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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #97
Translating Basic Behavioral Processes into Effective Clinical Interventions for Persons With Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Monday, September 30, 2019
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 6, A3/A4
Area: AUT/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Discussant: David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa)

Conceptualizing translational research from a transactional perspective, in which scientific and clinical information flows in multiple directions, leads to more relevant basic and applied research and interventions that are more effective. In this symposium, we will present a series of translational investigations that have involved collaborations between basic and applied researchers to improve our understanding of, and ability to treat severe problem behavior. These investigations include studies involving human and nonhuman species and applications of behavioral momentum theory and the generalized matching law to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and durability of function-based treatment of destructive behavior in individuals with autism and related disorders. Our discussant will integrate and discuss the applied and theoretical implications of these studies and provide directions for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): autism, translational research, treatment relapse
Mitigating Resurgence of Destructive Behavior Following Functional Communication Training Using Multiple and Chain Schedules
(Applied Research)
WAYNE W. FISHER (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Cathleen C. Piazza (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Ashley Marie Fuhrman (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Brian D. Greer (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Daniel R. Mitteer (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Resurgence is a form of treatment relapse that involves the reoccurrence of a previously reinforcement response (e.g., destructive behavior) following extinction of a subsequently reinforced alternative response (e.g., a functional communication response [FCR] during functional communication training [FCT]). Results of several recent translational studies have suggested that correlating contextual or discriminative stimuli with the delivery or withholding of reinforcement for the FCR may mitigate resurgence of destructive behavior, but none have isolated the effects of those stimuli. In this study, we (a) trained the FCR, brought it under stimulus control of a multiple schedule, and thinned its reinforcement schedule in one stimulus context and then (b) tested the effects of the SD and S from the multiple schedule during a resurgence sequence (baseline, FCT, extinction) in a novel context relative to an equivalent resurgence sequence in another novel context without the SD and S. Results showed less persistence of the FCR and less resurgence of destructive behavior in context with the SD and S present relative to the context without those stimuli. We discuss the applied and theoretical implications of these results relative to theories of resurgence that do and do not accommodate the effects of discriminative and contextual stimuli.

An Evaluation of Behavioral Persistence With Academic Performance

(Applied Research)
KELLY M. SCHIELTZ (University of Iowa), Amy Conrad (University of Iowa), Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota), Christopher A. Podlesnik (Florida Institute of Technology), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa)

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of positive reinforcement on academic behavior that was historically related to problem behavior maintained by negative reinforcement. Sam was a 12-year-old boy with autism. Problem behavior and academic performance in math were evaluated across three conditions (baseline, contingent positive reinforcement, and bonus positive reinforcement) within a reversal design. IOA was assessed across 31% of sessions and averaged 98%. Results showed behavioral persistence with academic performance (number of problems attempted; Figure 1, top panel). As Sam received greater amounts of positive reinforcement (for answering bonus questions) he completed more math problems across sessions during subsequent baseline extinction sessions but also continued to show problem behavior (Figure 1, bottom panel). Thus, even though persistence of appropriate academic behavior in the absence of treatment following contingent positive reinforcement was achieved, problem behavior also showed persistence. We will discuss these results within a conceptual model linking neuroscience, behavior analysis, and behavioral momentum theory to promote the long-term maintenance of appropriate academic behavior.


An Intervention for Change-Resistant Feeding Behavior in Children With Autism

(Applied Research)
CATHLEEN C. PIAZZA (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Jaime Crowley (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Kathryn M. Peterson (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)

Resistance to change or insistence on sameness is a problematic behavior exhibited by children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in which the child has extreme emotional outbursts in response to change. Restricted diet variety is one common form of resistance to change that children with ASD exhibit. For example, Schreck, Williams, and Smith found that children with ASD ate about half the dairy items, fruits, proteins, and vegetables children without ASD ate, and the remainder of their diet often included processed junk foods that were low in nutritional content and high in fat and sugar. In the current study, we implemented an intervention for change-resistant feeding behavior based conceptually, but not mathematically, on the generalized matching law with 5 young children with ASD and a restricted diet variety. During the intervention, the researcher gave the participant a choice between (a) a change-resistant food and an alternative food when consuming either produced no programmed consequence during the free-choice condition, (b) a change-resistant food and an alternative food when consuming the change-resistant food produced no programmed consequence and consuming the alternative food produced a preferred item during the asymmetrical-choice condition, and (c) choosing and consuming the alternative food independently and receiving the preferred item or being guided to choose and consume the alternative food during the single-choice condition. Most participants began consuming the first alternative food exposed to the intervention at high, stable levels during the single-choice condition and continued to consume the alternative food during a reversal to the asymmetrical-choice condition. Consumption of other alternative foods increased when the researcher implemented the asymmetrical-choice condition before exposure to the single-choice condition. The generalized matching law provided a conceptual model for arranging contingencies during our intervention to (a) decrease the relative value and frequency of consumption of the change-resistant food, (b) increase the relative value and frequency of the alternative food, and (c) increase the preference for the alternative food for some children (e.g., the child preferred to eat green beans over hot dog).


A Translational Analysis of Non-Sequential Renewal

(Basic Research)
HENRY S. ROANE (Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (Upstate Medical University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)

ABA renewal occurs when behavior learned in one context (e.g., home; A) and treated in a separate context (e.g., clinic; B) reemerges when the original context is reintroduced (A). Basic-laboratory assessments of renewal may inform clinical efforts to maintain reduction of severe problem behavior when clients transition between contexts. The contextual changes arranged during standard renewal procedures, however, may not align with those that clients experience during outpatient therapy. In this presentation, we first describe a human-laboratory translation in which we compared levels of recurrence using the standard ABA renewal procedure and a modified nonsequential ACA procedure, which was modeled from the typical course of outpatient treatment for problem behavior. Second, we compared renewal of rats’ lever pressing following a standard ABA renewal procedure (i.e., baseline in Context A, extinction in Context B, renewal test in Context A) and a non-sequential renewal assessment wherein treatment consisted of frequent alternation between Context A (associated with reinforcement for lever pressing) and Context B (associated with extinction). Across both studies, responding renewed to a greater extent in the non-sequential condition. These findings will be discussed within the framework of treatment for severe problem behavior, particularly related to implications for clinical research and practic




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