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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #518
CE Offered: BACB
Innovations in Functional Analysis and Function-Based Treatment of Problem Behavior: The Role of Transitions, Synthesized Contingencies, and Treatment Integrity in Addressing Problem Behavior
Monday, May 25, 2020
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Room 103
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jessica L. Thomason-Sassi (New England Center for Children)
CE Instructor: Jessica L. Thomason-Sassi, Ph.D.

Functional analysis (FA) methodology and function-based treatment is a constantly evolving science informed by both issues encountered in practice and recent scientific literature. This symposium includes studies on the role of activity transitions, synthesized contingencies, and treatment integrity in the assessment and treatment of problem behavior. The first study illustrates the role of transitions across activities of varying preferences in the maintenance of escape-maintained problem behavior for individuals with developmental disabilities and offers a model for assessing and developing a reinforcement-based treatment. The second study compares outcomes of isolated and synthesized contingency FAs and functional communication training (FCT) based on the outcomes of each FA. In a final phase, experimenters evaluated participant preference for treatment. The third study evaluates the effects of reduced treatment integrity on problem behavior treated with FCT, and then illustrates the use of a booster-style intervention designed to mitigate the effects of reduced treatment integrity during FCT under a multiple schedule arrangement.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): synthesized contingencies, transitions, treatment integrity
Target Audience:

Researchers and clinicians working on functional analysis and function-based treatment of problem behavior

Learning Objectives: 1. Attendees will be able to discuss the potential role of activity preference on transitions and treatment of escape-maintained behavior 2. Attendees will be able to discuss the role of synthesized contingencies in the assessment and treatment of problem behavior 3. Attendees will be able to discuss the effects of reduced treatment integrity and an intervention that may mitigate the effects of reduced integrity
The Establishing Effects of Task Preference on Escape-Maintained Destructive Behavior
ANDREW C BONNER (University of Florida ), Nathalie Fernandez (University of Florida), Kissel Joseph Goldman (University of Florida), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (University of Florida)
Abstract: Transitions among activities are a contributing factor to escape-maintained problem behavior. The current study examined relations among activity preferences, escape-maintained behavior, and the strength of interventions required to reduce problem behavior in this context. The activity preferences of three individuals with developmental disabilities were determined using paired stimulus preference assessments. Rates of problem behavior were then compared during transitions among high-, moderate-, or low- preference activities when problem behavior produced access to the start task. For all participants, problem behavior was observed primarily when transitioning from higher to lower preference activities. However, zero or low rates of problem behavior were observed when transitions from lower to higher preference activities. During treatment, reinforced compliance (i.e., completing the transition without escape extinction) was sufficient to reduce problem behavior during transitions from high to moderate preference tasks, but differential reinforcement of alternative behavior was required to reduce problem behavior during transitions to the lowest preference tasks.
A Comparison of Interview-Informed Isolated and Synthesized Contingency Functional Analyses and Functional Communication Training
CASEY MCKOY IRWIN (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Carole M. Van Camp (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Abstract: Research using typical functional analysis (FA) procedures suggests that problem behavior is sensitive to the independent effects of isolated contingencies (e.g., Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Rachlin, 1994), whereas research employing the IISCA suggests interactive effects of combined contingencies (e.g., Hanley, Jin, Vanselow, and Hanrattay, 2014). The purpose of the current study was to compare the outcomes of isolated and synthesized contingency FAs with three participants, and to evaluate functional communications training (FCT) with isolated (functional) and synthesized (functional and arbitrary) reinforcers. Both FAs were informed by an open-ended interview with caregivers and a structured descriptive assessment. Problem behavior for all three participants was maintained by one or two isolated reinforcers, with no additional evidence of interactive effects in the synthesized contingency phases. For one participant, a second isolated reinforcer was identified following the synthesized analysis, indicating possible iatrogenic effects. FCT treatments were equally effective at reducing problem behavior and maintaining FCRs for all three participants. Participant preference for treatment procedures was evaluated. Two participants preferred the synthesized FCT treatment, which included arbitrary consequences. One participant preferred an isolated FCT treatment, possibly as a result of a recent learning history with the reinforcer.
Evaluation and Mitigation of the Effects of Treatment Integrity Failures
AIMEE COURTEMANCHE (New England Center for Children), Jessica L. Thomason-Sassi (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) is widely used and has been shown to be a robust and effective intervention. However, previous studies suggest that reduced treatment integrity can result in the re-emergence of challenging behavior. The current study evaluated the effects of treatment integrity failure on DRA interventions and the use of booster sessions to increase the persistence of a functional communication alternative in the context of integrity failure. Experiment 1 determined the integrity level at which detrimental effects are observed when treatment integrity errors are applied to a continuous DRA intervention. Mands decreased at integrity levels of 50% reinforcement or less for 2 of 3 participants. Experiment 2 evaluated the effect of varying ratios of interspersed full-integrity sessions among reduced-integrity sessions. A history of frequent and infrequent full-integrity sessions increased mand persistence for 2 participants. Experiment 3 evaluated the efficacy of the booster intervention on a DRA treatment faded with a multiple schedule and exposed to reduced treatment integrity. Treatment integrity data were collected in 75% of sessions and averaged 100%. Interobserver agreement data were collected in 36% of sessions and averaged 99.2%.



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