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 #363
CE Offered: BACB
Extensions of Functional Communication Training to Treat Challenging Behavior Exhibited by Individuals with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 26, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W183c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin and the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk)
CE Instructor: Terry S. Falcomata, Ph.D.

Although Functional Communication Training (FCT) is one of the most commonly utilized behavioral treatments of challenging behavior, research continues to be conducted for the purpose of extending literature pertaining to FCT. This research has sought to evaluate variables that influence the treatments effectiveness, apply the treatment in novel ways, and evaluate innovative procedures for improving its utility. In this symposium, three papers will be presented describing innovative research in the area of FCT for the treatment of challenging behavior exhibited by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. First, Nicole DeRosa and colleagues present data on the relative effects of differing levels of exposure to establishing operations on the effectiveness of FCT. In the second paper, Christina Fragale and Mark OReilly present data on the use of antecedent-based FCT procedure to alter motivating operations and treat challenging behavior displayed by individuals with autism. In the third study, Colin Muething and colleagues present data on the relative effects of various increasing lag schedules of reinforcement on variant mand responding and challenging behavior when embedded in FCT.

Keyword(s): Autism, Challenging Behavior, Developmental Disabilities, FCT

The Effect of Varying Duration of Exposure to Establishing Operation On Functional Communication Training Outcomes

NICOLE DEROSA (The Kelberman Center and State University of New York Upstate Medical University), Henry S. Roane (State University of New York Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (Syracuse University), Janet Diaz (The Kelberman Center and State University of New York Upstate Medical University)

Several studies have identified variables that influence functional communication training (FCT) outcomes. Findings from DeRosa, Fisher, and Steege (in press) suggested that the duration of exposure to the relevant establishing operation (EO) during the initial stages of FCT may be another variable that influences the effectiveness of the intervention. The current study extends previous findings by systematically altering the duration of exposure to the EO based on pre-determined variable interval (VI) schedules of reinforcement across two FCT interventions that include the same response modality. One condition (EO limited) was associated with a dense VI schedule of reinforcement, thus producing relatively brief durations of exposure to the relevant EO. The second condition (EO prolonged) was associated with a lean VI reinforcement schedule, thereby producing longer exposure to the relevant EO. Results of the effects of duration of exposure to the relevant EO on reduction of problem behavior and acquisition of an alternative response varied across participants. Clinical and conceptual implications are discussed.


Examination of an Antecedent Communication Intervention within the Classroom Routine to Reduce Tangibly Maintained Challenging Behavior of Students with Autism.

CHRISTINA FRAGALE (The University of Texas, The Meadows Center for the Prevention of Educational Risk), Mark O'Reilly (The University of Texas at Austin)

We examined the use of antecedent communication training as a motivating operation and embedded as part of a school routine, on challenging behavior for two school-aged students with developmental disabilities. The students were taught to request items that were identified as reinforcers for problem behaviors through functional analyses. We hypothesized this condition would serve as an abolishing operation (AO) for challenging behavior. For both students, a multielement design was used to compare the effects of antecedent communication intervention to no communication intervention conditions. Immediately following either condition, the students returned to routine school activities with the reinforcer from the requesting trials present. Results indicate that the students engaged in less challenging behaviors during the school routine activity with the prior condition with the antecedent communication intervention. Teachers may consider how scheduling specific activities in a functional order may help manage challenging behaviors maintained by preferred items in the classroom. Further discussion and implications will also be discussed.


Further Evaluation of Lag Schedules of Reinforcement and Functional Communication Training to Increase Variant Mand Responding

COLIN S. MUETHING (The University of Texas at Austin), Terry S. Falcomata (The University of Texas at Austin and the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk), Summer Gainey (The University of Texas at Austin), Cayenne Shpall (The University of Texas at Austin), Katherine Hoffman (The University of Texas), Jennifer Hamrick (The University of Texas at Austin), Bryant C. Silbaugh (The University of Texas at Austin)

Lag schedules of reinforcement have been demonstrated to be effective for increasing response variability in both the basic (e.g. Page & Neuringer, 1985) and applied literature pertaining to individuals with autism (e.g., Lee & Sturmey, 2006). Few studies have evaluated the applied utility of lag schedules on increasing variant responding (e.g., Lee & Sturmey, 2006; Lee et al., 2002); and none have evaluated their effects during functional communication training (FCT) to increase variant mand responding. Previous work of ours has suggested the utility of lag schedules during FCT at relatively dense schedule requirements. In the current study, we evaluated the effects of several distinct and increasing lag schedules of reinforcement and FCT on mand variability in individuals with autism. Functional analyses were first conducted to determine the variables maintaining challenging behavior. Next, we systematically evaluated responding at several increasing lag schedule requirements. Results showed increases in variant mand responding concurrent with increasing requirements of lag schedules of reinforcement. The results also showed that relatively lean lag schedules of reinforcement were achieved while challenging behavior continued at low levels relative to baseline. These results will be discussed in terms of the prevention of clinical relapse during challenges to treatment.




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