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 #187
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Measurement Issues in the Behavioral Treatment of Autism
Sunday, May 24, 2009
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
North 125
Area: AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Discussant: Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
CE Instructor: Robert Putnam, Ph.D.
Abstract: Applied Behavior Analysis relies on data, but the confidence one has in data depends on how that data is obtained. This symposium presents data-based information about the application of measures often used in ABA research and intervention in the area of autism. The first presentation examines the correspondence and components of several of the most commonly used measures of language in children with autism. How these measures compare to each other and the implications for reporting and interpreting scores from these measures is presented. The second presentation offers findings from a relatively large sample group comparison study concerning the utility of a low-cost, widely used behavior report measure (CBCL) as a predictor of outcome in children receiving an ABA intervention. The third presentation provides data from a large sample of children with autism who were administered the Weschler Intelligence Scale prior to beginning ABA treatment and after one year of treatment. Normative data by age group are presented and a case is made for using population specific norms when reporting and interpreting intelligence change scores for children with autism. Together, these presentations give significant new information relevant to research and treatment in the area of ABA for children with autism.
Content Analysis of Tests Commonly Used to Assess Language in Children Diagnosed with Autistic Disorder
Catriona Cullum (Texas Young Autism Project), TREA DRAKE (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Results from 107 children with autism, each assessed with four commonly used language and communication tests, indicate that, although results across assessments were highly correlated, age equivalent scores on the various tests differed by as much as two years for some children. These results suggest that although the tests are all language and/or communication assessment instruments, they may not be measuring the same underlying construct. Variables thought to affect the scores of children diagnosed with AD taking these four major language and communication instruments were then examined with respect to test format and content. Specifically, a content analysis was conducted to examine the receptive and expressive language content areas, as well as other areas of language structure (language precursors, semantics, structure, integrative/complex language). It was found that two of the assessments sampled a wide variety of language content areas while the other two focused on a much narrower sample of language components. Implications for clinical service to children with autism are discussed, including not using these tests interchangeably and interpreting results based on the specific components of language actually measured.
ABA Outcome Utility of the CBCL for Children with Autism
GERI MARIA HARRIS (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is one of the most widely used measures of child behavior and is relatively quick and inexpensive to administer. Previously presented research on a sample of children with autism has shown the CBCL to have very good inter-parental reliability, a strong correlation of specific CBCL scales with the diagnostic criteria for autism, and potential usefulness as a treatment outcome measure. The present study examined the predictive utility of diagnostically relevant subscales (Pervasive Developmental Problems and Withdrawn) of the CBCL. Participants were 209 young children with autism who received ABA intervention for one year and their mothers. Data included CBCL scores and I.Q., obtained before the onset of treatment and after one year of ABA treatment. A Cross-Lagged Panel Correlation analysis of the data was then conducted. Results show that pretreatment CBCL subscale scores are significantly predictive of post-treatment I.Q. scores. Implications for research and clinical use are discussed.
Revised Normalizations for the WPPSI-III For Use with Children with Autism: Reliability across Samples
WENDY J. NEELY (Texas Young Autism Project), Gerald E. Harris (Texas Young Autism Project)
Abstract: Accurately assessing cognitive abilities of children with autism is integral to designing and evaluating behavioral interventions. The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (3rd Ed.) is generally considered to be the “gold standard” of intelligence tests for preschool age children, however, the published normalization tables were developed based on a sample of children from the general population. Children with Autism who receive ABA early intervention frequently achieve developmental and cognitive gains at a slower rate than the general population, resulting in standard scores often appearing to decrease, rather than reflect progress actually made. The use of norms specifically developed for the autism population would allow a more accurate presentation and interpretation of changes in cognitive functioning. Previous research presented WPPSI-3 norm tables, developed from pre-treatment administrations of the WPPSI-3 to nearly 500 children with Autism, to provide a basis for interpretations of a child’s test scores relative to other children with Autism. In the present study a sample of 216 WPPSI-3 test scores from children with Autism, who had received ABA treatment for one year, were examined for consistency with the norms developed from the original sample. Implications for use of these special population norms are also discussed.



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