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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Paper Session #382
Issues in the Understanding and Diagnosis of Autism
Monday, May 31, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
207AB (CC)
Area: AUT
Chair: Jina Jang (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
An Analysis of Relations Between Challenging Behavior and Symptom Severity in a Large Sample of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Dennis Dixon (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), JINA JANG (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Jonathan J. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Arthur E. Wilke (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been reported to engage in a wide range of challenging behaviors (Horner et al., 2002; Matson et al, 2009). However, the overall prevalence of these behaviors in children with ASD is not well known. Further, challenging behaviors have a significant impact upon the delivery of early intensive behavioral interventions (EIBI). In the present study, challenging behaviors were assessed in 88 children with autism spectrum disorders. Overall, 93% of the sample engaged in some form of challenging behavior. When contrasted to the severity of ASD, a significant relationship was found, such that those children with more severe ASD engaged in higher levels of challenging behaviors than children with mild or moderate ASD scores. Prevalence of various topographies of challenging behavior (e.g., aggression, disruption, stereotypy, self-injury) are also analyzed. These data represent an early step in determining the prevalence of challenging behaviors of various sorts and the relations of these behaviors to ASD severity, for children with ASD overall. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of targeting challenging behaviors within EIBI programs. Further, the successful remediation of these behaviors may play a significant role in the overall outcome of EIBI programs.
Comprehensive Contextual Assessment and Antecedent-Based Supports for Individuals With Autism and Complex Needs
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
JOHN KOSMOPOULOS (York Central Hospital)
Abstract: Context is everything in the scientific field of applied behaviour analysis. Individuals with challenging behaviour require comprehensive and effective multimodal assessments and supports based on a more global analysis model of stimulus control variables so that scientist-practitioners may fully comprehend how the function of behaviour is strongly influenced by specific and synergistic physiological, social, environmental and motivational variables. There is a need to fully appreciate and expand our functional behavioural analyses to best meet the needs of individuals with autism, dual diagnoses and complex profiles. This review will address the need for a comprehensive exploration and remediation of broad contextual and motivational variables using newer behavioural models of support. Specifically, the author will review a new and reliable biopsychosocial assessment questionnaire for determining putative and broad contextual and motivational variables, along with possible function(s) of behaviour, and its use in generating hypotheses and possible support strategies. Case studies involving individuals with autism, fetal alcohol syndrome and acquired brain injury will be utilized to illustrate the need for an inclusive analysis of complex behaviours.
Toward an Account of Habituation Patterns in Young Children With Autism
Domain: Experimental Analysis
THOMAS G. SZABO (University of Nevada, Reno), W. Larry Williams (University of Nevada, Reno), Palwasha Ahad (University of Nevada, Reno), Jeffrey Hutsler (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Habituation is a critical process in infant development that if improperly acquired, will result in inadequate environmental control over a child’s behavior and could have important implications for future acquisition of emotional repertoires, language, and cognitive development. The current investigation examined whether children with autism demonstrate patterns of habituation to repeating auditory stimuli that differ from typically developing peers. In experiment one, three dyads consisting of a child with autism and a typically developing peer matched on age and gender were exposed to repeating pulsating tones of 500, 2000, and 12,000 Hz at a constant intensity of 60 dB while playing a computer game. Subsequently, the children were exposed to repeating 60 dB tones while being read to by the experimenter. In experiment two, three new dyads were exposed to 500, 2000, and 8000 Hz tones at 70 dB during a game condition, and subsequently exposed to tones in both reading and no-activity conditions. The effects of repeated stimulus exposure on orienting response, auditory brainstem response, galvanic skin response, and operant response accuracy were measured to conduct within-subject, within-session, and within-dyad comparisons. Data suggest sensory dysfunction in autism may be mediated by disrupted habituation and moderated by conditioned reinforcement.
Infant Siblings of Children With Autism: Results of a Parent-Child Intervention
Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
GRACE W. GENGOUX (University of California), Amanda P. Mossman (Yale University), Katarzyna Chawarska (Yale Child Study Center)
Abstract: As prospective studies of infant siblings at increased genetic risk for ASD begin to identify infants who show signs of atypical social and communication development within the first year of life, there is a critical need for the investigation of evidence-based treatments suitable for an at-risk infant population. The present study investigates the effects of a developmentally-based adaptation of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT; L.K. Koegel et al., 1999) aimed at improving the prelinguistic communication behaviors in three 12-month-old infants at risk for ASD. The parent-child intervention included 10 hours of instruction and in-vivo practice of strategies to increase the infant’s nonverbal communication. A multiple-baseline design across participants was employed and results indicated immediate increases in frequency and spontaneity of communication and all three parents learned to implement the procedures with at least 75% fidelity. This preliminary study provides support for 1) the feasibility of a developmentally-based adaptation of PRT, 2) the efficacy of these procedures in improving prelinguistic communication in children at risk, and 3) the efficiency of the parent education approach. Implications of these findings for understanding developmental trajectories and treatment needs of infants at risk for ASD will be discussed, and areas for further investigation will be proposed.



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