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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Paper Session #320
Assessment and Differential Diagnosis in Autism
Monday, May 30, 2005
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Continental C (1st floor)
Area: AUT
Chair: Michelle Rone-DePolo (Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism)
Diagnostic and Medication Issues in the Differential Diagnosis of Autistic Disorders and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Domain: Service Delivery
MICHELLE RONE-DEPOLO (Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism), Aleksandra Rachitskaya (Case Western Reserve University Medical School)
Abstract: A retrospective chart review was conducted on 201 children referred to The Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism for assessment of possible autistic spectrum disorders between January 2002 and June 2004. The frequency of misdiagnosing children who met symptom criteria for autistic spectrum disorder with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was reviewed, and when applicable, the patient’s response to commonly prescribed ADHD medications. Of 201 patients, 26 (12.94%) had a prior diagnosis of ADHD. In 19 children (73.08%) ADHD was not confirmed, with symptoms better accounted for by an autistic spectrum disorder. Six children (23.08%) received a dual diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder and ADHD. In one child, a diagnosis of ADHD alone was confirmed. Out of 26 patients with prior diagnosis of ADHD, 24 were prescribed one or more ADHD medications (e.g. methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, etc.), totaling 33 medications prescribed. Medication efficacy (per parent report) was not demonstrated in 57.57% of the prescribed drugs. Findings indicate that there may be a trend in misdiagnosing patients presenting with symptoms of “high-functioning” autism or asperger’s disorder as having ADHD. When such misdiagnoses occur, a patient's awareness of and access to appropriate treatment may be delayed, and prescription practices may not be efficacious.
Evaluating a Multiple Stimulus Without Replacement Preference Assessment in Identifying Effective Reinforcers on a Free Operant Posting Task
Domain: Applied Research
Abstract: The ability to assess, efficiently and practicably, effective reinforcing stimuli for an individual child is a primary concern for educators and has a direct impact upon acquisition and maintenance of skills and adaptive behaviours. The dual purpose of this study was first, to discover whether top-ranked stimuli from an extended multiple-stimulus without replacement procedure (MSWO) were also identified if the number of sessions and trials were decreased thus providing educators with an efficient and practicable assessment method. Second, to conduct reinforcer assessments involving a simple free operant posting task to identify which of three conditions maximally increased rate of responding per minute on a 5-minute posting session: (i) the use of the of the top-ranked stimulus only as the consequent stimuli, (ii) the use of a selection of the top three ranked items delivered randomly, or (iii) random delivery of three novel items (not previously identified by staff when constructing the original preference lists for each child).
The Use of Assessment and Systematic Desensitization to Reduce the Fear Responses of Children with Autism
Domain: Applied Research
NADIA E. RAED (Florida State University), Mae R. Barker (Florida State University)
Abstract: A multiple-baseline across anxiety-provoking stimuli was used to evaluate a systematic desensitization procedure for decreasing the fear behaviors of two children with autism in response to flying insects. Treatment consisted of gradually exposing the participants to the fear provoking stimuli and allowing the participant access to a highly reinforcing activity. Dependent measures were occurrence of fear response and approach behaviors. Fear behaviors of both children decreased following treatment in both clinical and generalization settings.



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