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 #326
Extensions of Applied Behavior Analysis in the Treatment of Problem Behavior
Monday, May 30, 2005
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Stevens 4 (Lower Level)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michael E. Kelley (Marcus Autism Center and Emory University)
Discussant: Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Functional analyses methodology has significantly advanced the field of applied behavior analysis by providing an effective method of assessment that reliably identifies sources of reinforcement for problem behavior. Research in the area has included numerous replications across settings, response topographies, and condition types. Settings have included homes, schools, inpatient hospital units, and vocational programs. Response topographies have ranged from self-injury and aggression to bizarre vocalizations and elopement. Condition types included the common test conditions traditionally evaluated during a functional analysis, as well as modifications of these and other conditions. In the current symposium, a series of studies designed to further refine assessment and treatment procedures in applied behavior analysis will be presented. In the first investigation, the generalization of treatments prescribed following a functional analysis was evaluated. In the second investigation, an analogue model of a response class was developed in order to better understand the relations that exist between different response topographies (i.e., response-class hierarchies). In the third investigation, an evaluation of problem behavior maintained by idiosyncratic variables will be discussed. Finally, Timothy Vollmer will serve as the discussant to integrate the findings of these three presentations.
Generalization of Treatment Effects Across Settings and Time
KELLY J. BOUXSEIN (Marcus Autism Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Marcus Autism Center), Michael E. Kelley (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Functional analyses (FA) have been shown to be effective for identifying the environmental variables that maintain problem behavior and prescribing effective function-based treatments (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003; Iwata et al., 1994). Demonstrations of treatment effects subsequent to functional analyses are generally presented over the course of several brief (e.g., 10-min) treatment sessions. However, data on the generalization of these treatment effects to other settings, people, behaviors, and across time. Derby et al. (1997) evaluated the long-term effectiveness of function-based treatment in home settings and found continued successful treatment under these generalized conditions. Durand and Carr (1992) assessed the long-term maintenance of functional communication training. Results suggested that researchers may identify conditions under which treatment effects are likely to maintain across time and settings. In the current study, we exposed participants’ problem behavior to functional analysis procedures (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982/94). Next, we developed function-based treatments during 10-min sessions under analogue conditions. Finally, we evaluated the extent to which treatment effects generalized across settings and time.
Development of an Analogue of a Response-Class Hierarchy
DANIEL B. SHABANI (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Within the operant conditioning literature, there exists the concept of the functional response class. A functional response class is defined as a collection of responses, all of which produce the same outcome. If the members of a response class occur in a predictable order, a response-class hierarchy is said to exist. A hierarchy refers to a specific type of response class in which each member of the response class may be hierarchically related and ordered along various dimensions (e.g., response effort, immediacy of reinforcement, magnitude of reinforcer). Although the response-class hierarchy has received moderate conceptual attention over the years, there has been very little use of the concept in the applied literature. The purpose of the current investigation was to develop a model of a response-class hierarchy in order to stimulate a line of research that will begin to examine, using the model, different variables that determine the order in which behaviors occur and various ways of modifying or treating the response-class hierarchy. Results indicated that the model was successful in developing a response-class hierarchy. The implications for treating individuals who present with problem behaviors that are hierarchically sequenced will be discussed.
The Abolishing Effects of Sound Isolation Headphones on Destructive Behavior Reinforced by Escape From Noise
TRACY L. KETTERING (Marcus Autism Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Marcus Autism Center), Michael E. Kelley (Marcus Autism Center), Kelly J. Bouxsein (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Results of previous studies suggest that the problem behavior of some individuals may be maintained by idiosyncratic variables that are not targeted during analogue functional analyses (e.g., (e.g., Fisher et al., 1998; Van Camp et al., 2000). For example, McCord, Iwata, Galensky, Ellingson, and Thompson (2001) showed that 2 participants’ problem behavior was maintained by escape from noise. In the current study, anecdotal observation and parental report suggested that the problem behavior of 2 individuals was sensitive to negative reinforcement in the form of escape from noise. Results of a functional analysis confirmed the relationship between problem behavior and noise removal. For one participant, destructive behavior occurred at higher levels in a condition in which specific social noises (i.e., adults arguing) were present. For the second participant, aggression occurred in all conditions in which a 101-DB noise was present. Results indicated that noncontingent access to sound-isolation headphones acted as an abolishing operation and reduced destructive behavior even though the contingency between the behavior and escape from noise remained in place.



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