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 #258
Modifications of Functional Analysis Methodology to Address Idiosyncratic Forms of Socially Mediated Reinforcement
Sunday, May 25, 2014
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
W183c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Amanda Verriden (The New England Center for Children)

Functional analysis is a well established technology that can lead to the development of effective reinforcement-based interventions for decreasing problem behavior. The current symposium includes three papers addressing the topic of modifications made to standard functional analysis methodology to assess problem behavior related to idiosyncratic forms of socially mediated reinforcement. For the first paper, the presenter will discuss the clinical utility of a divided attention condition in the functional analysis of problem behavior and review the data for 26 cases. For the second paper, the presenter will describe the indirect assessment, descriptive assessment, and functional analysis of problem behavior suspected to be sensitive to peer attention as a reinforcer. For the third paper, the presenter will describe the functional analysis of elopement without therapist retrieval, using a response latency and response allocation measure.

Keyword(s): divided attention, elopement, functional analysis, peer attention
Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior Maintained by Divided Attention
JILL FODSTAD (Indiana University School of Medicine), Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Shari M. Pincus (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Patricia F. Kurtz (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Functional analysis is an effective means to determine the function of severe problem behavior (Beavers, Iwata, Lerman, 2013; Hanley, Iwata, McCord, 2003). Fahmie, Iwata, Harper, and Querim (2013) demonstrated that the divided attention condition was more efficient than the standard attention condition. The current investigation reviewed the clinical use of the divided attention condition across 26 cases (individuals ranging in age from 2 to 33-years-old) where this condition was evaluated in a hospital-based inpatient or outpatient program. Both FA outcomes and subsequent intervention data were included in the clinical case review. Results indicated that if problem behavior occurred in the attention condition, that behavior would also occur in the divided attention condition, but not necessarily vice-versa. This suggests that in some cases, intervention may only be required in specific contexts, but not in other contexts (e.g., when being ignored) - with 87.5% of cases where treatments were implemented for a divided attention function yielded a greater than 80% reduction of baseline rates of problem behavior. Results are discussed in light of the importance of clarifying ambiguous FA outcomes (e.g., Schlichenmeyer et al., 2013), and identifying procedures to make clear FA outcomes more likely (e.g., Conners et al., 2000).

The Role of Peer Attention on Problem Behavior for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

STEFANIE UPSHAW (The New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (The New England Center for Children), Kylie Roberts (The New England Center for Children)

Research has indicated that the problem behavior of some children can be sensitive to peer-delivered attention. However, the prevalence of peer attention as a maintaining variable for problem behavior in individuals diagnosed with autism has not been investigated. In this study, we conducted interviews with caregivers, descriptive assessments, and functional analyses to identify the reported and actual prevalence of peer attention following problem behavior and as a reinforcer for problem behavior. Caregivers reported that peers commonly delivered attention contingent on problem behavior. Descriptive assessments showed positive contingencies between problem behavior and peer attention for some students. Functional analyses showed that peer attention was a reinforcer for problem behavior.

Response Latency and Response Allocation as Measures of Elopement
MICHELE R. TRAUB (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Elopement is a prevalent behavior within I/DD populations that endangers those who engage in it. Despite this, little research on function-based interventions has been done, due to the difficult nature of assessing it systematically. Several studies have attempted to perform functional analyses of elopement, but the need to retrieve the individual following each occurrence of behavior may have provided reinforcement in the form of attention. Conversely, a failure to retrieve may place the individual in danger. In this study, by using two adjacent rooms from which subjects could elope freely and safely without retrieval, we compared two alternative response measures, latency to elopement and the percent of session allocated to each of two locations, in a pairwise fashion to determine the function of elopement in two individuals. Results of both analyses matched on the functions indicated for each subject, and the functions were idiosyncratic across subjects. This study provides preliminary evidence that both latency and allocation are valid in assessing the function of elopement, and that such an assessment could be conducted without the need for retrieval and without putting the individual at risk.



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