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 #262
CE Offered: BACB
We're Not Always Screaming for Attention: Considerations for Suicidal Behaviors and Bizarre Vocalizations
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Crystal Ballroom B, Hyatt Regency, Green West
Area: CBM/TPC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Shannon Shea McDonald Shea (WCI-Work, Community, Independence)
Discussant: David B. Lennox (QBS Inc.)
CE Instructor: Shannon Shea McDonald Shea, M.S.

Practitioners working with developmentally disabled populations frequently contact dually diagnosed individuals that present with less common, but clinically relevant behavioral concerns such as bizarre speech and suicidal behaviors. Behavior analysts generally are not trained to evaluate or treat the specific topographies presented in these less common behaviors. However they may be the only treatment team member available to help or provide guidance to staff members. While assessment and treatment for these behaviors is theoretically the same, there are some less common factors to keep in mind when intervening functionally in complex and dangerous behaviors. Treating bizarre speech as simply attention maintained, or suicidal behaviors as simple self injury could have extreme consequences. Even when suicidal behaviors are maintained by attention, extinction or NCR may be too high risk to consider for implementation. Factors the behavior analyst should consider when evaluating and treating complex behaviors will be discussed. Possible assessment and treatment options for further investigation will be reviewed. Special consideration when responding to these behaviors may prevent injury or death, as well as improve the individual's quality of life. We will also suggest important areas for future research.

Keyword(s): bizarre speech, self injury, suicide

Managing Risk in Suicidal Individuals With Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

SHANNON SHEA MCDONALD SHEA (WCI-Work, Community, Independence)

Behavior Analysts are often the only sole Mental Health Professionals in organizations supporting Individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities. Suicidal statements and attempts (suicidal behaviors) would certainly be classified as maladaptive behaviors, and it is common for support staff to ask a Behavior Analyst for guidance when these behaviors are exhibited. However, many Behavior Analysts have little or no background in Mental Health or Social Work. This leaves us woefully unprepared to confidently respond to suicidal behaviors. This session will address simple screening and prevention methods by identifying Setting Events and Establishing Operations that may increase the likelihood of a suicide attempt. Common misconceptions about suicide in general and specific to the ID/DD population will be clarified. Finally, we will suggest some possible responses to suicidal behavior for each functional behavior class. There is little awareness of suicide risk in the ID/DD population, although Individuals with ID/DD attempt and have completed suicide. Increasing awareness of Suicide Risk and promoting future research is essential to address one of the most preventable causes of death across the lifespan.

Complex Behaviors, Complex Solutions: What is the Behavior Analysts Role in Treating Less Common Behaviors
COURTNEY BUCKLEY (Vinfen Corporation)
Abstract: Bizarre, non-contextual speech or erratic behaviors presumed to be exhibited in response to covert stimuli are often left unattended in Functional Analysis and treatment. However, this class of behavior is not extraordinarily different from other behaviors, and are certainly within the realm of study for the Behavior Analyst. With an estimated 30-35% of intellectually disabled individuals carrying comorbid mental health diagnoses, Behavior Analysis has a foundation upon which to start taking a closer look at treatment of these complex behaviors impacting one of our most common treatment populations. Some initial attempts to evaluate and treat the complex contingencies mediating bizarre speech and other unusual behaviors have identified attention as a function of behavior, while these results are promising in a conventional sense they present some misconceptions that can be conveyed in present research. These and other studies will be reviewed with a focus on major factors to consider when attempting to evaluate and treat bizarre speech patterns and other complex behaviors.



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