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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #269
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Assessment for Covert Behavior Problems
Sunday, May 24, 2009
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
North 120 A
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Discussant: Raymond G. Miltenberger (University of South Florida)
CE Instructor: Jessica C. Tomasi, M.S.
Abstract: Many severe behavior problems displayed by individuals with developmental disabilities (or people in general for that matter) occur frequently when no one is watching or especially when no one is watching. The three papers in this symposium are based around the common theme of evaluating such covert behavior problems. The first paper, presented by Jorge Reyes, reports a behavioral assessment of covert problem behavior (viewing and stealing child-related photographs from magazines) displayed by adult male sex offenders. The second paper, presented by Meagan Gregory, reports a behavioral assessment and intervention for covert self-injurious behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. The third paper, presented by Amanda Rone, reports a behavioral assessment and intervention for covert food stealing displayed by individuals diagnosed with Pradi-Willi Syndrome. The discussant is Raymond Miltenberger, who is well known for the development of behavioral assessment models for covert behavior. Many of the assessment components in this symposium were based at least in part on Miltenberger’s work.
The Use of In Situ Assessments for Sex Offenders with Developmental Disabilities
JORGE RAFAEL REYES (Westfield State College), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Cristina M. Whitehouse (University of Florida), Gregory Jansen (State of Florida/Seguin Unit)
Abstract: The assessment and treatment of sex offenders has typically revolved around evaluating and attempting to eliminate arousal to inappropriate stimuli (i.e., individuals under the age of 18). Whereas focusing on arousal is critical, it may only capture features of sexual offending that are respondent in nature. Other factors may be operant in nature and also important to consider in the sexual offense process. For example, how an individual behaves while in potentially high-risk situations (e.g., presence of children), would be important to determine. Furthermore, how an individual behaves in social situations (e.g., presence of appropriately aged peers) may have important implications as well. For example, having the necessary social skills to engage in conversation with a potential sexual partner of a similar age may make them less likely to pursue inappropriate sexual targets. The present studies involved assessing sex offenders diagnosed with developmental disabilities in high-risk and social situations. Specifically, we investigated how individuals responded while in the presence of high-risk materials (e.g., magazines with pictures of children) and when given the opportunity to interact with appropriately aged individuals. Assessment results showed a range of responses; however, in all cases, the methodology proved useful in identifying targets for behavior change.
Treatment of covert Self-injury Maintained by Automatic Reinforcement
MEAGAN GREGORY (University of Florida), Griffin W. Rooker (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: Problem behavior that occurs solely under covert conditions can be difficult to assess and treat because it may be seen rarely. The purpose of this study was to evaluate two procedures that may produce reductions in covert self-injury (SIB) maintained by automatic reinforcement: stimulus control training and contingencies on response products (i.e., tissue damage). The effectiveness of these interventions was examined both during sessions and across the day. First, stimulus control was established during sessions by pairing a stimulus with the appearance of a therapist who delivered a verbal reprimand contingent on self-injury. If this produced reductions in SIB, the signal was placed throughout the subject’s environment. If SIB reemerged, contingencies were placed on the appearance of tissue damage.
Assessment and Treatment of Food Stealing in Individuals With Prader-Willi Syndrome
AMANDA J. B. RONE (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: The most significant behavioral characteristic of the Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is hyperphagia, or excessive food consumption, which can result in life-threatening health conditions. Food stealing is a commonly reported problem behavior in individuals with PWS that occurs covertly; thus, the behavior has been examined in very few studies. One purpose of this study was to develop a procedure for assessing covert food stealing in individuals with PWS under different types of conditions: (a) a natural setting where food was present but a therapist was absent, (b) a task condition (not involving the handling off food) during which food was present but the therapist was absent, and (c) a task condition involving the handling of food, during which the therapist was present but periodically “distracted.” The second purpose of the study was to evaluate a differential reinforcement procedure for reducing food stealing.



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