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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #84
CE Offered: BACB
Contemporary Applications for Assessing and Treating Complex Problem Behavior
Saturday, May 24, 2014
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
W187ab (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: David McAdam (University of Rochester)
CE Instructor: Jonathan Dean Schmidt, Ph.D.

This symposium encompasses three studies that emphasize the evolution of applied behavior analysis. Each study is focused on investigating problem behavior that occurs under idiosyncratic circumstances, which due to the complexity of the stimulus conditions under which the behavior is evoked, often produces inconclusive assessment and treatment results. The first presentation will describe an indirect measure for identifying specific stimuli that are likely to evoke problem behavior called the Nonpreferred Events Interview Form (NEIF). Correspondence between the NEIF and other more direct assessments indicated that it is an acceptable tool to identify potential negative reinforcers of problem behavior that can be evaluated during treatment. The second presentation focuses on assessment and treatment procedures for pica, with a particular emphasis on teaching alternative behaviors that reduce the opportunity for the behavior to occur. The final presentation is a retrospective study that summarizes data from 28 participants over a 15-year period related to various assessment and treatment procedures for individuals who engage in problem behavior to increase the likelihood that others with comply with mands. For each study, extensive data have been collected and interobserver agreement is appropriate.

Keyword(s): functional analysis, mands, negative reinforcement, pica
Correspondence between a Tool to Identify Non-preferred Events and Functional Assessment Outcomes
BAILEY SCHERBAK (University of Maryland Baltimore County), Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jonathan Dean Schmidt (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: There is often poor correspondence between indirect assessments or interviews about preferences and direct measures of preference, yet due to ease of implementation and time constraints, interviews are often used (Everson, & Green, 1999; Windsor, Piche, & Locke 1994). The current study evaluated the extent to which the Non-preferred Events Interview Form (NEIF) agreed with outcomes of a functional analysis (FA) and other assessments relevant to negative reinforcement. Thirty five participants, consisting of parents and caregivers, complete the NEIF. Correspondence between the items identified through the NEIF and the functional assessment process were compared (e.g., demands identified by the parent on the NEIF as a non-preferred resulted in a high rate of problem behavior during the demand/escape condition of the functional analysis). Interrater observer agreement (IOA) was calculated for each assessment, and resulted in an average of 86.6% across all evaluations was observed (range 63.4-100%). We found that there was a 38% level of correspondence between the NEIF and at least one type of functional assessment measure. These results suggest that the NEIF may be helpful in identifying non-preferred events and that these results were useful to inform the functional assessment process.

Reducing Opportunities for Pica by Increasing Functional Behaviors

ABBY LONG (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jonathan Dean Schmidt (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Christopher Tung (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Kennedy Krieger Institute  ), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute)

Pica, the ingestion of non-nutritive substances, is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening behavior that is often displayed by individuals with developmental disabilities. Although it is well established in the literature that pica is most likely to be maintained by automatic reinforcement, there is a void related to interventions regarding teaching alternative behaviors that reduce the opportunity for pica to occur. For the current study, pica displayed by three participants with developmental disabilities was targeted for assessment and treatment. Results of functional analyses indicated that for all participants, pica was maintained by automatic reinforcement. Treatment focused on establishing a controlling prompt to clean up the area, response interruption and redirection, and differentially reinforcing multiple alternative behaviors for each participant, such as picking up and discarding or vacuuming up pica items. With treatment implemented, significant reductions were obtained for all participants. Effects were also maintained over time after thinning the schedule of reinforcement. After finalizing the comprehensive treatments in a contrived setting, extensive generalization occurred across settings and people.

Evaluative Summary of Assessment and Treatment Procedures for Problem Behavior Maintained by Compliance with Mands
JONATHAN DEAN SCHMIDT (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Samantha Hardesty (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Theodosia R. Paclawskyj (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Lynn G. Bowman (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Chloe J. McKay (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Abstract: With a standard functional analysis it is commonly assumed that problem behaviors occur for attention, escape, tangible access, or automatic reinforcement. However, there is strong evidence that some individuals’ problem behaviors may be maintained by other’s compliance with mands instead of a specific reinforcer; they mand for specific and unique behavior from others (Bowman et al., 1997). The current study summarizes assessment and treatment data over a 15-year timespan for twenty-eight participants with severe problem behavior maintained by compliance with mands. For all participants, modifications to the standard FA procedures were necessary for identifying the function of problem behavior. Regarding intervention, during the initial 5 years of the retrospective measurement period, treatment primarily included functional communication and extinction. Over time, treatments evolved to emphasize additional discriminative stimuli, signaled use of multiple schedules of reinforcement, and alternative uses of differential reinforcement strategies. For a small percentage of participants, punishment procedures were required to obtain clinically significant results. Data for the efficacy, effectiveness, and social validity of treatment procedures in the natural environment will be discussed.



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