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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #31
CE Offered: BACB
Treatment of Problem Behavior Without Extinction
Sunday, May 29, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Columbus Hall KL, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kimberly Sloman (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University)
Discussant: SungWoo Kahng (University of Missouri)
CE Instructor: Kimberly Sloman, Ph.D.

This symposium includes four papers on the assesssment and treatment of problem behavior in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder without the use of extinction. The first presentation by Clelia Deltour describes the assessment and treatment of problem behavior during activity transitions using differential reinforcement of appropriate behavior without extinction. The second presentation by Zoe Newman will describe a comparison of positive and negative reinforcement of approrpiate requests in the treatment of problem behavior maintained by escape from social situations, without extinction. The third presentation by Rebecca Schulman will describe an evaluation of the effects of within activity choices on escape-maintained problem behavior, without the use of extinction. The fourth paper by Chelsea Fleck will describe the treatment of meal refusal by manipulation of meal preference and modified protective equipment. Dr. SungWoo Kahng will serve as discussant.

Keyword(s): Escape, Functional Analysis, Problem Behavior, Without Extinction

Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior Occurring During Activity Transitions

CLELIA GARANCE DELTOUR (New England Center for Children), Stacy Cohen (New England Center for Children), William H. Ahearn (New England Center for Children)

Children with autism often present with difficulties during transitions (Davis, 1987). It is therefore important to develop procedures for assessing and treating problem behavior during transitions. The purpose of the present study was to replicate McCord, Thomson, and Iwata (2001) by developing and conducting an assessment and intervention for the transition-related problem behavior of two participants with disabilities. Following some pre-assessment analyses, we conducted a functional analysis of problem behavior during transitions between activities. The results suggested that problem behavior occurred in transitions involving a worsening in activity preference, for example terminating a preferred or neutral activity and initiating a non-preferred activity. Finally, we examined the effectiveness of an intervention consisting of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior without extinction on the problem behavior occurring during the transitions identified as problematic. The results suggested that differential reinforcement of alternative behavior without extinction effectively decreased problem behavior in all targeted activity transitions. Future directions will be discussed. Interobserver Agreement (IOA) was collected for at least 30% of all trials and averaged over 90% for all scored responses.


Comparison of Positive and Negative Reinforcement in the Treatment of Problem Behavior Maintained by Escape From Social Interactions

ZOE NEWMAN (University of Florida), Allen J. Karsina (New England Center for Children)

Some individuals diagnosed with autism and related disabilities engage in dangerous behavior when presented with social demands. We compared the efficacy and social validity of differential positive and negative reinforcement in the treatment of problem behavior maintained by escape from social interactions. We conducted latency functional analyses of aggression in a 16-year-old male individual diagnosed with autism and Landau-Kleffner syndrome. The results of the initial analogue analysis were inconclusive, therefore we conducted a modified analysis that included a control and test for verbal attention and physical proximity. After determining aggression was maintained by social avoidance in the form of physical proximity, we compared the use of positive reinforcement (requests for food) and negative reinforcement (requests to be alone) using a reversal design. Results indicate both procedures were equally effective in reducing rates of problem behavior to zero without the use of extinction. Social validity was assessed through surveys of caregivers and the participant's preference, and caregivers were satisfied with the procedures and the results. Generalization of treatment effects was assessed by extending the procedures to caregivers using a multiple-baseline design, and effectiveness of treatment was replicated across all caregivers. Overall, subject was able to engage in appropriate social interactions in order to access functional and arbitrary reinforcers as an alternative to aggression.

Effects of Within Activity Choice Interventions on Escape-Maintained Problem Behavior
REBECCA SCHULMAN (Rutgers University), Kimberly Sloman (Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers University)
Abstract: Historically, individuals with developmental disabilities have been given few opportunities to make choices in their daily lives across various contexts. However, research has shown that not only are individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) capable of making choices, but that choice-making interventions can be effective in reducing problem behavior and increasing appropriate behavior. To date, studies have evaluated the effects of across-activity choices (e.g., order of demands) on problem behavior and task engagement. Within activity choices (e.g., choice of materials, work location) has not been evaluated in isolation. The current study assessed the effects of providing within-activity choice for individuals who exhibited escape maintained problem behavior, with and without extinction. Results showed idiosyncratic effects of the within-activity choice across two participants in terms of rates of problem behavior, task engagement, and preference for the choice-making intervention.
Treating Meal Refusal Related to Competing Protective Equipment
CHELSEA R. FLECK (Western New England University), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Individuals diagnosed with autism and related disabilities often engage in self-injurious behavior that can create tissue damage. Protective equipment is sometimes used to decrease the severity of tissue damage when self-injury occurs. However, wearing protective equipment may be incompatible with some forms of adaptive behavior, such as meal consumption. The purpose of this analysis was to identify a treatment for meal refusal in a child diagnosed with autism who wore protective gloves to prevent tissue damage from face pinching. A second participant, also diagnosed with autism, wore protective gloves and arm splints. Two treatments were evaluated: one involved manipulation of the reinforcing efficacy of the meal (HP Meal), and the other allowed continued access to protective equipment during meal presentation (Modified Equipment). Both treatments produced increases in meal consumption for the first participant, and an additional differential reinforcement manipulation (HP Meal + DRA) was necessary to produce increases in eating in the second participant. Interobserver agreement was collected for 37.7% of sessions with 100% agreement.



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