WS Hanley 2018. - Part 2
WS Hanley 2018.
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Part 2


Treating Severe Problem Behavior: A Focus on Strengthening Socially Important Behavior and Transferring to Relevant People and Places


Abstract: The success of treatments for problem behaviors like meltdowns, self-injury, or aggression is largely dependent on whether the treatment is based on the function the problem behavior serves for the person with autism. But because of the seemingly obligatory focus on detecting the impact of single variables in good behavior analytic research, effective behavioral technology is often fractured across studies, resulting in a dearth of studies showing socially valid improvements in these problem behaviors and an absence of studies illustrating the treatment process from start to finish. In this session, an effective, comprehensive, and parent-validated treatment process for problem behavior will be described. The comparative research that underscores the importance of focusing on the skills of communication, toleration, and contextually appropriate behavior will be reviewed. The logistics of implementing this treatment in a variety of contexts that differ in personnel will be discussed along with procedures for training parents and staff and extending the treatment into relevant contexts over realistic time periods.



1. Given different functions of problem behavior, the attendee should be able to design functionally-relevant, effective, and skill-based interventions capable of producing generalizable and socially valid improvements in problem behavior.

2. An attendee will be able to describe strategies for teaching individuals with severe problem behavior to engage in a generalized communication response and then procedures for differentiating the response so that a communication repertoire is established.

3. An attendee will be able to describe the key components of strategies for teaching individuals with severe problem behavior to tolerate both delays to and denials of reinforcers previously maintaining their problem behavior.

4. An attendee should be able to describe how contextually appropriate behavior (compliance, independent academic work and play) may be shaped during delays to the reinforcers that historically maintained problem behavior.

5. An attendee should be able to describe the logistics relevant to treatment development, transfer, and maintenance in the contexts in which they provide services.


Relevant Readings:

Hanley, G. P., Jin, C. S., Vanselow, N. R., & Hanratty, L. A. (2014). Producing meaningful improvements in problem behavior of children with autism via synthesized analyses and treatments. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 47, 16-36.

Santiago, J. L., Hanley, G. P., Moore, K., & Jin, C. S. (2016). The generality of interview-informed functional analyses: Systematic replications in school and home. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 797-811.

Ghaemmaghami, M., Hanley, G. P., Jin, S., and Vanselow, N. R. (2015) Affirming control by multiple reinforcers via progressive treatment analysis. Behavioral Interventions. 31, 70-86.

Ghaemmaghami, M., Hanley, G. P., & Jessel, J. (2016). Contingencies promote delay tolerance. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/jaba.333

Strand R. C. W., Eldevik S. (2017). Improvements in problem behavior in a child with autism spectrum diagnosis through synthesized analysis and treatment: A replication in an EIBI home program. Behavioral Interventions, 1–10.