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 #386
Recent Developments in Assessment
Monday, May 31, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
217D (CC)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England College)
Abstract: This session will describe research involving the assessment of the behavior of individuals diagnosed with autism, their teachers, and Behavior Analysts responsible for evaluating intervention effects. Three papers will address restricted and repetitive behavior patterns among individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. These assessments are aimed at (a) understanding environmental variables contributing to these behavior patterns, (b) comparing the performances of children with autism and their typical peers, and (c) describing some effects of restricted behavior patterns on caregiver behavior. Together these papers help to more clearly describe this characteristic of autism and identify some environmental variables contributing to these sometimes problematic repertoires. One paper will describe the assessment of the behavior of applied researchers. Representative Board Certified Behavior Analysts and Applied Researchers identified as experts were asked to make point-by-point decision regarding the length of a baseline phase. Results showed consistency across participants, although agreement was lower when data were more variable. Behavior Analysts’ written responses to open ended questions provide some preliminary information regarding clinical variables that may contribute to this scientific decision making. Together these presentations will illustrate variations in measurement and assessment type and will highlight the clinical and scientific value of these assessments.
Assessment and Treatment of Arranging and Ordering in Individuals With Autism
NICOLE M. RODRIGUEZ (Western New England College), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England College), Kevin J. Schlichenmeyer (The New England Center for Children), Corey Scot Stocco (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Among the diagnostic features of autism, relatively little research has been devoted to restrictive and repetitive behavior, particularly, forms of repetitive behavior that have been described as “higher-level” (e.g., rigidity in routines or “compulsive” behavior such as arranging objects in patterns or rows; Turner, 1999). Like vocal or motor stereotypy, higher-level repetitive behavior can be associated with negative outcomes such as impaired skill acquisition, negative social consequences, and severe problem behavior associated with interruption of stereotyped behavior. In the present study, we extended the functional assessment model to the assessment and treatment of arranging and ordering in individuals diagnosed with autism. Specifically, we (a) gathered information through interviews and direct observation, regarding environmental events associated with the problem behavior (b) experimentally manipulated a subset of environmental events to determine their effects on arranging and ordering, and then (c) developed interventions based on results of our experimental analyses. Results of our study will be discussed in the context of three individuals who received treatment for arranging and ordering and other repetitive behavior. IOA was collected on 30% of sessions and exceeded 80%.
Variability in Activity Completion Among Children With Autism and Their Typical Peers
STACIE BANCROFT (New England Center for Children), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England College), Claudia L. Dozier (University of Kansas), Amy Harper (University of Kansas), Tiffany C. Allard (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Repetitive behavior in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders may limit contact with natural consequences for varied responding. However, there has been little research directed toward assessing the degree of variability exhibited in play. In this study we assessed the amount of variability with which children completed three different activities (coloring, beading, and dressing paper dolls). Participants were 30 children diagnosed with autism and 30 typically-developing children. Each activity could be completed using between 1 and 11 stimuli (e.g., different beads). Activity products were examined by a primary observer. In addition, IOA was collected on 30% of products and exceeded 80%. On average, children diagnosed with autism showed less variable responding (i.e., used fewer stimuli) compared to their typical peers. Neither group displayed frequent repetition of patterns. Similar numbers of children in both groups completed the activity according to the sequence in which stimuli were presented. Directions for future research and implications for intervention are discussed.
The Effects of “Restricted Interests” on Caregiver Presentation of Items
COREY SCOT STOCCO (New England Center for Children), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England College), Nicole M. Rodriguez (Western New England College), Kevin J. Schlichenmeyer (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Restricted and repetitive behavior (RRB) is more pervasive, prevalent, frequent, and severe in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), relative to their typical peers. One subtype of RRB is restricted interests in items or activities, which is evident in the manner in which individuals engage with items the types of items or activities they select or the range of items or activities they select. Restricted interests may limit sources of stimulation, and interruption of engagement with restricted interests may evoke problem behavior (Charlop-Christy & Haymes, 1996). Individuals with restricted interests may respond differentially to an array of items—positively toward preferred items and negatively toward nonpreferred items—potentially affecting the array of items presented to these individuals. The purpose of the present study was to use procedures similar to Carr et al. (1991) to evaluate the effects of the behavior of those with ASDs on caregiver presentation of items. Results show that caregiver presentation of items corresponds with differential responses provided by individuals with ASD. Those with more restricted preference experience a narrower array of items. IOA was collected on 30% of sessions and exceeded 80%.
A Description of Point-by-Point Decision Making by Experts and Board Certified Behavior Analysts
NICHOLAS R VANSELOW (New England Center for Children), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England College), Allen J. Karsina (The New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Determining whether an independent variable has had an effect upon a dependent variable is an important scientific behavior. In single-case research, the researcher relies upon visual inspection for these. Research suggests different researchers often reach different conclusions based upon visual inspection of the data. However, no experiment investigated visual decision making on a point-by-point basis. In the current experiment, we examined the decision making of ten researchers who had each served as Editor or Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and 10 BCBAs. Participants responded to a computer program that asked the participant to decide after each data point whether to continue baseline or start an intervention. Data presented were generated based on published studies in JABA. On average, participants created graphs that were one data point different from the mean number of data points in participant created graphs. However, differences between each participant’s graph and the mean increased to four data points on average as the variability of the data increased



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