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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Paper Session #44
Topics in Autism
Sunday, September 29, 2019
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 6, A3/A4
Area: AUT
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Jessica R. Everett (Melmark New England)
A Review of Autism-Related Catatonia and Applied Behavior Analysis: Intervening Effectively
Domain: Service Delivery
JESSICA R. EVERETT (Melmark New England), Barbara O'Malley Cannon (Melmark New England)
Abstract: Catatonia is marked by behavioral features involving disturbances in speech and movement (APA, 2013). Similarly, autism spectrum disorders are defined by behavioral deficits in social interaction and restricted, repetitive behaviors and interests (APA, 2013). Autism Related Catatonia is marked by increased slowness, difficulty initiating and completing actions, increased reliance on prompting, passivity, and an increase in repetitive and ritualistic behavior (Wing & Shah, 2000). Many individuals with autism related catatonia are noted to present with posturing, freezing, and to exhibit agitated movements. Current estimates suggest that autism related catatonia is present in 12-18% of individuals with an existing autism spectrum diagnosis (DeJong, Bunton, & Hare, 2014). Empirical literature supporting evidence-based treatment for autism related catatonia is limited and includes use of medication, electroconvulsive shock therapy, and behavioral treatments (DeJong et al., 2014). The current proposal describes the effective treatment of behavioral features of autism related catatonia using applied behavior analysis. Treatment includes the modification of a self-monitoring protocol (Everett & Dennis, 2009) that was implemented with a 19 year old male with autism related catatonia to reduce motor stereotypy. The protocol included a discrimination procedure to identify motor stereotypy, establishing stimulus control, self-recording, and shaping of the absence of behavior. A multiple-baseline design was used to assess the generalization of the treatment protocol across staff. Data demonstrates a reduction in motor stereotypy intervals within treatment sessions across multiple providers. Additional techniques used to reduce the behavioral features of autism related catatonia include shaping of movement using reinforcement; functional communication training, and compliance training. Instructional procedures and data will be presented for each technique that is reviewed. Issues in identifying and diagnosing autism related catatonia will be discussed in light of developing evidence-based and clinically appropriate intervention.
Using Essential for Living to Determine the Efficacy of Selection-Based Communication Systems Among Learners Without Alternative Methods of Speaking
Domain: Applied Research
EMILY BEAL WILKINSON (Victory Academy), Kristina Vera Montgomery (Victory Academy), Danielle Vernon (Victory Academy), Anna DeMots (Victory Academy), Katie Anderson (Victory Academy)
Abstract: Typically, behavior analysts assess the need for augmentative or alternative communication systems by analyzing a client’s vocal-verbal behavior, fine and gross motor skills, visual discrimination and selection skills, and behavioral barriers (Valentino, et al., 2018; Sundberg, 1993). However, little research exists that establishes criteria for specific device selection, once the need has been determined, and few guidelines are given for creating a decision protocol to abandon one device for another, potentially more appropriate system. The Essential for Living (EFL) curriculum and assessment is a “comprehensive functional, life skills curriculum, assessment, and skill-tracking instrument designed for learners with moderate to severe disabilities and limited skill repertoires” (McGreevy, Fry, & Cornwall, 2014, p. 1). The assessment initiates a vocal-verbal intake of the client and provides clear categories of vocal profiles and speaker behavior to assess the need for alternative or augmentative communication systems. We used the EFL to specifically categorize the verbal skills of 21 students, across three life-skills classrooms, and found that, of the 12 students who were eligible for or using devices, seven did not meet criteria for an effective method of speaking. Those students were then given novel communication devices, or their devices were traded for systems that lowered the response effort needed to request specific items, by initially eliminating the need for a two-hit response to access preferred items. The results, measured in session data and an EFL posttest, demonstrated increased acceptance, engagement, and accuracy with the novel systems.

CANCELED: The Effectiveness of an Intervention Program in Enhancing Sensory Processing and Reducing Stereotyped Behavior of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Study From Oman

Domain: Applied Research
MAHMOUD MOHAMED EMAM (Sultan Qaboos University, The Sultanate of Oman)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by qualitative impairments in social interaction and communication skill, along with a restricted repetitive and stereotyped pattern of behavior. In addition to these core features of autism, researchers have reported that children and adolescents with ASD respond to sensory experiences differently from peers without disabilities. These sensory processing disorders are well documented in the basic science literature clinical literature and first-person accounts of living with autism. In fact, the initial appearance of these sensory processing findings often predates. The current study aimed to examine the effect of training children with ASD on body awareness exercises on reducing stereotyped behaviour and improving sensory processing. A two group experimental design was used to test the effectiveness of the training program. A sample of16 children aged 5 to 7 years were purposefully selected from the and were divided into an experimental group and a control group. The training program continued for three months. In addition children’s response was assessed using Short Sensory Profile, and the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R). Based on the use of nonparametric analyses of Mann Whitney and Wilcoxon tests, findings showed that the training program was effective in reducing the stereotyped behavior and improved the sensory processing of the experimental group as compared to the control group.

The University of California at Los Angeles Young Autism Project: A Systematic Review of Replication Studies of the Model
Domain: Applied Research
MICHAEL NICOLOSI (Queen's University Belfast; Voce nel Silenzio Onlus.)
Abstract: University of California at Los Angeles - Young Autism Project (UCLA-YAP) provided one of the best known and most researched applied behaviour analysis (ABA)-based intervention models for young children with autism. The present study is a systematic literature review of replication studies over more than 30 years to assess the impact that the UCLA-YAP model has on cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviour of children with autism. The data show that UCLA-YAP model can be highly beneficial for children with autism in both domains, while low-intensity ABA-based interventions and eclectic treatments have less or no impact. Findings suggest that highly structured and systematic ABA-based approaches, such as UCLA-YAP model, can be considered powerful interventions to address cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior development of children with autism. The study concludes that while more research is always welcome, the influence of the UCLA-YAP model on autism interventions is justified by over 30 years of evidence.



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