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.

30th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2004

Workshop Details


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Workshop #W25
CE Offered: None
Improving Quality of Life for People with Profound Multiple Impairments
Friday, May 28, 2004
2:00 PM–5:00 PM
Beacon E
Area: PRA; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Richard R. Saunders, Ed.D.
RICHARD R. SAUNDERS (University of Kansas), MURIEL D. SAUNDERS (University of Kansas)
Description: Individuals with profound multiple disabilities (PMI) generally have almost no voluntary motor movement and are nonverbal and unable to make requests or signal needs. Hearing, vision, and cognitive impairments are likely, but difficult to verify with standard assessments. Seizure disorders, digestive disorders, and other chronic health problems are common. Most exhibit no skills that represent purposeful responding or learning. Thus, determining the desires and preferences of individuals with PMI, and thus improving their quality of life (QOL) is a challenge. Perhaps for behavior analysts, QOL is a measure of control over reinforcers. For people with PMI, one method of enabling control over reinforcers is through adaptive switch technology. Unfortunately, advances in adaptive switch technology have not been accompanied by advances in measurement technology and thus, most applications have not been evidence-based. Without data on switch use, and thus without evidence that use is volitional and learned, switch equipment often falls into disuse. This data-based workshop will demonstrate how the development of field-based measurement devices merged with an EAB approach can improve the QOL of people with PMI. All facets of establishing and maintaining a switch-based program to improve QOL will be covered, with emphasis on the essential ingredientbehavior analysis.
Learning Objectives: At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to: List and explain at least five ways that an adaptive switch program can improve the QOL of people with PMI. List and justify at least six essential prerequisites for maintaining a successful switch program. Explain at least four ways in which response rate may mislead rather than inform analyses of learning in switch-use programs and how protocol design and measurement of switch-closure duration can solve for those problems. Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of two alternating-treatments designs for detecting evidence of learning (in other disciplines, it is evidence of intentionality, contingency learning, or contingency awareness). Discuss the relationship between characteristics of switch construction, reinforcement contingencies, and interpretation of switch-use data. Rank order the switch operation modes with respect to the complexity of the contingent relationship between reinforcer and response they produce. Describe the function of bin analyses and cumulative records in the analyses of switch-use data. Parse and bin data from text files of real-time data records. Explain how to construct a reinforcer preference test for individuals unable to use more than one switch in one position. Explain how to test for preferences within reinforcer domains, such as music volume. Describe four autonomic and behavioral correlates of switch use that may indicate changes in QOL with switch use.
Activities: In addition to receiving didactic instruction, the audience will participate in data analysis exercises with actual subject data presented by the instructors. The audience will have an opportunity to examine a variety of switches, measurement devices for use in the natural applied settings, and devices that produce stimulation as a function of switch closure. Some participants will volunteer to produce switch use data so that the entire audience can see its transformation and reduction by computer and by hand (pencil and paper).
Audience: Behavior analysts working with children or adults with profound multiple impairments should attend this workshop, particularly those with an interest in leisure activities, communication, and improving QOL. People with PMI includes individuals with developmental disabilities or those with profound limitations in motor and communication skills due to brain injury, stroke, and other neurological insults. Others who may be interested are those that conduct or supervise preference assessments in applied or research settings. In many respects, the discussion of the analyses of switch data may serve as a review of basic EAB methods, as switch data are much like other simple key-press data from animal research. Thus, a speech pathologist or occupational therapist would likely find the portions on switches and switch programs introductory to intermediate, but would likely find the data analysis portions to be advanced. Conversely, behavior analysts will find the data analysis introductory to intermediate, but find the portions on the switch equipment and related issues to be intermediate to advanced.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Intermediate

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