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 #181
Measurement Issues in Interventions for Toddlers with Autism and Their Families
Sunday, May 27, 2007
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Elizabeth F
Area: AUT/CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Shahla S. Ala'i-Rosales (University of North Texas)
Discussant: John R. Lutzker (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Direct observation of parent-child interactions is an integral component of effective parent training programs. The evaluation methods employed by service providers during interventions are intended to facilitate meaningful treatment outcomes. Methodological variations have been investigated with many populations; however, few studies have addressed methods within the context of parents and their toddlers with autism. The purpose of this symposium is to present three methodological studies that explore efficient, reliable and informative ways to gather information that should aid the intervention process. Each of the studies was conducted within the Family Connections Project (FCP), an intervention program for toddlers with autism and their families. The first study (Laino, et al) analyzes the comparability and efficiency of varying durations of observations periods throughout the course of treatment in both home and clinic settings. The second study (Broome, et al.) builds on previous literature addressing methods to quantify quality of life indicators by developing a multilevel data system to evaluate “happiness” in parents and children. The final study (Besner, et al.) explores methods to measure “learn units” within naturalistic and parent delivered teaching interactions. John Lutzker, a noted expert in behavioral parenting programs, will discuss the methods and results of each of the studies.
The Comparability and Efficiency of Varying Assessment Durations Employed in a Parent-Toddler Intervention Program.
KATHLEEN S. LAINO (University of North Texas), Shahla S. Ala'i-Rosales (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas), Amanda C. Besner (University of North Texas), Andrea Newcomer (University of North Texas), Nicole Suchomel (University of North Texas), Allison Jones (University of North Texas), Nicole Zeug (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Research with toddlers with autism and their parents has primarily focused on demonstrating treatment effectiveness. Effectiveness is typically assessed by evaluation of directly observed samples of behavior before, during and after intervention. Durations of the sampling, or assessments periods, reported in the literature vary from 1 min. to 1 hr. Given the potential for dramatic and important behavior change , the window of opportunity in early childhood, and the time and costs of data collection and analysis, it would be useful to understand the limitations and strengths of varying lengths of assessment periods. This presentation describes a research study that examined various durations (1m, 5m and 10m) of direct observation during a parent-training program. Continuous ten-minute samples were collected throughout baseline and intervention and in home and clinic settings. These samples were broken down into 1 minute, 5 minute and ten minute blocks. Target parent and child skills were then analyzed using the different sampling periods across all experimental conditions and behaviors. The results are discussed in the context of comparability, utility, and efficiency. Implications for the design of parent training programs for at risk populations are discussed.
Measures of Happiness in Behavioral Parent Training Programs.
JESSICA LESLIE BROOME (University of North Texas), Shahla S. Ala'i-Rosales (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas), Andrea Newcomer (University of North Texas), Nicole Suchomel (University of North Texas), Allison Jones (University of North Texas), Nicole Zeug (University of North Texas), Amanda C. Besner (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Research suggests that parents of children with autism experience higher stress levels than parents of typically developing children. It has been suggested that naturalistic parent education programs may reduce parental stress. Most of the literature in this area has relied on parental reports and has focused on decreasing stress rather than increasing alternate feelings, such as happiness. Happiness is considered a quality of life indicator. An emphasis has been placed on the importance and usefulness of multileveled assessments to evaluate happiness. This present study was designed to investigate a series of “happiness” measures within a data-based program designed to enhance the quality of life between toddlers with autism and their families. Video taped assessments were used to collect direct measures of behaviors thought to be indices of parental happiness or stress (e.g., smiles, depreciating comments). Independent judges were asked to rate parent and child affect after viewing randomly presented video clips of target and control families. The parent’s verbal behavior was also recorded throughout the training program and pre and post parental goals and descriptions were documented. Results are discussed in the context of skill changes during the intervention and how those changes relate to the multilevel happiness assessments.
Identifying a Learn Unit: Direct Observation and Social Validity Issues in Autism Parent Training Programs.
AMANDA C. BESNER (University of North Texas), Shahla S. Ala'i-Rosales (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-ruiz (University of North Texas), Nicole Zeug (University of North Texas), Nicole Suchomel (University of North Texas), Jessica Leslie Broome (University of North Texas), Kathleen S. Laino (University of North Texas)
Abstract: A learn unit is defined as a three-term contingency. This contingency consists of a teacher response (antecedent) a student response (behavior) and another teacher response (consequence). These three components are linked together in that each component should be responsive to the other components. Learn units have primarily been measured in academic or school settings. In these settings learn units have been shown to be positively correlated with increases in correct student responses. It follows that measurement of learn units may be useful in other settings, such as the home and community, or with other behaviors, such as play and social skills. Measurement under different conditions requires adaptation of previous definitions. The purpose of the current investigation was to determine if, using a modified definition, a learn unit can be reliably and consistently measured during naturalistic teaching by parents who are targeting play, social and communication skills in their toddlers with autism. Of particular interest is the relationships between rates of learn units and desired family responding throughout the course of intervention. Specific responding evaluated within the context of learn unit frequency included parent and child progress on IFSP goals and parental and independent judge reports of social validity.



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