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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #185
CANCELLED: Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism – Expanding Opportunities through Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 24, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 124 B
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Michele D. Mayer (HMEA)
Abstract: While a rich literature base describing program models exists for young children with autism, there is no evidence that these models designed for early intervention result in positive outcomes for adolescents and young adults with autism. A quick review of the Expanded Academic Index yielded 45 articles that incorporated adolescents and autism in the keywords. Of these, very few studies actually targeted skills for acquisition. The paucity of research with this population is startling when one considers that these students are still entitled to educational and transitional services. This symposium will present four data-based studies involving adolescents and young adults with autism where behavior analysis was instrumental in improving behavioral control and skill acquisition leading to expanded community activities. In the first study, component and parametric analyses were used to decrease vocally disruptive behavior. The second study focuses on increases in community activities as a result of a reduction in spitting behavior. The third study describes how a good behavior badge led to reductions in dangerous behavior and concomitant increases in opportunities to sample work. The final study examines increases in opportunities to respond as a result of decreases in physical aggression.
Evaluating the components of an intervention package designed to reduce vocally disruptive behavior
Robert L. Shapiro (HMEA/Simmons College), MICHELE D. MAYER (HMEA), Stefanie A Salome (HMEA), Kara Muirhead (HMEA), Janice R. Bolton (HMEA), Jason Coderre (HMEA)
Abstract: Vocally disruptive behavior, such as screaming and abusive language, has been addressed in geriatric populations through introduction of artificial sound such as white noise. However, its use has not been documented with other populations, and its relative effectiveness based on intensity and combination with other components of a treatment package has not been reported. This study investigated the effectiveness of a white noise intervention package on vocally disruptive behavior in a teenaged boy with autism. Using a multiple treatment reversal design, it was determined that the white noise intervention was necessary and sufficient for decreasing this behavior. Further, by conducting a parametric analysis it was possible to reduce the decibel level of the white noise to socially acceptable levels without sacrificing treatment effectiveness. Ultimately, gains made in behavioral control led to an increase in the intensity and diversity of academic programming, and served as the key element in the ability of this young man to explore a transition to a more inclusive academic setting.
An antecedent-based intervention to reduce spitting and increase community opportunities
JASON CODERRE (HMEA), Robert L. Shapiro (HMEA/Simmons College), Michele D. Mayer (HMEA), Janice R. Bolton (HMEA), Stefanie A Salome (HMEA)
Abstract: Spitting, while not inherently dangerous, nonetheless serves as a substantially limiting factor for accessing the community, especially in relation to social and vocational activities. Employers may be hesitant to hire a worker who is spitting; likewise, peers may be reluctant to include in social events a person who is frequently spitting. This study investigated spitting behavior that appeared to be maintained by automatic reinforcement in an adolescent with autism. Previous attempts to reduce this behavior were not effective and the student needed to wear a towel around his neck to absorb the saliva. Through the use of behavior chain analysis, it became apparent that spitting was preceded by a distinctive facial expression. By implementing a redirection procedure when this expression was observed, it was possible to reduce the spitting to below baseline levels. As the student’s behavior improved, the redirection procedure was modified to make it less conspicuous. The resulting reduction in spitting afforded increased opportunities for community-based activities, and the behavior reduction was maintained in these novel settings.
Using a Good Behavior Badge to Reduce Dangerous Behavior and Increase Community-Based Vocational Opportunities
Robert L. Shapiro (HMEA/Simmons College), JANICE R. BOLTON (HMEA), Stefanie A Salome (HMEA), Jason Coderre (HMEA), Michele D. Mayer (HMEA)
Abstract: The good behavior badge is an intervention that combines elements of a response cost procedure with differential reinforcement. By pairing the good behavior badge with identified reinforcing items or activities, the badge itself acquires reinforcing properties, and in turn, its removal contingent upon the emission of maladaptive behavior, serves to reduce the future probability of this behavior. In this study, the good behavior badge was used to reduce a range of dangerous behavior, including physical aggression, bolting, and falling forcefully to the floor, in a young adult with autism. When the targeted behaviors were occurring, the student’s ability to access his community was severely limited. With the introduction of the good behavior badge, decreases in targeted behavior occurred to the extent that exploration of a diversity of vocational options was possible. Data are presented on the change in a variety of behaviors targeted for decrease, as well as, on the acquisition of a range of vocational skills.
Increasing opportunities to respond through improved predictability of staff response to physical aggression
STEFANIE A SALOME (HMEA), Robert L. Shapiro (HMEA/Simmons College), Michele D. Mayer (HMEA), Janice R. Bolton (HMEA), Jason Coderre (HMEA)
Abstract: Changes in routine are a typical part of everyday life. For many students with autism, however, even the simplest changes can result in increases in maladaptive behavior. During occurrences of maladaptive behavior, diminished opportunities to respond occurs as educational programming ceases while the student attempts to regain self-control. In this study, physical aggression warranting restraint occurred as a result of the introduction of new educational programming. Because first instances of physical aggression were not always of sufficient intensity to meet criteria for emergency physical restraint, there was little predictability of staff response to the physical aggression. By restructuring the intervention for physical aggression such that any instance, regardless of intensity, resulted in a physical hold, physical aggression was reduced to below-baseline levels, as was the frequency of physical restraint itself. As a result, opportunities to respond to educational instruction increased, leading to improved learning outcomes. Data are presented on the change in behavioral presentation, as well as, on the variety of academic programs that were available before and after this intervention.



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