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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #263
CE Offered: BACB
Nonlinear Applied Behavior Analysis and Challenging Behavior: Implications and Applications
Sunday, May 30, 2010
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
Bonham C (Grand Hyatt)
Area: TPC/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Gary W. LaVigna (Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis)
Discussant: T. V. Joe Layng (Headsprout)
CE Instructor: Joseph Gentry, Ph.D.
Abstract: Goldiamond's "Alternative Sets" and "Constructional Approach" represent seminal articulations of non-linear applied behavior analysis (N-ABA). Nevertheless, even though these contributions are recognized and respected, they have not had the wide impact on research and practice they deserve in the general field of applied behavior analysis. One exception to this may be in the area of challenging behavior. This symposium makes explicit the influence and potential that N-ABA has had on supporting people with challenging behavior and, in particular, the role it has played in the development of positive behavior supports (PBS). The first paper examines the existing and potential implications and applications, some of which seem to fly in the face of linear thinking. The second specifically looks at the implications and applications of alternative contingency sets on both functional assessment and behavioral support. The third reviews the nascent N-ABA research providing the evidence base for this approach. The discussion of this symposium is provided by one of the field’s most prolific writers on the topic of N-ABA.
Nonlinear Applied Behavior Analysis: Implications for Supporting People With Challenging Behavior
GARY W. LAVIGNA (Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis), Thomas J. Willis (Institute For Applied Behavior Analysis)
Abstract: This paper defines the differences and provides examples of linear applied behavior analysis (ABA), with its emphasis on ABC’s (antecedents, behavior, and consequences) in performing an analysis of function/meaning and in intervention, and nonlinear ABA (N-ABA), that goes beyond the ABC’s. This presentation also describes the contributions N-ABA can make in supporting people with severe and challenging behavior. First and foremost among these is the emphasis on positive programming, aimed at increasing the “alternative sets” available to the person in getting their needs met. However, also of great importance is the contribution in can make to a technology of reactive strategies aimed at reducing “episodic severity.” (Episodic severity is defined at a measure of intensity or gravity of a behavioral incident.) Applications of N-ABA in developing reactive strategies, with minimum negative side-effects, may render the use of traditional emergency management systems, especially those that include the use of physical management and other restrictive practices, obsolete and result in fewer and less severe consumer, staff, and community injuries and fewer harmful effects. Research templates for empirically exploring these possibilities are described.
Alternative Contingency Sets: Overview and Implications for Analysis and Intervention
MARTA LEON (Headsprout)
Abstract: This presentation will draw on Israel Goldiamond’s analysis of alternative contingency sets (also knows as non-linear analysis) as a means to increase the quantity and quality of analytical tools available to those working in applied areas. Analysis of alternative contingency sets helps explain, among other things, why even well-implemented extinction procedures may fail to reduce problem or challenging behavior and why procedures based on positive reinforcement may fail to increase target behavior. More importantly, the analysis of alternative contingency sets sheds light on response patterns that may seem to run contrary to the behavioral principles as traditionally understood within linear analyses of behavior. This presentation will provide an overview of some of the concepts and principles considered in the analysis of alternative contingency sets, and relate them to common challenges and considerations relevant to the practice of applied behavior analysis. The issue of coercion will also be discussed from the standpoint of alternative contingency sets. Specifically, coercion will be conceptualized as being a function of the degrees of freedom present in the contingency, as opposed to being defined solely by the absence of aversive consequences.
Empirical Support for the Applications of Nonlinear Behavior Analysis in the Area of Challenging Behavior
LORI A. DOTSON (Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis), Priya Runyon (Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis)
Abstract: The roots of Positive Behavior Support are embedded in Goldiamond’s non-linear applied behavior analysis (N-ABA). This presentation reviews the research and the empirical support for N-ABA. Both basic and applied studies are reviewed and their relevance for working with people with challenging behavior is discussed. The applied studies reviewed include single subject, multiple baseline research as well as group design studies, including one with an experimental control group. While Kazdin Type III case studies are also included for the valid inferences that can be drawn from them, exemplars of single subject research designs that demonstrate the influence of non-linear variables on behavior are emphasized. Emphasis will also be placed on those studies that highlight the paradoxically different conclusions drawn from linear in contrast to the non-linear analysis of behavior. Finally, recommendations are made for future research in the investigation of both proactive and reactive strategies for supporting people with challenging behavior.



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