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 #53
CE Offered: BACB
Is This a Bad Fad: Further Experimental Analyses of Questionable Treatments in Autism
Saturday, May 29, 2010
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
202AB (CC)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Cecilia McCarton (The McCarton School)
Discussant: Cathy Bryson (The Sage Colleges)
CE Instructor: Mark Dixon, Ph.D.
Abstract: Autism has been called a "fad magnet" due to the number of treatments used for persons with autism that have little or no research evidence to support their effectiveness. It is crucial that caregivers utilize treatments that are rooted in valid empirical evidence showing that they work in ameliorating behavioral, social, and communicative disabilities. The purpose of this symposium is to describe what constitutes criteria for labeling a treatment has having evidence to support its effectiveness, and then to describe two experimental studies designed to test the effectiveness of two treatments for which there seem to be little empirical support at this time. Oral-motor exercises have long been used by speech pathologists in the belief that strengthening oral-motor musculature will result in improved speech. Sensory Integration therapy has been consistently rated as one of the most popular treatments in autism treatment. There is an assumption that these two methods are empirically validated; however, a review of the research finds little well-designed research to support this contention. The two studies utilized participants with autism and they received these treatments for behavioral targets identified by the respective speech therapists and occupational therapists. Results will be presented in terms of the degree to which they meet the criteria of empirical verification and the definition of evidenced-based practice.
Evidenced Based Practice: A Review of the Criteria That Constitutes Evidence
THOMAS L. ZANE (The Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges), Jennifer Hanson (Springbrook)
Abstract: Over the past several years, there has been an increasing interest in implementing treatments considered “evidenced-based practice” in education in general and autism in particular. Numerous state and federal agencies (e.g., United States Department of Education, Association for Science in Autism Treatment, American Psychological Association) have promoted the notion that educational interventions must have a foundation of well-designed quality “research” that supports the assumption that the intervention actually does produce positive results. Although this perspective is welcomed, there is some debate as to what exactly the criteria are that constitutes ‘evidence.” We reviewed the criteria for evidenced-based practice of 16 national organizations that promulgate such criteria for evidenced-based practice. Results showed that there is widespread disagreement as to what actually should be considered as evidence. Results were discussed in terms of what behavior analysts could do to promote a more consensual understanding of what treatments actually have research support of effectiveness.
Examining the Relationship Between Oral Motor Exercises and Articulation Ability in Students With Autism
LAURA PRESTIA (The McCarton School), Mary Jane Weiss (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), Ivy J. Feldman (McCarton School), Barrie Jakabovics (The McCarton School), Thomas L. Zane (The Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges)
Abstract: Speech therapists frequently use oral motor exercises to enhance articulation. However, the association between such exercises and articulation is not yet proven, and is the subject of some debate even within the speech and language pathology community of professionals. (ASHA has a position statement that does not support their use, yet they are used by 80% of speech therapists serving children with autism). Preliminary correlational data failed to show a strong correlation between ability to perform commonly prescribed exercises (such as horn blowing) and performance on standard measures of articulation. The current study utilized several children with autism who displayed speech deficiencies. Oral motor exercises were used in an attempt to improve articulation ability. Data presented will expand this data analysis, examining whether the ability to perform such exercises is associated with functional articulation skills. In addition, data will be presented on the results of instruction in such exercises, and the corollary impact on articulation. Results will be reviewed in the context of commitment to evidence-based intervention.
Examining the Impact of Weighted Vests on Stereotypic Behavior and Engagement
IVY J. FELDMAN (McCarton School), Thomas L. Zane (The Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sage Colleges), Mary Jane Weiss (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), Jacqueline Hickey (The McCarton School), Barrie Jakabovics (The McCarton School)
Abstract: Sensory integration therapy is one of the most commonly used treatments for young children with autism. Believing that behavioral dysfunction is often caused by a dysfunctional sensory system, occupational therapists frequently claim that vests can reduce stereotypic behavior and increase engagement. However, little evidence exists to support these claims and recommendations, yet vests are commonly recommended and used. In this study, single case methodology is applied to empirically examine the effectiveness of vests on stereotypic behavior and on engagement of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Weighted and pressure vests were used to improve performance and to reduce stereotypy. The protocol developed was done in conjunction with OT professionals, who also trained and periodically assessed the fidelity of the procedural application. Data were collected during vest-wearing sessions and for 30 minutes after the session. Results are discussed in the context of evidence-based practice, efficiency of instructional time, and ABA's commitment to effectiveness.



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