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 #504
CE Offered: BACB
Issues Related to Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior from a Variety of Perspectives
Monday, May 25, 2020
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 207B
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (University of Missouri)
Discussant: Megan A. Boyle (Missouri State University)
CE Instructor: Jennifer Rebecca Weyman, Ph.D.

The functional analysis is used to identify the function of problem behavior (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/1994), which in-turn, is used to develop a function-based treatment to decrease the problem behavior (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003). The purpose of the current symposium is to present four studies that investigate a variety questions related to the functional analysis and function-based treatments. The first presentation will examine the effects of the functional analysis on problem behavior outside of session. The second will be on the evaluation of the trial-based functional analysis to assess problem behavior evoked by ritual interruption. The third will be on the utilization of an indirect assessment to systematically individualize the initial component durations used during schedule thinning following functional communication training. The fourth will use a translational approach to examine whether the history of reinforcement affects resurgence. Dr. Megan Boyle of Missouri State University will then provide a discussion on each study and provide insight on how research and practice on functional analysis and function-based treatments continue to evolve.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): "function-based treatment", "functional analysis"
Target Audience:

Clinicians and individuals in academia

Some Effects of Functional Analysis on Problem Behavior Outside of Session
KARIE JOHN (University of South Florida), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida), Marlesha Bell (University of South Florida), Paige Talhelm (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Conducting a functional analysis (FA) is the most empirically supported method of determining problem behavior, yet clinicians report various barriers to conducting FAs. A common concern associated with conducting FAs is that by reinforcing problem behavior during assessment, problem behavior may increase outside of the assessment context (Hanley, 2012). However, little research has validated this concern. In fact, behavioral contrast research suggests the opposite may be more likely. Behavioral contrast can best be described as a change in behavior in one context as a result of the rate of reinforcement of the behavior in another context (Reynolds, 1961). The purpose of the current study was to evaluate problem behavior outside of the FA context. Response-stimulus sequences were observed through descriptive analysis across days as well as immediately preceding and following-FA sessions to examine temporal relations and the extent to which caregivers may influence behavior prior-to and post-FA. Our results suggest that problem behavior rate during an FA, reinforcement schedule, and time spent in the relevant establishing operation do not lead to increases in problem behavior outside of session. However, a change in caregiver behavior was observed for some subjects between pre-FA and post-FA observations.
An Application of the Trial-Based Functional Analysis to Assess Problem Behavior Evoked by Ritual Interruption
JENNIFER REBECCA WEYMAN (University of Missouri), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Claudia Campos (Florida Institute of Technology), Anna Garcia (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Restricted and repetitive behavior is one of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder. Restricted and repetitive behavior can severely interfere with the daily lives of children with autism spectrum disorder and their families as they are correlated with caregiver stress, may hinder skill acquisition, and may evoke severe problem behavior when they are interrupted. The trial-based functional analysis may be an effective method of identifying problem behavior evoked by ritual (i.e., complex restricted and repetitive behavior) interruption. Modifying the trial-based functional analysis to assess this function of problem behavior may help mitigate some risks associated with the traditional functional analysis, allow therapists and teachers with limited resources (e.g., time, space) to evaluate this function of problem behavior, and it may allow therapists and teachers to assess complex rituals that typically only occur in the natural environment. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to evaluate the use of the trial-based functional analysis to assess problem behavior associated with ritual interruption.

Development and Validation of the Waiting Assessment Interview Tool and Evaluation of Individualized Waiting Durations in Signaled Reinforcement

CLAUDIA CAMPOS (Florida Institute of Technology), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Jennifer Rebecca Weyman (University of Missouri), Anna Garcia (University of South Florida)

Indirect assessments are widely used in the development of behavior interventions. To date, there are no indirect assessments that can be used to evaluate the extent to which children who engage in problem behavior wait to receive reinforcement. However, there are effective behavior interventions to increase waiting. Functional communication training (FCT) and schedule thinning have been identified as effective interventions to increase waiting in children who engage in problem behavior maintained by social contingencies. Therefore, we conducted three studies to evaluate the use of an indirect assessment to increase waiting within an FCT and schedule treatment package in children with developmental disabilities. The purpose of the study was to develop the Waiting Assessment Interview Tool (WAIT) and to use the WAIT completed by informants to systematically individualize the initial component durations used during the schedule thinning procedure. A secondary purpose was to use the informants’ preferred waiting times as final waiting targets for all subjects.

Translational Evaluation of History Effects on Resurgence
PAIGE TALHELM (University of South Florida), Sarah E. Bloom (University of South Florida), Anthony Concepcion (University of South Florida), Andrew L. Samaha (University of South Florida)
Abstract: Resurgence is the reappearance of an extinguished operant response when an alternative behavior is subsequently treated with extinction (Podlesnik & Shahan, 2009). Behavior analysts typically encounter problem behavior with longer reinforcement history and alternative responses with shorter reinforcement histories. Because resurgence can be common and problematic, a potential solution to this problem is training multiple alternative responses. In the present study, undergraduate students were trained to engage in an arbitrary response analogous to problem behavior and two alternative responses. Each response was reinforced for three different durations to establish different reinforcement histories and then tested under conditions of resurgence. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the duration of exposure to reinforcement contingencies on resurgence when multiple alternative responses have been taught. Three subjects engaged in the target response most often, five subjects engaged in alternative responses most often, and one subject engaged in all response equally during resurgence.



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