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 #96
CE Offered: BACB
Celebrating Successes in School-Based Applications of Behavior Analysis
Saturday, May 23, 2020
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Natalie Taylor Mueller (Western Michigan University )
Discussant: Judah B. Axe (Simmons University)
CE Instructor: Judah B. Axe, Ph.D.

Behavior analysts can play an important role in the implementation of evidence-based strategies in school settings (Kohler & Strain, 1992). Support to students and teachers in a wide variety of contexts often leads to better student outcomes and classroom management (Johnson & Street, 2012; Malott & Moran, 2004). As such, this symposium highlights four different applications of behavior analysis in school settings. (1) The application of trial-based function analysis (TBFA) in public schools when functional behavior assessments (FBAs) were inconclusive. The feasibility of TBFAs will be addressed. (2) The use of behavioral skills training (BST) and coaching to train special education teachers to implement incidental teaching to increase verbal operants in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Considerations for teacher training and methods to improve verbal behavior will be analyzed. (3) A study that examined pre-meal presentation of vegetables to increase vegetable consumption for children with autism spectrum disorder. Recommendations for intervening on food selectivity will be examined. (4) A teacher-implemented toilet training procedure with two elementary students. Considerations for toilet training in formal educational settings will be discussed. Implications for the application of behavior analysis in school settings are addressed.

Target Audience:

Practitioners, graduate students, educators

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain the benefits of using a trial-based functional analysis in public school settings; (2) describe an effective intervention to increase incidental teaching among special education teachers; (3) list the steps in a procedure to increase vegetable consumption among individuals with ASD; (4) describe successful toileting practices in a school setting.

When Functional Behavior Assessments are Inconclusive: Applying Trial-Based Functional Analyses in the Public Schools

ANNIE MCLAUGHLIN (Annie McLaughlin Consulting, LLC), Alex Furman (Baltimore County Public Schools)

The use of a functional behavior assessment to assess challenging behaviors in public schools is a widely accessed, evidence-based practice and required by state and federal laws. However, due to the variability of the environment in a school, a functional behavior assessment can often produce ambiguous or difficult to interpret outcomes which impacts the effectiveness of the selected interventions. Trial-based functional analyses have been shown as an effective method to identify problem behavior in schools. This study was designed when FBAs completed by the school system personnel were inconclusive and challenging behaviors remained severe and dangerous. This study expanded the use of trial-based functional analyses into a public school special education classroom for two students with autism and intellectual disabilities after FBAs were inconclusive. All trial-based functional analyses resulted in identification of behavioral functions and subsequent interventions were taught by teachers and paraprofessionals. Additional social validity data were collected about the feasibility of using trial-based functional analyses and associated interventions from the public school teachers and paraprofessionals.

Increasing Teacher’s Use of Incidental Teaching to Target Mands, Tacts, and Intraverbals
SACHA T. PENCE (Drake University), Kim Danielle Krubinski (Auburn), Carol J Toner (Auburn ), Doris Adams Hill (Auburn University College of Education)
Abstract: One way to improve communication skills for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is to provide frequent opportunities for children to practice and learn mands, tacts, and intraverbals. To accomplish this, it is important to train teachers and other school personnel to understand and use incidental teaching to target different verbal operants. The purpose of the study was to use a multiple-baseline across-participants design to evaluate behavior skills training (BST) with coaching to train school personnel to use incidental teaching to teach mand, tacts, and intraverbals. Six females who were currently enrolled in a practicum to become bachelor’s level or Master’s level Special Education teachers participated in dyads with a child with ASD. Trainees were provided with brief instructions on each verbal operant and then observed the experiment using incidental teaching for the target verbal operant (mand, tact, or intraverbal). Following modeling, the trainee worked with the child with ASD while the experimenter provided coaching in the form of in-situ feedback and feedback. Following BST and coaching, trainees’ use of incidental teaching to teach mands, tacts, and intraverbals increased. Improvements in children’s verbal behavior was observed.

Increasing Vegetable Consumption of Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Pre-Meal Presentation: A Preliminary Analysis

JONATHAN W. IVY (The Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg ), Lauren Davidson (The Hogan Learning Academy ), Ben Bacon (The Hogan Learning Academy), Fred E. Carriles (Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg), Helen Hendy (Penn State University, Schuylkill), Keith Williams (Penn State Hershey Medical Center)

Food selectivity is a common behavioral concern for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Schreck, Williams, and Smith (2004) found that 72% of children with ASD were reported by parents/guardians to consume a limited range of food items. This study examined the effect of pre-meal presentation on the consumption of vegetables in a sample of 16 students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These 16 students (75% male; mean age = 13 years; age range 8-19 years) were enrolled in a private school serving children with autism. Researchers offered participants 10 small pieces of two vegetables during lunch (baseline) or prior to lunch (pre-meal presentation). Observers recorded the number of bites students consumed. The pre-meal presentation condition was associated with increased levels of vegetable consumption for 9 of the 16 participants. A reversal to baseline demonstrated expected decreases in bites consumed and the subsequent return to intervention demonstrated expected increases in bites consumed. Our results suggested the pre-meal presentation of vegetables can serve as a low-cost, low-effort intervention for increasing consumption of vegetables for some children with ASD.

Successful Toilet Training in Schools
ALYSSA R. JEWETT (Western Michigan University), Jessica E. Frieder (Western Michigan University), Ryan Thomas Glasgow (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Incontinence is a frequently cited and significant obstacle for students with developmental disabilities (Cicero & Pfadt, 2002). Little research is available to support toileting procedures in school settings with limited oversight from trained clinicians (Cocchiola, Martino, Dwyer, & Demezzo, 2012; Luiselli, 1997). Cocchiola and colleagues expanded the toileting literature by implementing a consultative model focused on school staff implementing toilet training procedures with five students with special needs in a preschool classroom. The current project aimed to systematically replicate their model by using a similar treatment package in an early elementary special education classroom. Classroom staff implemented toilet training procedures with two elementary students with developmental disabilities. The program included an initial didactic training on the procedures, scheduled trips to the bathroom, informal preference assessments, positive reinforcement for successful voids, and procedures for teaching self-initiations. Both students achieved mastery criteria during scheduled bathroom visits of 120-minutes and increased self-initiations. Outcomes suggest the treatment package may be a practical model for classroom staff to effectively implement a toilet training procedure. Future directions include addressing increasing treatment integrity and examining the impact for students with similar needs in school-based settings.



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