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 #210
Recent Developments in the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Challenging Behavior
Sunday, May 29, 2005
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Continental C (1st floor)
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Chaturi Edrisinha (University of Texas, Austin)
Abstract: Severe challenging behavior continues to be one of the primary barriers to habilitation for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. In this symposium we present four papers that extend our knowledge of the assessment and treatment of this behavior disorder. In the first paper the authors will describe the effects of contingent versus noncontingent positive reinforcement delivered during the treatment of escape-maintained challenging behavior. Implications for the treatment of negatively reinforced behavior are outlined. In the second paper a methodology for examining the influence of establishing operations on the discriminated operant will be proposed. The results of this analysis has implications for the use of antecedent interventions. The third paper examines the influence of instructional modifications on escape-maintained challenging behavior. The final paper compares arbitrarily chosen interventions versus functionally-based interventions on chronic handmouthing. The results of these papers contribute further information regarding assessment and treatment selection with such challenging behavior.
A Comparison of Contingent and Noncontingent Positive Reinforcement in the Treatment of Escape-Maintained Inappropriate Behavior
NICHOL M. MOREY (The Ohio State University), Stephanie M. Peterson (Idaho State University), Laura Lacy Rismiller (The Ohio State University), Renee Koehler Van Norman (The Ohio State University), Jamie Hughes (University of Kent)
Abstract: Previous research by Lalli et al. (1999) has shown that appropriate behavior can be increased when it results in positive reinforcement and negatively reinforced inappropriate behavior produces a break. The current study sought to replicate and extend Lalli et al.’s research in order to determine whether this increase in appropriate behavior was due to the contingent presentation of positive reinforcement or due to an overall increase in reinforcement. Following a functional analysis to determine what variables maintained the participant’s inappropriate behavior, an intervention analysis, during which the procedures of Lalli et al. were replicated by providing positive reinforcement (i.e., access to an edible item) contingent upon appropriate behavior and negative reinforcement (i.e., 30-s break) contingent upon inappropriate behavior was implemented. Next, the results of Lalli et al. were extended by providing the participant with noncontingent positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, while inappropriate behavior continued to produce negative reinforcement. The results showed that noncontingent positive reinforcement produced increased appropriate behavior that was similar to levels of appropriate behavior when positive reinforcement was provided contingent upon appropriate behavior. Results are discussed in terms of motivating operations for inappropriate problem behavior.
Examination of the Influence of the Establishing Operation on the Evocative Effectiveness of the Discriminative Stimulus
CHATURI EDRISINHA (University of Texas, Austin), Mark O'Reilly (University of Texas, Austin), Jeffrey S. Sigafoos (University of Texas, Austin), Helen Cannella (University of Texas, Austin), Anjali Barretto (Gonzaga University)
Abstract: The secondary laws of reflex the (Skinner, 1931) specify quantitatively the dependence of the primary reflex relationships on values of various other factors, now referred to as Establishing Operations (EO). The effect of the EO on problem behavior with persons with disabilities has been demonstrated in previous studies. However, the exact manner in which the EO enters into a functional relationship with the discriminated operant has not been clarified. We explored the interaction of EOs and schedules of reinforcement on aggression and self-injury in two adolescents with Autism by developing a three-Phase methodology. In Phase 1, a functional analysis (FA) identified that problem behaviors of one participant were maintained by access to tangibles while the second participant’s were maintained by attention. Following the FA in Phase 2, we repeatedly presented (satiation) or withheld (deprivation) tangibles or attention and manipulated the EO. For both participants, problem behaviors occurred following deprivation and rarely occurred following satiation. In Phase 3, having demonstrated the effects of the EO, we then compared rates of problem behavior after periods of deprivation and satiation under extinction. Problem behaviors occurred most frequently following the deprivation condition, when extinction was in effect. Results indicated that the EO can influence the evocative effectiveness of the discriminative stimulus.
The Effects of Directive and Nondirective Prompts on Noncompliant Vocal Behavior Exhibited by a Child with Autism
ROBERT T. PEYTON (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Steve Lindauer (Kennedy Krieger Institute), David M. Richman (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Abstract: We assessed and treated noncompliant vocal behavior exhibited by a young girl diagnosed with autism and developmental delays. A functional analysis resulted in differentially higher rates of noncompliant vocal behavior during the escape condition, suggesting that it was maintained negative reinforcement in the form of escape from demands. Follow-up analyses indicated that escape in the form of removal of task materials did not appear to reinforce noncompliant vocal behavior. Instead,noncompliant vocal behavior occurred almost exclusively in response to specific caregiver prompts during demand situations. Modification of caregiver prompts (i.e., nondirective prompts) during demand situations reduced noncompliant vocal behavior to near zero levels.
Comparison of Treatments to Reduce Hand Mouthing: Advantages of Functionally Derived Interventions over Arbitrary Interventions
HELEN CANNELLA (University of Texas, Austin), Mark O'Reilly (University of Texas, Austin)
Abstract: Research has shown that engaging in hand mouthing can be detrimental to an individual’s health, adaptive behavior, and social functioning, and interferes with participation in daily educational activities. Additionally, intervention research assessing the treatment of hand mouthing indicates that interventions are often arbitrarily assigned once a single functional analysis has been done to determine that the behavior is automatically maintained. As such, the purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to increase the amount of time children with severe to profound developmental disabilities spent engaging in educational activities by reducing the rate of hand mouthing, and (b) to compare arbitrarily assigned interventions to those based on detailed functional assessment packages. The arbitrary intervention was chosen by its frequency of use in the research from 1977 to 2004. The functionally based intervention was developed using assessment results including preference assessment data and various functional analysis data sets. The independent measures were the educational activities, and the dependent measure was frequency of hand mouthing. Data were analyzed using an alternating treatments design. Results indicate that using functionally based interventions was more effective and efficient in reducing rates of hand mouthing and increasing time spent on educational activities.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh