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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #45
CE Offered: BACB
Functional Analysis and Treatment of Complex Interresponse Relations between Severe Behavior and Stereotypy
Saturday, May 28, 2005
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Continental A (1st floor)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Wayne W. Fisher (Marcus Autism Center)
CE Instructor: Louis P. Hagopian, Ph.D.

Although not typically targeted for intervention, stereotypic and ritualistic behaviors can be problematic when they occur at high rates, interfere with acquisition of new skills, or when they lead to more severe behavior such as aggression or self-injury. The current symposium will address issues related to the assessment and treatment of stereotypic and ritualistic behaviors that are functionally related to severe problem behavior. The first presentation will illustrate two forms of response-response relations: one in which blocking stereotypic behavior induces aggression; and one in which self-injury had a higher probability of occurrence following stereotypy (revealed via a conditional probability analysis). The second presentation will illustrate how severe problem behavior can be maintained by gaining access to materials that are necessary for engaging in automatically reinforced stereotypy. The third presentation will illustrate a similar response-response between complex ritualistic behavior and severe problem behavior. In addition to presenting assessment methodologies for identifying response-response relations between stereotypic behavior and severe problem behavior, interventions designed to reduce these behaviors, based on an analysis of those relations, will be presented and discussed.

Analysis and Intervention of Stereotypy-Severe Behavior Relations
ERIC BOELTER (Kennedy Krieger Institute), David E. Kuhn (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Stephanie A. Contrucci Kuhn (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Although not typically targeted for treatment, stereotypic behavior can be problematic when it is excessive such that it interferes with adaptive behavior or when it leads to more severe behavior. Data are presented from four individuals with developmental delays, ages 5-20 years, that engaged in various forms of stereotypic behavior that appeared related to aggression or self-injury. For the first two participants, response blocking for stereotypic behavior was found to occasion aggression. An intervention including competing stimuli targeting stereotypic behavior effectively reduced stereotypy as well as aggression. Conditional probability analyses were conducted with the other two participants and indicated that probability of problem behavior (self-injury) was increased following the occurrence of stereotypy. A procedure that interrupted engagement in stereotypy was then implemented and resulted in decreases in self-injury. These data suggest that stereotypy may function as part of a response chain that culminated in self-injury. Collectively, the findings suggest that response-response relations between
An Examination of the Relation Between Core and Associated Symptoms of Autism
ROBERT-RYAN S. PABICO (Marcus Autism Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Marcus Autism Center), Henry S. Roane (Marcus Autism Center), Terry S. Falcomata (Marcus Autism Center), Alyson N. Hovanetz (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Autism is a disorder characterized by core (e.g., stereotypic behavior) and associated symptoms (e.g., aggression, SIB). The present study examined the relationship between these two types of behavior exhibited by two boys diagnosed with autism. For both participants an alone analysis demonstrated that stereotypy (e.g., fast-forwarding and rewinding videos) persisted in the absence of social reinforcement (i.e., automatic reinforcement). Analyses of associated symptoms indicated that these responses were maintained, in part, by access to the materials necessary to engage in stereotypy (e.g., a television to manipulate). That is, the core and associated symptoms of autism were maintained by an interrelated functional relation. These results were used to develop an intervention in which the participants received access to stereotypy contingent upon appropriate communication while problem behavior was placed on extinction. Results indicated that the use of an alternative response decreased problematic behaviors to socially acceptable levels. Interobserver agreement, which was calculated for at least 25% of the sessions, exceeded 90% for both participants. Results are discussed in terms of examining potential interrelated functions between the essential and associated symptoms of autism.
Functional Analysis and Treatment of Problem Behavior Maintained by Access to Rituals-Permitted Situations Through the Use of Functional Communication and Discriminative Stimuli
STEPHANIE A. CONTRUCCI KUHN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Lynn G. Bowman (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Dawn E. Resau (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Lisa M. Toole (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Individuals with autism often display restricted patterns of behavior described as inflexible adherence to specific nonfunctional routines or rituals (DSM-IV-TR). It has been hypothesized that some individuals may engage in problem behavior to gain access to situations where ritualistic behavior is permitted (Murphy, Macdonald, Hall, & Oliver, 2000). However, experimental functional analyses and treatment evaluations targeting this behavioral function have not been described. In the current study, functional analyses indicated that the problem behavior of two individuals functioned to gain access to rituals-permitted situations. The individuals were taught to communicate for permission to engage in rituals using picture exchange. Next, a discriminative stimulus was used to signal periods of time when reinforcement for communication was available and another stimulus was used to signal periods of time when reinforcement was not available (i.e., extinction was in place for communication). Both procedures were used in conjunction with extinction for problem behavior. This intervention was effective in reducing problem behavior for the two children who participated. For one participant, the discriminative stimuli alone were effective in reducing problem behavior at the terminal schedule goal. For the other participant, schedule thinning with discriminative stimuli was necessary in order to maintain low levels of problem behavior.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh