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

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Symposium #140
Function-Based Assessment and Behavior Intervention in School Programs
Sunday, May 29, 2005
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Williford C (3rd floor)
Area: EDC; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Mary Meehan Taylor (The Institute for Effective Education)
Discussant: Kenneth Traupmann (The Institute for Effective Education)
Abstract: The Institute for Effective Education (TIEE) is a science based educational organization serving a variety of educational needs for the community of San Diego. Currently it provides Special Education programs serving students age 3-21 with Autism, Developmental Delays, Behavior Disorders and Learning Disabilities as well as typically developing k-8 students in a private school program. TIEE has a track record of success in making important changes in the lives of its’ students and credits this success to its' commitment to using scientifically validated methods and materials. Towards that end, TIEE has adopted the principles and practices of Direct Instruction, Precision Teaching and Applied Behavior Analysis. The purpose of this symposium is to demonstrate TIEE's application of the ABA practice of targeting behavior change via function based assessment and intervention. Case studies will be presented, each detailing an analysis of severe problem behavior (i.e., self-injury and assault) for three boys with Autism, ranging in age from 7 to 18. The results of implementing behavior intervention plans based on identified functions will be presented as well. Descriptions of functional assessment methods, summary of data from assessments as well as on-going data on the effectiveness of the function-based interventions will also be presented.
Function-Based Intervention to Treat Problem Behaviors Maintained by Access to Preferred Items and Activities
HILLARY WHITESIDE (The Institute for Effective Education), Carol Nielsen (The Institute for Effective Education)
Abstract: JS, a seven-year old boy with autism, enrolled in TIEE’s Children’s Workshop program for students with autism and other related disorders in fall 2001. At this time, JS engaged in episodes of severe tantrum behaviors including screaming, making verbal threats against himself, leaving his instructional area, self-injurious behaviors (e.g., slapping, punching face, pulling hair) and assaultive behaviors (e.g., hitting, kicking, biting). Upon enrollment, tantrums occurred an average of 5.1 episodes per day and ranged in duration from 1 to 90 minutes with a mean of 13 minutes. Intensity of tantrum episodes ranged from bouts of tears and threats to tissue damage (e.g., cuts and bruises) of self and teachers. A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) was developed following a review of data collected, an analysis of information gathered by ongoing functional assessment, direct classroom observations and interviews with parents and teachers. The BIP involved extinction of the inappropriate behaviors while socially appropriate alternative and adaptive behaviors were reinforced in the presence of identified antecedents. On-going revisions were made to the plan based on charted data. No episodes of tantrum behavior have been observed since April 2003. Additionally, significant increases in progress toward academic goals have been documented as well.
Reducing Severe Assaultive Tantrum Behavior in an Eleven-Year Old Boy with Autism
JENNIFER MAYS (The Institute for Effective Education), Mary Meehan Taylor (The Institute for Effective Education), Jennifer L. Walk (The Institute for Effective Education)
Abstract: CV enrolled in TIEE’s Young Persons’ Annex program for adolescent students with severe language impairments, including Autism in the fall of 2003. CV immediately began to display episodes of severe problem including repeated punching, hitting, kicking, pushing and head butting. In his first month of enrollment, CV averaged 7.5 assaultive episodes per day with an average duration of 12 minutes per episode. The intensity of his assaultive behavior ranged from hits that left no marks on the targeted individual’s body to head butts causing severe injury (e.g., concussion) to others. Functional analysis observation data were collected for every event using a data collection procedure advocated by O'Neill, Horner, Albin, Storey & Sprague (1990). From these data a Competing Pathways Analysis (Sugai, Palmer & Hagan, 1998) was completed. This led to the development of a functional hypothesis from which a behavior intervention plan (BIP) was developed. The BIP was designed to differentially reinforce targeted adaptive behaviors while assaultive behaviors were placed on an extinction schedule. Within 3 months of the implementation of the BIP, CV’s assaultive tantrums decreased to an average of 0.15 assaultive episodes per day, with an average duration of <3 minutes per episode.
Using Preference Assessments to Assist in Functionally Analyzing a New Antecedent to Assaultive Behavior
SHARON HODGES (The Institute for Effective Education), Mary Meehan Taylor (The Institute for Effective Education), Jennifer Mays (The Institute for Effective Education)
Abstract: CD is an 18-year student with Autism currently participating in TIEE’s Community Living Program for adolescents with language impairments and developmental delays. Two and half years earlier, while participating in another TIEE program, a functional analysis assessment was conducted and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) developed for punctuated assaultive behaviors. At that time, the function of the problem behavior was determined to be escape of peers who tease and/or touch. The BIP, which targeted teaching an appropriate alternative behavior to assaults, was successful in that the frequency and intensity of assaultive behaviors were significantly reduced; however, CD did not self-initiate his alternative behavior (i.e., he engaged in the this behavior under prompted conditions only). In September of 2004, a new antecedent to the same problem behavior topography appeared to emerge. A new functional assessment was conducted, including an analysis of preference and CD’s ability to reliably identify personal likes and dislikes. From this analysis, a new alternative behavior was identified and trained. Early results indicate that this new behavior has generalized to the previously identified antecedent to assaultive behavior and that self-initiation is now beginning to emerge for both alternative behavior topographies.



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