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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #178
CE Offered: BACB
Extensions of Functional Analysis Methodology
Sunday, May 27, 2007
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Betsy A
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Brian A. Iwata, Ph.D.

Research presented in this symposium will illustrate methodological extensions of functional analysis procedures, including naturalistic (classroom) application and assessment of high-intensity and low-frequency problem behavior, as well as clinical extension to self-injurious behavior in a specific genetic disorder (Prader-Willi Syndrome).

Evaluation of a Trial-Based Approach to Functional Analysis in Classroom Settings.
SARAH ELIZABETH BLOOM (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Florida), Eileen M. Roscoe (New England Center for Children), Abbey Carreau (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Results of a previous study (Sigafoos & Saggers, 1995) suggested that a trial-based approach to functional analysis, which could be conducted in the classroom, might be a viable way to identify reinforcers that maintain problem behavior. However, due to the small N, the limited assessment conditions that were included, and the absence of a comparison with an acceptable standard, the generality of findings remains unclear. We evaluated a modified, trial based functional analysis (TBFA) by comparing its results with those of a more typical functional analysis in assessing problem behaviors exhibited by 10 students. Results indicated a 40%-70% correspondence rate (depending on how much data were taken during the TBFA) and suggest that the TBFA may be a viable assessment method when resources to conduct a standard functional analysis are unavailable.
An Empirical Approach for Identifying Precursors to Problem Behavior.
JENNIFER N. FRITZ (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Sarah Elizabeth Bloom (University of Florida), Jennifer Lynn Hammond (University of Florida), Carrie M. Dempsey (University of Florida)
Abstract: Results of several studies have shown that some individuals engage in multiple problem behavior and that some topographies reliably precede the occurrence of others (i.e., the responses are hierarchically ordered members of a response class). The initial identification of “precursor” behaviors, however, has been based on caregiver verbal report or informal observations, which may be prone to errors due to poor reliability, inadequate sampling, etc. We evaluated an empirical method for identifying precursors to problem behavior based on the use of descriptive analysis, whose strength is the identification of correlational relations. We developed a standard set of definitions for 7 clusters of potential precursors that accommodated a wide range of response topographies (approximately 20) in addition to the participant’s target behavior and collected data on the occurrence of all topographies under varied naturalistic conditions. Based on results of conditional probability analyses, functional analyses were conducted on selected “precursor” topographies and subsequently on the target problem behavior. Results indicated that problem behaviors were, in fact, typically preceded by specific response topographies, which shared the same function as the problem behavior.
Functional Analysis of Low-Rate Problem Behavior.
NATALIE ROLIDER (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Erin Camp (University of Florida), Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Florida)
Abstract: Problem behavior that occurs rarely presents a special challenge for both assessment and treatment. We evaluated a model for altering standard functional analysis conditions after initial results yielded undifferentiated, low-rate responding. Variables that may increase low-rate behavior were identified and systematically manipulated during social-reinforcement sessions. (a) Noncontingent attention and tangible items were delivered to peer confederates during sessions while the participant was ignored (combined establishing operations). (b) Consequences were delivered for longer durations (enhanced reinforcer characteristics). (c) Participants were given access to attention and preferred tangibles during the escape interval of demand conditions (combined contingencies). (d) An additional manipulation involved conducting longer sessions (increased exposure to contingencies). Functional analysis sessions were conducted until differentiated rates of responding were observed in one or more of the modified conditions. In some cases, a further analysis of the idiosyncratic variables influencing participants’ responding was conducted. Results are discussed in terms of implications for the treatment of problem behavior that occurs at low rates.
Functional Analysis of Self-Injurious Behavior in the Prader-Willi Syndrome.
PAMELA L. NEIDERT (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Claudia L. Dozier (University of Florida), Jessica L. Thomason (University of Florida)
Abstract: It has been noted that individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) often engage in self-injurious behavior. The most commonly reported form of SIB is skin picking (Dykens & Shah, 2003). In the current study, we established the prevalence, frequency, and severity of SIB in individuals with PWS by way of a structured questionnaire sent to all providers registered with the National Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of the USA. Second, we conducted experimental analyses to identify the functional characteristics of SIB in a sample of PWS individuals. Results are discussed in terms of form and function of SIB in individuals with PWS, as well as the implications these findings have for treatment development.



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