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 #425
Further Advances in the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Problem Behavior
Monday, May 31, 2010
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
217D (CC)
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In this symposium, current research relevant to the ways in which sever problem behavior is assessed and treated is highlighted. Topics include assessment of loud noise as an establishing operation evoking problem behavior in individuals diagnosed with autism, assessment of pain sensitivity in individuals diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and discussion of its relation to self injury; analysis of the effects of manipulation of the quality of negative reinforcement on treatment of escape maintained problem behavior, and an analysis of the integrity with which staff implement NCR and DRO treatment schedules.
Assessing Problem Behavior Reported to be Evoked by Noise
ALLISON JOSEPHINE CASTILE (The New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Caregivers of individuals with developmental disabilities sometimes report that problem behavior occurs in the presence of loud environments. The purpose of the current study is to assess auditory stimuli as establishing operations for problem behavior. All participants were referred for problem behavior reported to occur in the presence of specific noises. All participants were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and engaged in severe self-injurious behavior and aggression. An auditory-stimulus assessment was conducted using multielement and reversal designs. In test conditions, a particular auditory stimulus was presented at the beginning of a session and terminated upon the first instance of behavior. No interaction conditions served as a control. Findings are discussed in terms of the utility of an auditory-stimulus assessment in identifying establishing operations that evoke problem behavior reported to occur in the presence of loud noise.
Pain Sensitivity, Self-Injurious Behavior, and the Prader-Willi Syndrome
GRIFFIN W. ROOKER (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Erin Camp (University of Florida)
Abstract: Numerous biological theories have been proposed to explain the development of self-injurious behavior (SIB). One such factor is an abnormality in the response to painful stimulation, although very little research has objectively measured pain sensitivity in individuals with developmental disabilities. The purpose of this study was to assess pain sensitivity in the Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), a well-defined genetic disorder known for having a high prevalence of SIB, because previous reports have suggested that individuals with PWS may be less sensitive to painful stimulation. Forty subjects (12 diagnosed with PWS who engaged in SIB, 13 controls diagnosed with PWS who did not engage in SIB, and 15 nonclinical controls) participated in a cold-pressor test, which involved timed immersion of the hand in cold water. Results indicated that subjects diagnosed with PWS were more sensitive to pain than were nonclinical subjects, and that PWS subjects who engaged in SIB were the most sensitive. These results suggest a tentative relation between SIB and automatic negative reinforcement in the PWS population.
Competing Contingencies for Escape: Effects of Negative Reinforcement Quality
JENNIFER LYNN HAMMOND (Stanford University), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida), Jill M. Harper (University of Florida), Tara A. Fahmie (University of Florida)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that problem behavior maintained by social-negative reinforcement might be treated without extinction by enhancing the quality of positive reinforcement for an appropriate alternative response such as compliance. By contrast, negative reinforcement (escape) for compliance generally has been ineffective in the absence of extinction. It is possible, however, that escape for compliance might be effective if the quality of negative reinforcement for compliance is greater than that for problem behavior. We examined the effects of negative reinforcement quality with 4 individuals whose problem behavior occurred in the context of demands. During the treatment comparison, compliance produced a 30-s break from demands. Problem behavior also produced escape; however, problem behavior was blocked during the escape interval. Treatment effects were achieved for 3 of 4 subjects when the quality of negative reinforcement was manipulated. Enhancing the quality of positive reinforcement for compliance was required for the remaining subject. Taken together, results suggest that reducing the quality of negative reinforcement for problem behavior via blocking may be effective even though task demands are removed for a period of time.
Consistency of Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior and Noncontingent Reinforcement Schedules Implemented by Direct Care Staff Members
MEAGAN GREGORY (University of Florida), Brian A. Iwata (University of Florida)
Abstract: Two commonly used function-based treatments for problem behavior exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities are differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) and noncontingent reinforcement (NCR). It has been suggested that NCR may be easier to implement than DRO because NCR does not require continuous monitoring of behavior. If so, it should follow that NCR might be implemented with a higher degree of consistency than DRO, although such a comparison has not been conducted. The purpose of this study was to examine the degree of consistency with which interval DRO, momentary DRO, and NCR are implemented by direct-care staff. Graduate and undergraduate students played the roles of confederate “clients” during simulated situations by following precise scripts that determined the rate and distribution of “problem behavior.” Staff members (subjects) received training on procedural implementation immediately prior to sessions, and data were taken on the number and type of errors made by subjects. Results showed that error rates were much lower for NCR than for DRO.



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