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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #213
CE Offered: BACB
Applied Behavior Analytic Interventions for Genetic Syndromes: Down Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome
Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Grand Suite 3, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: DDA/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Nicole M. Neil (Michigan State University)
CE Instructor: Nicole M. Neil, Ph.D.
Abstract: Knowledge about the genetic basis of disabilities has increased over the past decades, yet a limited amount of research demonstrates the application of behavior-analytic interventions to address the needs associated with common genetic syndromes. This symposium will describe research findings from several intervention studies targeting individuals with Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. The first presentation discusses the use of behavioral interventions targeting exploratory motor and babbling in infants with Down syndrome, the second presentation will describe how modifying the intensity of intervention affects learner acquisition and in-session behavior for learners with Down syndrome, and the third presentation will illustrate effective techniques for individuals with Fragile X syndrome. We will highlight how knowledge about the behavioral phenotype can act as a barrier to designing interventions (by creating an illusion that the behavior is not malleable), and aid in informing interventions (by identifying strengths on which to build).
Keyword(s): Babbling, Communication, Down syndrome, Fragile X

Interventions for Infants With Down Syndrome: A Behavior Analytic Model

THERESA FIANI (City University of New York - The Graduate Center), Sara Bauer (The Graduate Center of the City University of New York), Emily A. Jones (Queens College, The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Individuals with Down syndrome show a distinct behavioral phenotype characterized by relative weakness in expressive language and relative strengths in social interest. The characteristic phenotype of individuals with Down syndrome develops early in infancy with delays in the duration and frequency of exploratory motor behavior (manipulating a toy in the hand) and in the onset of babbling, speech sounds and vocal imitation. We present a behavior-analytic model, which explains the early differences in exploratory motor and speech sounds. Using this model, we examined interventions for infants with Down syndrome. A behavior-analytic intervention involving multiple opportunities, prompting, and social reinforcement was used to teach three infants with Down syndrome between 5-9 months of age to emit exploratory motor behavior with the same frequency and duration as typically developing infants. We also examined contingent vocal imitation as a reinforcer to increase the rate of babbling in infants with Down syndrome. The importance of these findings and collateral changes in related skill areas will be discussed.


Using Intervention Intensity to Maximize Acquisition of Language for Learners With Down Syndrome

NICOLE M. NEIL (Michigan State University), Emily A. Jones (Queens College, The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Maximizing outcomes for learners with Down syndrome requires an approach which is both effective and efficient. Modifying the intensity of intervention has the potential to affect the rate of skill acquisition as well as other learner behavior, such as task persistence, which alters the efficiency of intervention. We will discuss the results of study which determined the effect of varying intensity levels of discrete-trial instruction on acquisition and task persistence for young children with Down syndrome. Three children with Down syndrome were taught expressive language targets using three manipulations of intervention intensity (dose): the number of opportunities, the spacing of opportunities, and the session duration. We measured the effects of intensity on skill acquisition and task persistence (off-task behavior and affect). Children acquired targets faster in conditions in which the spacing of opportunities was shorter than conditions in which the spacing was longer. Manipulating dose produced individual differences during the different intensity levels in the two measures of task persistence.


Behavioral Interventions for Children With Fragile X Syndrome

LAUREN MOSKOWITZ (St. John's University), Carmen Mootz (St. John's University), Emily A. Jones (Queens College, The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Parents and professionals typically report problem behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injury, tantrums) as their greatest concern regarding their children with fragile X syndrome (FXS). However, there is currently a paucity of applied intervention research to reduce problem behavior and improve quality of life in this population. We will discuss the results of our study which explored whether behaviorally-based assessment and intervention targeting specific problematic contexts would result in a reduction in problem behavior and an improvement in quality of life for three children with FXS and their families. Based on the results of a functional assessment, a multi-component intervention plan was developed to teach the parents and child to effectively cope with the problematic context. A multiple baseline design was used to demonstrate intervention effects for specific high-priority contexts (bedtime, running errands, and toileting) in home and community settings. Following intervention, there were substantial improvements in problem behavior and family quality of life for all three participants within the targeted contexts. Results demonstrated that many of the behaviors observed in children with FXS are amenable to behavioral interventions that involve altering the antecedents and consequences related to such behaviors. We will also present data comparing direct versus indirect prompting in FXS.




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