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 #85
CE Offered: BACB
The Role of Social-Positive Reinforcement in the Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior
Saturday, May 27, 2017
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 1C/D
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Colin S. Muething (Marcus Autism Center; Emory University School of Medicine)
Discussant: Sacha T. Pence (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Colin S. Muething, Ph.D.
Abstract: Problem behavior (e.g., noncompliance, aggression) is most often maintained by social reinforcement (Beavers, Iwata, & Lerman, 2013). Beavers et al. found that 32.7% of functional analysis outcomes determined that problem behavior was maintained by social-positive reinforcement including access to attention and/or access to high preferred items. This symposium will present recent research on social-positive reinforcement. Findings will show that qualitatively different forms of attention (e.g., high quality vs. low quality) may maintain problem behavior and result in differential outcomes on increasing compliance and decreasing problem behavior. The role of distinct topographies of attention (i.e., playful interaction vs. reprimands) on differential functional analysis results across conditions and therapists are considered. Further, recommendations for developing treatments for problem behavior maintained by social-positive reinforcement that produce significant reductions were found to incorporate a variety of individualized components. Taken together, these results provide support for the refinement of assessments and treatments of problem behavior maintained by social-positive reinforcement.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Case-Series Review, Quality Attention, Social-Positive Reinforcment
Video Modeling to Train Staff to Deliver Preferred Qualities of Attention
TRACI TABER (School Psychology), Nathan Lambright (Rutgers University)
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to train classroom staff to provide attention that included specific qualities preferred by an adolescent student with ASD. The student had a history of significant aggression that resulted in a physical management procedure (escort) to maintain safety for students and staff. A video modeling technique was used to train staff to use open ended statements, musical tones, and chanting when delivering praise statements to and interacting with the student in the classroom. The teachers were trained to deliver the preferred qualities of attention throughout the school day during regularly scheduled instructional and leisure activities. The video model was created using the student and a novel, neutral staff member to demonstrate the delivery of attention containing the qualities preferred by the student. A multiple baseline across participants design was used to evaluate staff delivery of the preferred qualities of attention following the video modeling training. Results indicated that the video modeling technique was effective in increasing staff use of preferred qualities of attention and there was a reduction in student aggression and use of physical management. Data were collected for a one month follow-up phase to evaluate staff maintenance of the increased delivery of preferred qualities of attention.
Impact of Quality of Fixed-Time Attention on Reduction of Problem Behaviors
TIFFANY BORN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Melanie DuBard (May Institute)
Abstract: Utilizing an alternating treatments design, this study found that fixed-time high quality attention (enthusiastic praise and physical touch) was superior to low quality attention (neutral statements without physical touch) at reducing rates of noncompliance during the school day for a 12-year-old student with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The student was noncompliant for an average of 7.37 min per hour when receiving non-contingent high quality attention and an average of 15.49 min per hour when receiving non-contingent low quality attention. Schedule of reinforcement (fixed-time of 30 sec vs. 2 min) had less impact on results. An overall decreasing trend was found across conditions for the second target behavior of self-injurious behavior but differences between qualities of attention were not obtained. School staff reported more satisfaction with the high quality attention interventions. These results indicate that the quality of attention given may matter more in reducing attention-maintained noncompliance and other problem behaviors than the schedule on which it is given. This has practical implications for teachers and interventionists who have a limited amount of time to provide attention to each child; quality seems to trump quantity.
Expanding Methods of Functional Analyses for Naturalistic Settings
GREG SCHUTTE (Children's Mercy Hospital)
Abstract: This study examined the reinforcing value of attention across topography within a naturalistic functional analysis of inappropriate social behavior seen in an adolescent with Autism. Attention was differentiated in two ways. First, a traditional multi-element functional analysis (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994) was conducted that included a second attention condition (i.e., playful/casual interaction) in addition to the traditional attention condition (i.e., reprimand). The six conditions were ordered across 38, 5-min sessions using stratified random assignment. The results indicated significantly higher, although variable, rates of behavior during the Attention-2 (i.e., playful/casual) condition, while no differences were seen across the other conditions (Figure 1). Next, therapist differences were taken into account and examined using a reversal design within the multi-element FA (Figure 2). The results indicated significant-and-consistent differences across staff on Attention-2. Overall, the comprehensive results indicate the presence of a significant antecedent-by-consequence interaction effect in the function of inappropriate social behavior. The implications of these findings highlight the significance of topography in social attention as a reinforcer and the utility of incorporating descriptive methodology into naturalistic functional analyses.
A Consecutive Case Review of Interventions for Problem Behavior Maintained by Social-Positive Reinforcement
COLIN S. MUETHING (Marcus Autism Center), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Marcus Autism Center), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center), Courtney Mauzy (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: A consecutive controlled case-series design (Hagopian, Rooker, Jessel, & DeLeon, 2013) was used to examine treatments for problem behavior maintained by social-positive reinforcement in a behavioral day-treatment program. Data were collected over a three-year period for clients who engaged in problem behavior maintained by access to preferred items and/or attention. Data were collected in a variety of areas including client demographics, topography of problem behaviors (e.g., aggression, self-injury, pica), additional functions of problem behavior, and treatment components (e.g., functional communication training, extinction, differential reinforcement of other behavior). Additional data were collected on generalization to different settings or persons and the findings of the functional analysis were confirmed using procedures from Roane, Fisher, Kelley, and Bouxsein (2013). Finally, percent reductions in problem behavior were calculated comparing baseline to other settings in which generalization occurred. Future areas of research and clinical implications are discussed.



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