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 #211
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Research on Functional Analysis and Function-Based Interventions
Sunday, May 29, 2005
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
Williford A (3rd floor)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Julie Atwell (Florida Institute of Technology)
Discussant: Michele D. Wallace (University of Nevada, Reno)
CE Instructor: David A. Wilder, Ph.D.

Three recent studies on functional analysis and function-based interventions will be presented. In the first study, a brief functional analysis was conducted to identify a treatment for tantrums associated with transitions in typically developing preschool children. The second study describes a functional analysis and treatment for food refusal maintained by multiple sources of reinforcement. The third study describes a functional analysis of feeding problems and evaluates a novel negative reinforcement-based intervention.

Brief Functional Analysis and Treatment of Tantrums Associated with Transitions in Preschool Children
DAVID A. WILDER (Florida Institute of Technology), Liyu Chen (Florida Institute of Technology), Julie Atwell (Florida Institute of Technology), Joshua K. Pritchard (Florida Institute of Technology), Phil A. Weinstein (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: We examined tantrums associated with transitions from one activity to another exhibited by two preschool children. First, preference assessments and informal interviews were used to identify activities and tasks to which participants were exposed during an analysis of tantrums associated with transitions. Next, a brief functional analysis examined the influence of termination of prechange activities and initiation of postchange activities on tantrums. Results showed that for one participant, tantrums were maintained by access to certain (pre-transition) activities. For a second participant, tantrums were maintained by avoidance of certain task initiations. Finally, results of a treatment consisting of advanced notice of an upcoming transition showed that the procedure was ineffective; a treatment consisting of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) plus extinction was effective for both participants
A Systematic Evaluation and Treatment of Multiply Controlled Inappropriate Mealtime Behaviors
MELANIE H. BACHMEYER (Marcus Autism Center), Cathleen C. Piazza (Marcus Autism Center), Gregory K. Reed (Marcus Autism Center), Stephanie Bethke (Marcus Autism Center), Sam Maddox (Marcus Autism Center), Amanda Bosch (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Prior research has demonstrated that analogue functional analyses may be useful in identifying the environmental events that play a role in feeding disorders. The results of this research has suggested that even though negative reinforcement (in the form of escape from bites of food) may play a primary role in the maintenance of feeding problems, a significant number of children with feeding disorders also may be sensitive to other sources of reinforcement (e.g., access to adult attention). However, no studies to our knowledge have systematically evaluated function-based treatments for multiply controlled feeding problems. Thus, in the present study, we conducted functional analyses of inappropriate mealtime behaviors to identify children whose inappropriate mealtime behaviors were maintained by both negative and positive reinforcement (in the form of access to adult attention). Then, treatments matched directly to each maintaining variable were evaluated. Specifically, various extinction, differential reinforcement, and punishment procedures were evaluated. Two independent observers achieved over 80% agreement on over 25% of sessions. Results will be discussed in terms of the relative contribution of secondary functions in the development and efficacy of treatments for multiply controlled food refusal. Areas for further study will also be discussed.
Function-Based Treatment of Feeding Problems in the Absence of Escape Extinction
ANGELA PRUETT (Marcus Autism Center), Cathleen C. Piazza (Marcus Autism Center), Gregory K. Reed (Marcus Autism Center), Melanie H. Bachmeyer (Marcus Autism Center), Stephanie Bethke (Marcus Autism Center), Barbara S. Wimberly (Marcus Autism Center), Percy Milligan (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Prior research on the assessment and treatment of feeding problems has produced two major findings: (a) negative reinforcement in the form of escape from the feeding situation is often primarily responsible for maintaining refusal behavior, and (b) negative reinforcement-based interventions such as escape extinction (EE) are highly effective for treating feeding problems. Largely, research examining the effects of positive reinforcement-based interventions for feeding problems has suggested that feeding problems can be highly resistant to positive reinforcement in the absence of EE. However, few studies have evaluated the efficacy of negative reinforcement-based alternatives to EE, and research on the specific conditions under which positive reinforcement can be effective remains in need. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of positive and negative reinforcement-based interventions for treating food selectivity without EE. Specifically, we conducted functional analyses of each child’s feeding problem, and then systematically evaluated the efficacy of positive (access to high preferred stimuli) and negative (avoidance of low preferred foods) reinforcement contingencies for increasing food consumption. Independent observers achieved over 80% agreement on 25% of sessions. Results will be discussed in terms of the utility of function-based treatments for feeding problems, particularly with regard to negative reinforcement-based alternatives to EE



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