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; Online; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #39
CE Offered: BACB
The Application of Concurrent-Operants Methodologies for Evaluating Stimulus Functions With Individuals With Problem Behavior
Saturday, May 23, 2020
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Chelsea R. Fleck (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)
Discussant: Iser Guillermo DeLeon (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Chelsea R. Fleck, M.S.

Clinicians may implement a number of preliminary assessments (e.g., functional analyses, demand assessments, preference assessments, etc.) prior to developing behavioral programs for clients with autism. The researchers in this symposium will describe two applications of concurrent-operants preparations for evaluating stimulus functions prior to initiating treatment. Lindsay Lloveras and colleagues will describe a concurrent-operant demand assessment (CODA) to identify a hierarchy of preferred and nonpreferred demands. Allie Rader and colleagues will describe a concurrent-operants assessment for determining the relative reinforcing efficacy of events hypothesized to maintain problem behavior. Implications for practitioners and applied researchers will be discussed.

Target Audience:

Graduate students in behavior analysis, clinicians working with individuals with problem behavior, applied researchers

Learning Objectives: 1. Participants will describe the utility of concurrent-operant methodologies for evaluating relative stimulus functions (e.g., task preference and potential reinforcement for problem behavior). 2. Participants will describe the utility of a concurrent-operant demand assessment (CODA) for evaluating task preference, measuring relative responding during identified demands, and potential implications for individuals with problem behavior. 3. Participants will describe how to use a concurrent-operant assessment to evaluate the effects of potential reinforcing functions for problem behavior.

Evaluation of a Concurrent Operant Demand Assessment to Determine Task Preference

Lindsay Lloveras (University of Florida ), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children), Sarah Slocum (Marcus Autism Center and Emory School of Medicine), CHELSEA R. FLECK (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)

We conducted a concurrent operant demand assessment (CODA) to identify a hierarchy of preference for demands in 17 individuals who exhibited problem behavior. We presented demands in pairs, with selection between demands serving as the primary dependent variable. The reinforcing efficacy of escape from the most- and least-selected demands from the CODA were evaluated for 7 participants using progressive ratio (PR) schedules. Outcomes from the PR analysis corresponded with the rank order of demands from the CODA. Four of these seven participants were subsequently exposed to a brief CODA with only two items, which consisted of successive presentations of the most- and least-selected demands from the CODA. Outcomes of the brief CODA corresponded with the PR analysis and CODA for 3 out of 4 participants. These results suggest that the CODA might be an effective technology to determine a hierarchy of preference of demands for assessment and treatment purposes.

A Concurrent Operants Assessment to Infer Function of Problem Behavior
ALLISON RADER (Endicott College), Cara L. Phillips (May Institute), Justin B. Leaf (Autism Partnership Foundation), Cynthia M. Anderson (May Institute)
Abstract: In some cases, a formal functional analysis (FA) of problem behavior may be contraindicated. A concurrent operants paradigm may provide an alternative procedure to evaluate response-contingent outcomes hypothesized to maintain challenging behavior. An adolescent diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder who displays severe challenging behavior participated in the current study following completion of an FA. When a clear function did not emerge, possibly due to frequently shifting motivating operation (MO), an attention preference assessment was conducted in order to identify the type of attention to provide in a concurrent operants assessment. The participant nearly exclusively selected physical attention in the form of blocking. In the concurrent operant assessment, the participant selected between four arbitrary stimuli, each associated with one of the following conditions: (a) attention (i.e., blocking), (b) tangibles (i.e., iPad), (c) attention and tangibles simultaneously, or (d) no reinforcement (i.e., control). Frequency of response allocation and challenging behavior may indicate preference for reinforcers that are hypothesized to maintain challenging behavior. This inference can then be used to inform the treatment of challenging behavior.



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