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 #193
The Impact of Caregiver Involvement in Experimental and Descriptive Analyses
Sunday, May 27, 2007
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Annie AB
Area: DDA; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Eric Boelter (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: John A. Northup (University of Iowa)
Abstract: Caregivers have been used as therapists within experimental analysis methodology (e.g., Cooper et al., 1990, Northup et al., 1991) and as data collectors within descriptive analyses. The current collection of papers highlights the importance of including caregivers within the analysis of problem behavior while also discussing some unique challenges that occur when caregivers are asked to participate in highly technical assessments. First, John Huete, Paticia Kurtz, and Michelle Chin present data showing how the use of caregivers as therapists within functional analyses with young children can alter rates of problem behaviors when compared to analyses conducted with unfamilar therapists. Next, Nathan Call, Karen Rader, and Katherine Powers discuss the challenge of maintaining procedural integrity when caregivers are used as therapists within a functional analysis. These authors present data showing a procedural alteration that increased caregiver integrity. Finally, Katherine Powers, Michael Kelley, Jane Morton, and Jeb Jones present data showing a low level of correspondence between descriptive analyses conducted by caregivers and more formal experimental analyses, and provide information on methods for training caregivers to improve this correspondence. In summary, these papers discuss relevant issues in the inclusion of caregivers in the assessment of their children’s challenging behaviors.
Therapist Effects on Functional Analysis Outcomes with Young Children.
JOHN M. HUETE (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michelle D. Chin (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: While the research literature strongly supports functional analysis (FA) methodology (Iwata et al., 1982/1994) as the most valid means of identifying factors that maintain severe behavior problems, research examining FA with very young children is limited. One potential caveat of FA methodology with young children is the use of unfamiliar persons to conduct assessments. It is well known that young children alter their responses in the presence of unfamiliar persons (Ainsworth, Blehar, & Waters, 1978). Therefore, using unfamiliar persons to conduct FAs with young children may impact the outcomes of those FAs. Indeed, recent studies have demonstrated that rates of and maintaining variables for problem behavior differed as a function of using familiar or unfamiliar persons in analog FAs (English & Anderson, 2004; McAdam. DiCesare, Murphy, & Marshall, 2004; Ringdahl & Sellers, 2000). These studies, however, did not focus on very young children, for whom developmental factors may play a key role in FA outcomes. The current presentation will summarize the FA outcomes for 5 children, ages 2 – 5 years. For each participant, analog functional analyses were conducted with hospital staff and caregivers separately conducting sessions. Data will be presented that further support the impact of therapist familiarity on FA outcomes. These results will be discussed in relation to the consideration of developmental factors in the conduct of FA methodology.
Increasing Procedural Integrity with Parents as Therapists during Brief Functional Analyses.
NATHAN CALL (The Marcus Institute), Karen Rader (Louisiana State University), Katherine V. Powers (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: One manner in which functional analysis methods have been adapted for use in outpatient clinics has been to have care providers serve as therapists (Northup et al., 1991). By including care providers, assessments may be completed in less time because their presence may function as discriminative stimuli. A potential drawback of using care providers as therapists is that they may not always implement assessment procedures with high integrity. The current study attempted to evaluate the usefulness of a simplified brief functional analysis methodology that manipulated only the antecedent variable in each test condition, in an effort to increase procedural integrity by care providers. Results of the simplified functional analysis were contrasted with those of a standard brief functional analysis that manipulated both antecedents and consequences. Data were examined for consistency of functional reinforcers identified as well as differences in procedural integrity across type of assessment. Interobserver agreement data were collected for greater than 20% of sessions and always exceeded 80% agreement for all dependent variables. Results of the two assessment methodologies matched with respect to the reinforcers identified to be maintaining problem behavior, and care providers were able to maintain higher integrity with the simplified functional analysis.
An Evaluation of Correspondence Between Caregiver Descriptive Analysis and Experimental Analysis.
KATHERINE V. POWERS (The Marcus Institute), Michael E. Kelley (The Marcus Institute and Emory University), Jane Morton (University of Georgia), Jeb Jones (The Marcus Institute)
Abstract: Experimental analyses have been shown to be more effective for treatment selection than basing intervention on either descriptive analyses or arbitrarily selected treatments (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003). Previous research has also evaluated the extent to which non-experimental data collection procedures may aid in determining the function of problem behavior (Anderson & Long, 2002; Mueller, Sterling-Turner, & Scattone, 2001; Tang, Kennedy, Koppekin, & Caruso, 2002). In the current study, we arranged for caregivers to collect antecedent-behavior-consequence data for occurrences of problem behavior. Next, we conducted experimental analyses of problem behavior and evaluated the extent to which the results of the analyses provided similar information. Results suggested that parental reports were correlated at low-to-moderate levels with experimental analyses. Finally, we initiated training with caregivers to improve identification of potential antecedents that evoke and consequences that maintain problem behavior.



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