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

Previous Page


Symposium #481
CE Offered: BACB
Improving Efficiency and Safety of the Functional Analysis and Treatment of Problem Behavior
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Grand Ballroom CD North, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Ellie Kazemi (California State University, Northridge)
CE Instructor: Ellie Kazemi, Ph.D.
Abstract: A best-practice approach to the assessment and treatment of problem behavior requires procedures that produce accurate outcomes in a safe and efficient manner. This symposium features three studies on methodological refinements, designed to improve efficiency and client safety during the assessment and treatment process. Marlesha Bell will present a screening procedure used to predict the function of multiple topographies of problem behavior in the context of a single functional analysis (FA). This procedure may be used in place of conducting separate FAs of each distinct topography, thereby improving overall assessment efficiency. Shannon Schebell will compare the use of data obtained during an FA to that of a post-FA baseline in the evaluation of treatment efficacy. Results of this study will inform the design of a baseline that minimizes the delay to treatment onset. Finally, Adam Briggs will present data that replicates research on latency-based functional analyses for the improvement of assessment efficiency and safety. In addition, this study will evaluate an approach to the treatment of escape-maintained behavior without the use of extinction, which may be dangerous or difficult to implement with high integrity for severe problem behavior.
Keyword(s): function-based treatment, functional analysis, methodology, refinement
Functional Analysis Screening for Multiple Topographies of Problem Behavior
MARLESHA BELL (California State University, Northridge/Behavioral Learning Network), Ciobha McKeown (California State University, Northridge), Tara A. Fahmie (California State University, Northridge)
Abstract: Many individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities engage in multiple topographies of problem behavior (e.g., self-injurious behavior, aggression, property destruction, stereotypy), which may be maintained by similar reinforcers (i.e., a single response class) or different reinforcers (i.e., several different response classes). Determining the function of multiple topographies of problem behavior, one at a time, could pose a challenge for clinicians who have limited time to complete their assessment. The purpose of this study was to determine whether collecting data on multiple topographies (non-target behaviors) while only reinforcing a single topography (target behavior) in a standard functional analysis will assist clinicians in efficiently screening the function of multiple topographies of behavior. The authors propose a decision tree for predicating automatic vs. social functions, as well as specific (positive vs. negative) social functions, based on data collected on multiple topographies of problem behavior in a single functional analysis. Preliminary results show that this method of data collection provides accurate predictions and improves overall assessment efficiency.
A Comparison of Sources of Baseline Data for Treatments of Problem Behavior Following a Functional Analysis
SHANNON SCHEBELL (University of Georgia/Marcus Autism Center), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Emory University School of Medicine/Marcus Autism Center/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Joanna Lomas Mevers (Emory University School of Medicine/Marcus Autism Center/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), Nathan Call (Emory University School of Medicine/Marcus Autism Center/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), George H. Noell (Louisiana State University), Kerri C. Suiter (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Best practice in the treatment of problem behavior is to compare the targeted behaviors during treatment to a baseline condition in which treatment is not in place. When studying function-based treatments for problem behavior, some studies use data collected as part of a multielement functional analysis as baseline, whereas others opt to collect new baseline data following completion of the multielement functional analysis. Although using the data from the multielement functional analysis introduces some efficiencies, the fact that sessions were interspersed with those from other conditions could cause these data to differ from those had a new baseline been conducted. This study evaluated whether there are significant differences between baseline data collected using these methods both statistically (using hierarchical linear modeling) and through visual analysis using a panel of raters. Results suggest that for the majority of cases, the baselines are similar and do not result in different treatment decisions. In addition, using data from the multielement functional analysis for treatment comparison can save time and improve efficiency.
Evaluation of a Methodology for the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Problem Behavior
ADAM M. BRIGGS (The University of Kansas), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Amber Lessor (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Functional analysis of severe problem behavior may pose ethical and procedural challenges due to the harm associated with its occurrence (Iwata & McCord, 2003). Therefore, we replicated and extended previous research by using latency and precursor functional analyses with alternative designs (Iwata & Dozier, 2008) to determine the function of severe problem behavior displayed by two individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition, extinction (EXT) may be dangerous or difficult to implement with high integrity for severe problem behavior. Therefore, we manipulated relative reinforcement for problem behavior and appropriate behavior using differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) without extinction (Athens & Vollmer, 2010) for escape-maintained severe problem behavior. Preliminary results indicate we were able to determine the function of severe problem behavior with a potentially safer functional analysis methodology. In addition, delivering longer duration and higher quality reinforcers for an alternative appropriate response (compliance) in the absence of escape extinction resulted in an increase in compliance and a decrease in severe problem behavior that maintained even when the schedule of reinforcement was thinned.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh