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 #447
CE Offered: BACB — 
Advances in the Functional Analysis and Treatment of Problem Behavior
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Grand Ballroom CD South, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: DDA/PRA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Javier Virues-Ortega (The University of Auckland)
Discussant: Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Javier Virues-Ortega, Ph.D.
Abstract: This symposium presents a series of original studies featuring functional analysis methodology and function-based interventions for a variety of problem behaviors in individuals with and without disabilities. S. Taylor’s study introduces a novel approach to the functional analysis of feeding disorders among children with nasogastric tube dependency. She conducted a series of gradual antecedent manipulations of volume, texture, feeding method, and other important antecedent dimensions. This assessment strategy is aimed at identifying an optimal start point for treatment. The initial phases of functional communication training (FCT) often use dense schedules followed by a schedule thinning procedure. The study by N. Nuhu features an experimental analysis of schedule-thinning procedures following FCT among individuals with problem behavior maintained by escape from demands. The current analysis compared the effects of two schedule thinning procedures: chained schedules and multiple schedules. K. A. Benhart examined the effect of reinforcement delay during the differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) of automatically maintained food stealing. The authors evaluated the latency to the alternative response and food stealing across progressively increasing reinforcement delays. Finally, A. Cox presents a series of extended side-by-side functional analyses conducted before and after psychotropic prescription changes among individuals with intellectual disability and problem behavior. Medication changes provided the opportunity to conduct analogues to parametric and reversal experimental analyses using medication changes as a secondary independent variable.
Keyword(s): feeding disorders, food stealing, psychotropic medication, schedule thinning

An Antecedent-Based Assessment Model for Children With Severe Feeding Disorders

SARAH LEADLEY (The University of Auckland), Javier Virues-Ortega (The University of Auckland)

There is increasing use of antecedent-based treatments in the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders, but limited reporting of systematic assessment of antecedent manipulations. In the current study, we developed an experimental assessment method to evaluate the effects of varied antecedent manipulations (e.g., changes to liquid or food properties) on acceptance or mealtime problem behaviour. Conditions showing the most improvement are matched to an individualized treatment protocol for each child. This study is conducted in family homes in New Zealand, with children that are dependent on some degree of tube feeding to meet their nutritional needs. Preliminary results from five participants have shown that this assessment may identify effective treatment protocols to increase oral nutrition in the absence of escape extinction.

Schedule Thinning Following Functional Communication Training: A Comparison of Chained Schedules and Multiple Schedules
NADRATU NUHU (Auburn University), Sacha T. Pence (Auburn University)
Abstract: Functional communication training (FCT) is used to reduce rates of problem behavior by teaching communicative responses that access functionally equivalent reinforcers. During the initial phases of FCT, the communicative response is typically placed on a dense schedule of reinforcement that is not likely to be maintained in the natural environment. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of two schedule-thinning procedures (chained schedules and multiple schedules) following the implementation of FCT with problem behavior maintained by escape from demands. In Experiment 1, a reversal design was used to demonstrate experimental control over the effects of FCT on rates of problem behavior with three participants. A multielement design was used to compare the chained schedule and multiple schedule thinning procedures on rates of compliance, the communicative response, and problem behavior. In general, participants engaged in similar levels of problem behavior in the chained and multiple-schedule conditions as they progressed through schedule thinning. For some participants, higher rates of compliance were observed during the chained-schedule conditions. Following the completion of schedule thinning, preferences for the two schedule thinning conditions will be assessed in Experiment 2 with a modified concurrent-chain preference assessment.
The Effects of Delayed Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior on Food Stealing
KELLY ALEXANDRA BENHART (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: A series of assessments were conducted to determine whether an alternative response could be taught to replace food stealing. Three students in a residential school for children with autism participated. We examined the durability of the alternative response by measuring the latency to the alternative response and food stealing across progressively increasing delays. Results of a functional analysis indicated that food stealing was automatically maintained for all participants. A DRA with immediate reinforcement decreased food stealing, but, once a delay to reinforcement was introduced, food stealing increased for all participants. The reinforcement schedule was successfully thinned for all three participants, however, the effective treatment varied slightly for each individual. Delay fading with praise was effective for one participant, and a ratio fading procedure was effective for the other two participants. Interobserver agreement was calculated for 33% of sessions for all participants and averaged over 95% for all dependent measures, and for all participants.

Long-Term Dynamics of Automatically- and Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior Exposed to Antipsychotic Medication: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis.

ALISON COX (University of Manitboa), Javier Virues-Ortega (The University of Auckland)

Psychopharmacological and behavioral interventions are used to treat challenging behaviors in individuals with intellectual disability (ID), often in combination. However, little is known about the interaction between medication pharmacodynamics and behavior function. A better understanding of these mechanisms could serve as the conceptual foundation for combined interventions. We conducted extended functional analyses to assess the impact on behavior function of various dosages of primarily antipsychotic medications. We explored the relation between the changes in medication (i.e., new prescription, dosage change in an existing prescription) and problem behavior by conducted a very long series of functional analysis sessions. Four individuals with ID and challenging behavior who were also receiving psychotropic medications participated. Behavior function remain the same after a change in medication in 14 out of the 21 medication manipulations examined.




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