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.


Fourth International Conference; Australia, 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #60
CE Offered: BACB
Assessing Change from Behavioral Treatment of Children with Autism
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
9:30 AM–10:50 AM
L2 Room 5
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
CE Instructor: Gerald E. Harris, Ph.D.

Demonstrating reliable changes in children with Autism from behavioral intervention is crucial to advancing the science of ABA. Scientific and accurate representation of treatment benefits is necessary to show others the value of ABA for this population. The 3 presentations in this symposium present data that increases the psychometric knowledge, and thus the utility, of the most widely used measures of intelligence and behavior problems in the autistic population. Data were collected from comprehensive assessments of a large sample of children diagnosed with autistic disorder as they participated in behavioral treatment programs. Sample sizes for the data analytic procedures are thus much larger than usually seen in this area. The first presentation presents a method for determining the reliability of change scores on the most popular comprehensive intelligence test, the WPPSI-III. The second presentation looks at an initial normative base for the WPPSI-III for use with children with autism. The third presentation investigates the interobserver agreement and outcome utility of an efficient behavior report instrument, the CBCL, for this special population. Together, these presentations advance our ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of behavioral interventions.

The Reliability of Change: The Clinical Significance of Outcome Data for Children with Autism.
GERALD E. HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Wendy J. Neely (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Increasing research findings indicate that behavioral intervention does improve cognitive abilities in children with Autism. This presentation uses outcome data from a large sample of children with autism participating in behavioral treatment to address the reliability and clinical significance of cognitive change. Holw many children benefit, and to what degree? Pre-treatment and post-treatment cognitive test data from 95 young children participating in long-term behavioral treatment programs are examined using state of the art statistical procedures to assess change over time as well as the significance of that change across and within children. Findings support previous research that children with autism do exhibit increased cognitive ability following intervention, and show more clearly the extent and significance of the improvement. Implications for diagnostic and treatment outcome interpretations are discussed.
WPPSI-III Intelligence Test for Children: A Normative Database for Children with Autism.
WENDY J. NEELY (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project), Glen O. Sallows (Wisconsin Early Autism Project), Tamlynn Dianne Graupner (Wisconsin Early Autism Project)
Abstract: In order to properly diagnose, and then plan, monitor, and evaluate behavioral interventions, accurate assessment of cognitive abilities of children with autism is crucial . While frequently used, little is actuallyknown about the psychometrics of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence - 3rd Ed., for this population. Wechsler's study in the WPPSI-III Technical Manual (The Psychological Corporation, 2002) addressing utility for this special population has several significant methodological problems, including a very small sample size (n = 21), restrictions of age and I.Q., as well as unknown test administration and scoring procedures for the data. In the present study, data from standard initial administrations of the WPPSI-III for a much larger sample of children diagnosed with autism (n = 270), as well as subsequent administrations, were analyzed. The results compared to the findings from the Wechsler study. Significant differences were found in means and distributions of subtest and composite area standard scores. In particular, scores for lower functioning (I.Q. < 60) children with autism were very different, and the psychometrics of their responses changed over time. These results provide a foundation for development of norms specifically for use with children with autism.
Behavior Reports: Outcome Utility and Interobserver Agreement of the CBCL for Children with Autism.
GERI MARIA HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is one of the most widely used measures of child behavior, yet little is known about its psychometric properties in relation to children with autism. This study examined usefulness of the CBCL as an outcome measure for children with autism participating in behavioral treatment, including assessing the accuracy or interobserver agreement of parents in the autistic population. Levels of inter-parental agreement in the autistic population were also compared with the levels of inter-parental agreement in other populations, such as typically developing children and children in high-risk families. Results for a sample of 165 mother-father pairs show that parents of children with autism overall exhibit a high level of inter-observer agreement and that some treatment changes can be detected and measured by the CBCL.



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