning, informed by the results of the single-test IISCA nearly eliminated problem behavior for both participants. We suggest that the single-test IISCA could be a viable alternative to other functional analysis formats when time is limited.


Manipulating Dimensions of Reinforcement to Reduce Rates of Problem Behavior in the Absence of Escape Extinction

Sandra Beatriz Castellon (Florida Institute of Technology), ALISON M. BETZ (Coastal Behavior Analysis), Krystal Aguirre (Florida Institute of Technology), Madeleine Diane Keevy (Florida Institute of Technology; The Scott Center for Autism), Ansley Catherine Hodges (Nemours Children's Hospital)

Although escape extinction is often included as a treatment component for children with problem behavior, it may not always be feasible to implement in many cases. Thus, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which manipulating dimensions of the reinforcement for the alternative response (i.e., compliance) influenced rates of problem behavior in the absence of escape extinction. Specifically, we compared the effects of manipulating the quality and magnitude of reinforcement for the alternative response. Additionally, we evaluated the most effective treatment under leaner schedules of reinforcement to further evaluate treatment efficacy. Results from the study suggested that manipulating the quality of reinforcement produced more robust results during treatment comparison for escape-maintained problem behavior. Further, as the schedule of reinforcement for alternative responding was thinned, lower levels of problem behavior were maintained at increasingly lean schedules when alternative responses resulted in the delivery of a high-quality reinforcer.


Investigation of Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior Without Extinction for Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior

ADAM M. BRIGGS (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Amber Lessor (University of Kansas), Bertilde U Kamana (University of Kansas), Rachel Jess (University of Kansas)

Previous research indicates that manipulating dimensions of reinforcement during differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) for situations in which extinction (EXT) cannot be implemented is a potential approach for treating problem behavior. Therefore, we replicated and extended previous research by evaluating the effects of DRA without EXT for escape-maintained problem behavior by determining (a) the conditions under which DRA without EXT was effective for decreasing and maintaining low levels of problem behavior and (b) whether intervention effects would maintain while the token exchange schedule for the alternative response (i.e., compliance) was thinned. Results showed that effective treatments were developed in the absence of EXT by manipulating the magnitude and quality of reinforcement for compliance for all four participants and maintained when reinforcement schedules were thinned for three of the four participants. Implications and future directions related to manipulating dimensions of reinforcement for alternative responding without EXT for problem behavior maintained by social-negative reinforcement and schedule thinning are discussed.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh