BAAM 2024 Convention Program Listing


Click here for registration


This program is tentative and subject to change.
We will post session times and days shortly.

Please contact BAAM if you find errors or omissions.

Most sessions and workshops will be eligible for BACB CEUs.
We will post specifics as the approvals are made.


Thursday Morning


9:00 - 9:50 am   Ballroom A (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Recent Human Operant Research on Relapse and Negative Reinforcement.


Chair: Forrest Toegel (Northern Michigan University) 

Discussant: Michael Kranak (Oakland University) 


A major undertaking in behavior-analytic research is understanding how results obtained in the laboratory can be applied to affect positive behavior change in clinical practice. Research in the human operant laboratory often serves as a middle-ground between the animal laboratory and clinical practice and offers a controlled environment for testing the generality of behavioral findings. Results that fail to translate between laboratory and clinical settings highlight fertile areas of exploration because they show the limits of our understanding of behavioral phenomena and the procedures that we use to study them. The present symposium arranges two talks about recent efforts by researchers in Michigan to understand human behavior in laboratory settings. The first presentation compares the resurgence of previously suppressed target behavior following differential reinforcement of alternative behavior with and without extinction for the target response. The second presentation evaluates avoidance behavior and the reinforcing effects of timeouts from avoidance schedules as a function of the response effort required to avoid money losses. The symposium will conclude with a discussion of the research area and a question-and-answer period led by Dr. Michael Kranak. The aim of this symposium is to update interested researchers and students about research topics that are currently under investigation at universities in Michigan and discuss topics for future exploration.


An Evaluation of Resurgence Following DRA With and Without Extinction in a Human Operant Model. Skylar DeWitt, Adam Briggs (Eastern Michigan University)


Individuals with autism are more likely to engage in severe problem behavior than their peers. An evidence-based treatment for severe problem behavior involves placing the problem behavior on extinction and differentially reinforcing an alternative response (DRA). However, extinction is not always feasible and may be unsafe or impractical to implement in some circumstances. For this reason, researchers have begun investigating the use of DRA without extinction with this population. At present, it is unclear how DRA with or without extinction may produce durable treatment outcomes, particularly as it pertains to the resurgence of problem behavior. This presentation describes a study that investigated differential resurgence outcomes following DRA with and without extinction using a three-phase resurgence assessment in a translational model. This presentation will describe significant differences in the presence of resurgence between groups, including differences in the magnitude or persistence of resurgence. Implications for future human-operant investigations of resurgence will be discussed.


Effects of Response Effort on Money-Loss Avoidance and the Reinforcing Efficacy of Timeout.  Forrest Toegel, Haillie McDonough, Cory Toegel (Northern Michigan University)


Negative reinforcement is the process by which behavior is strengthened or maintained by avoiding or escaping aversive events. We evaluated avoidance behavior and the reinforcing effects of timeouts from avoidance under conditions in which the response effort required to avoid money losses was manipulated. College students completed a computer game that required them to defend small sums of money from being taken by cartoon ghosts. Sessions were divided into three 30-min periods. At the start of each period, participants were awarded $7. In each period, three ghosts (white, purple, and yellow) appeared as response options and moved around the computer screen. One of the ghosts stole money (5 cents) according to a money-loss Sidman avoidance schedule with a 2-s loss-loss interval and a response-loss interval that varied across sessions. Clicks on the active ghost postponed the next money loss by the duration of the R-L interval. Response effort was manipulated across sessions by changing the R-L interval (2-16 s) and across periods of each session by changing the size of the ghosts (diameter: 150 px, 100 px, or 50 px). In addition, participants could respond to produce 10-s timeouts that suspended the avoidance schedule (i.e., paid breaks). Timeouts were produced by clicking on a star icon located on the right portion of the screen and satisfying a progressive-ratio schedule. Money remaining at the end of each period was banked and was paid out to participants at the end of each session. Results suggest that manipulations to response effort were successful: Avoidance behavior occurred primarily on the active ghost, avoidance was sensitive to changes in the R-L interval programmed across sessions, and behavior (accurate and inaccurate clicks) was allocated to the ghosts as an inverse function of the size of the ghost. The reinforcing efficacy of timeouts from avoidance was not systematically affected by manipulations to response effort as judged by PR breakpoints obtained in the three periods of each session. Possible implications and limitations of the results will be discussed.


9:00 - 9:50 am   Ballroom B (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

The Foundational Five: How Integrating Compassion Can Save Our Science. Ashley Zink, Hillary Laney (Centria Healthcare)


The field of behavior analysis has long focused on modifying behavior through the principles of reinforcement, punishment, and environmental manipulation. While these principles have been invaluable in promoting behavior change, there is an emerging recognition of the importance of compassion and assent in creating sustainable and meaningful outcomes for clients and their families. This presentation aims to explore the application of assent-based care to enhance and support clinical outcomes. This presentation will offer actionable tools practitioners can use to align their practice with an assent-based model. Behavior analysts can establish a foundation of trust, empathy, and responsiveness that serves as a catalyst for positive change. Attendees will leave with a practical roadmap to begin or enhance their own or their organization's integration of these practices.


9:00 - 9:50 am   Auditorium  (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Primary Care: Applications for Patients and Family Medicine Residency Training.   Jennifer D. Kowalkowski, Allisen Nguyen  (Corewell Health)


This presentation explores the integration of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) techniques in the realm of primary care and Family Medicine residency education. The burgeoning recognition of the psychosocial aspects of healthcare necessitates a paradigm shift in medical training and patient care. Within the primary care setting, ACT is employed to enhance patient outcomes by fostering psychological flexibility. The session delves into practical applications, demonstrating how ACT techniques can be woven into routine primary care encounters. By cultivating mindfulness, patients are empowered to accept difficult thoughts and feelings, promoting adaptive responses to health challenges. The session highlights the impact on chronic disease management, mental health, and overall well-being. In the context of Family Medicine residency education, the session addresses the imperative to equip future physicians with comprehensive skills. ACT is presented as a valuable tool for residents to navigate the complex dynamics of patient care, emphasizing compassionate communication and patient-centered approaches. The integration of ACT in residency education not only enhances residents' personal well- being but also cultivates a more empathetic and resilient healthcare workforce. Participants will hear firsthand from a second-year resident physician in a Family Medicine training program who has utilize these techniques. Attendees will engage in interactive exercises in case-based learning exercises, gaining practical insights into implementing ACT techniques. The session aims to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application, providing attendees with tangible strategies to enhance patient care.


10:00 - 10:50 am   Ballroom A) (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Coordination of Care to Stabilize Complex Cases. Jerry Idicula, Kelly Bartok, Olanrewaju Shotunde (Centria Healthcare)


Supporting consumers with complex medical and behavioral health needs requires a high level of collaboration across service providers and a comprehensive treatment approach. Coordination of care becomes increasingly important as case complexity increases. Individuals who are in foster care, have comorbid mental health diagnoses, a history of trauma, require psychiatric support, or engage in dangerous behaviors are circumstances that add degrees of complexity. The authors will highlight a case study for a recipient of services with a high level of needs in a medical setting. The first part of the presentation will go into detail about the communication and collaboration between the various team members. This includes resources, materials, settings and authorizations that needed to be in place before services could begin. The next part of the presentation will highlight the functional analysis of interfering behaviors and components of the treatment package. The final part of the presentation will highlight the implementation of this treatment package across the inpatient, clinic, and home settings.


10:00 - 10:50 am   Ballroom B (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Overcoming Treatment Barriers to Family Support Services: What Can We Learn from Third-Wave Behavior Therapies to Create More Effective Clinicians? Jason Rockwell (Center for Forensic Psychiatry)


Traditional behavior analytic training has a strong focus on the acquisition of foundational knowledge and the ability to implement protocol-driven change procedures. While this approach can create technically proficient clinicians, it can often result in practitioners who struggle to adapt on-the-fly to unpredictable situations deviating from their established training, requiring providers to "make it up as they go along." This effect can often be seen in parent training services, wherein caregivers sometimes complain about BCBA use of overly technical language and/or making recommendations that are implausible for them to implement due to competing responsibilities or limited resources. Third-wave behavior therapies such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) incorporate a focus on distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness that could provide clinicians with additional skills to better support families who face such challenges, while also increasing their ability to adjust to difficult or unforeseen situations in their clinical practice. This presentation will highlight specific skills from these third-wave therapies, discussing how they can be understood in behavior analytic terms and translated into practice to help promote generalization and provide more effective support to caregivers.


10:00 - 10:50 am   310 A

Frequency Building to Enhance Math Fluency: Application, Implications, and Future Directions. Ky'Aria Moses, Jessica Van Stratton (Western Michigan University)


About thirty-six percent of fourth grade students across the USA perform at or above proficient levels on national math assessments (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2022). Students performing below proficient levels often require additional practice with foundational math concepts to achieve and maintain a level of fluency (Berrett & Carter, 2018). Fluency refers to the accuracy and pace at which they can perform a task and is a key characteristic of a competent performer. Frequency building is empirically researched and validated as an efficient and effective strategy to build fluent performers in math and other areas such as reading, writing, and social skills (McTiernan et al., 2015; Johnson et al., 2021; Stocker Jr et al., 2020). With a fluent repertoire, students can better maintain skills over time, perform skills for an extended duration, and solve problems amid distractions. This session will discuss the implementation of frequency-based practice and class wide student progress. It will also describe how frequency building was used to maximize student inclusivity in general education settings for elementary aged students who were two or more grade levels behind, in a rural, low-income, elementary school.


10:30 - 11:50 am   Auditorium (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Targeted Implementation of ACT Techniques and Processes: Learned Helplessness, Worry, Substance Abuse, and Depression


Chair: Megan Campbell (Western Michigan University)


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach that is composed of a conglomerate of therapeutic techniques. This symposium consists of an in-depth examination of the core concepts of ACT through the lens of four different projects. The goal of this symposium is to demonstrate the various ways in which ACT constructs can be applied when working with different populations and presenting concerns. The first presenters (Morgan Palmer, B.A. and Marcus Cunha) will be discussing cognitive defusion with a focus on mitigating the effects of lab-induced learned helplessness. Our second presenter, Callum Smith, M.A. will share his research findings conducting a one- session ACT protocol targeting chronic worry using an extended defusion exercise. Third, Madison Dirickson, M.S., BCBA will delve into her research utilizing brief functional analysis methodology and applying function driven ACT interventions when working with individuals with a substance use disorder. Lastly, Gabrielle Mesches, M.S. will focus on the efficacy of ACT components, specifically cognitive defusion and values-based activity scheduling, compared to supportive therapy when treating college students with depression and internal distress. Furthermore, her discussion will explore mediating roles of each component on clinical levels of depression symptoms. The diverse use of the ACT matrix and its underlying constructs demonstrated throughout this symposium emphasize the vast clinical utility of this behavioral model.


Influences of Cognitive Defusion on Learned Helplessness. Morgan Palmer, Marcus, Cunha, Taylor Phillips, Aqdas Khan, Scott Gaynor (Western Michigan University) 


INTRO: Psychological flexibility involves the ability to pursue goal-directed action with a posture of openness and awareness toward accompanying (often aversive) private events (e.g., sensations, thoughts, feelings, memories). Cognitive fusion -- the experience of being "in one's head," caught up in, entangled with, or struggling with negative thoughts - impedes psychological flexibility. Cognitive defusion strategies are designed to reduce fusion; that is, to decrease the believability of, attachment to, and impact of negative thoughts contributing to psychological inflexibility. This study aims to investigate whether being taught cognitive defusion exercises influence behavior during two challenging problem-solving tasks (a Learned Helplessness [LH] task and a very difficult Compound Remote Associates [CRA] task) and negative thoughts and feelings immediately following the tasks.

METHOD: This study will use a between-group repeated measures design. Consenting participants, recruited from Western Michigan University, will complete baseline measures, be taught several cognitive defusion techniques (using a scripted procedure that follows from Hooper and McHugh [2013]), and then complete the LH and CRA tasks. Following each task, participants' current (i.e., state) cognitive fusion and affect will be assessed. Data from study participants will be examined against a comparison group from a separate study where participants completed the same procedure but without training in the cognitive defusion exercises.

RESULTS: Analyses will examine whether receiving training in cognitive defusion is associated with differences in task persistence and the specific predictions that cognitive defusion training will reduce state cognitive fusion and negative affect following the tasks.

DISCUSSION: The results have potentially interesting implications for the psychological flexibility model, in general, and the question of whether cognitive defusion strategies may promote resilience in the face of potential failure experiences, specifically.


Therapy Protocol Targeting Chronic Worry Using an Extended Defusion Exercise Callum Smith, Scott Gaynor (Western Michigan University)


Chronic worry is a repetitive negative thought (RNT) process associated with poor mental health outcomes. Brief treatments utilizing an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) paradigm have been developed to target RNT in a Columbian population. The current, ongoing study is the first independent replication for an RNT-focused ACT protocol with a predominantly English-speaking population. An AB replication series is utilized to determine the efficacy of a one-session RNT-focused ACT protocol for chronic worry. College students are screened for elevated worry on the Penn State Worry Questionniare-16 at two time points, one week apart. Those with elevated scores and who are not currently in therapy are recruited into the study. Weekly self-report measures of worry, RNT, psychological inflexibility, cognitive fusion, values progression, and depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms are collected in a six-week baseline period. Participants with worry scores consistently higher than a half standard deviation above the collegiate mean and a worsening of worry measured just prior to the intervention are included in primary analyses. All other participants are included in exploratory analyses. All participants completing baseline are administered the one-session RNT-focused ACT protocol. The intervention is intended to teach skill repertoires that facilitate increased engagement in values-directed behaviors with decreased interference from anxiety and worry. All participants completing the treatment are administered weekly follow-up questionnaires for four weeks. Visual analyses and TAU-U analyses are used to assess the data. In primary analyses, significant effects are observed for worry, RNT, and multiple ACT processes. Data collection is still ongoing, but the initial results appear promising. Results supporting the efficacy of the protocol would suggest a need for future research with other variations of the RNT-focused ACT protocols with English-speaking populations and evaluation with more rigorous comparison control conditions.


Toward a Functional Analysis of Complex Verbal Behavior with Individuals with Substance Use Disorder. Madison Dirickson (Western Michigan University)


Functional analysis has been the hallmark of behavior analysis since its development by Iwata et al. (1994). However, there is limited research on the functional analysis of verbal behavior. As the field begins to incorporate acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) into practice, a methodology for function driven treatment is becoming increasingly necessary. This study evaluates the utility of an ACT functional analysis and function-based intervention with people with self-identified substance use disorder who attend a 12-Step program of recovery. Interventions in this study were intended to increase adherence to twelve-step program requirements including completing step work, calling one's sponsor, praying, and fellowshipping with other members of the program. Two participants completed the ACT functional analysis, and their results indicate that the methods outlined in this study were able to effectively pinpoint the function of their complex verbal behavior. One participant elected to undergo subsequent function driven ACT-based intervention which was effective in increasing her step work completion. This research is one of the first to identify a means to support people with substance use disorder in twelve-step programs. Future research will need to assess the feasibility of training clinicians on ACT functional analysis methodology and identify prerequisites to developing function-informed ACT interventions.


A Randomized Technique and Process Evaluation of Cognitive Defusion and Values-Based Activation for the Treatment of Depression. Gabrielle Mesches,  Marchion Hinton,  Scott Gaynor  (Western Michigan University)


Depression among college students is a growing concern in the United States. This study examined the efficacy of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an evidence-based treatment for depression comprising six core components, specifically focusing on two active ingredients of the treatment package: cognitive defusion (CD) and values-based activity scheduling (VBAS). The study compared the effects of three CD sessions and three VBAS sessions (CD + VBAS) to a supportive therapy (ST) group on depression and internal distress. Data analysis involved group comparisons and the exploration of mediating roles of CD, VBAS, and their combined influence on treatment outcomes. Results indicated that the ACT group was more effective in reducing depression and internal distress compared to the ST group, with depression symptom severity serving as a moderating factor. Secondary analyses revealed that CD and VBAS played active mediating roles in treatment outcomes. The Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire - Believability scale (ATQ-b) showed significant time*treatment interactions throughout treatment (F = 4.23, p = .021), and the Valued Living Questionnaire (VLQ) targeted values demonstrated significant changes in values-based action after the completion of the three VBAS sessions (F = 3.94, p = .026). Overall, the study suggests that a reduced ACT protocol incorporating these two active ingredients benefits participants experiencing clinical depression symptoms.


11:00 - 11:50 am   Ballroom A (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Equipping Behavior Analysts with Strategies to Mitigate Burnout. Michael Kranak (Oakland University, Oakland University Center for Autism)


Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are experiencing an all-time high demand for their services. They are also experiencing an all-time high (and alarming) rate of burnout and turnover. The presenter will discuss feasible strategies BCBAs can use to mitigate, prevent, and reduce feelings of burnout.


11:00 - 11:50 am   Ballroom B (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Addressing Barriers to Caregiver Treatment Adherence and Access to Services for Individuals Diagnosed with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and their Families in Michigan.


Chair: Adam Briggs (Eastern Michigan University ).


Michigan-based caretakers of children diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disabilities (e.g., autism spectrum disorder) are often faced with major challenges related to delays in receiving services (e.g., ABA) and following through on treatment recommendations. The first presentation in this symposium will examine the specific barriers faced by families of individuals with autism in pursuing ABA services, shedding light on the extent of delays experienced in the process. Additionally, it will explore strategies to provide effective support to families during this critical period. Findings from this study reveal that approximately 73% of caregivers' children (n = 78) were placed on waitlists for ABA services, with durations ranging from one month to over one year. The second presentation in this symposium will explore the validity of a questionnaire that may be helpful in identifying variable(s) that may influence caregiver treatment adherence (i.e., Performance Diagnostic Checklist-Parent) and inform interventions for specifically addressing these barriers to adherence. The preliminary results indicated that a standard training protocol provided sufficient support for most caregivers and the indicated intervention resulted in improved caregiver performance for one participant. Together, these presentations will highlight the multifaceted challenges caregivers experience and review recommendations and strategies for improving access and addressing barriers related to caregiver non-adherence.


Prevalence of Children With Autism Who Experience Delays to Behavioral Therapy in Michigan: A Summary of Survey Data Describing Caregiver Needs During This Time. Silvia Verhofste, Andrea Stephens, Adam M Briggs, Brittany Loder, Jaimie Barr, Alyssa Miller (Eastern Michigan University)


Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently encounter waitlist-related delays in accessing applied behavior analysis (ABA) services. The present study, conducted by distributing a survey to caregivers across the state of Michigan, aimed to examine the prevalence of delays to ABA services and identify barriers faced by caregivers of individuals with ASD when pursuing ABA services in Michigan. Findings from this study revealed that approximately 73% of caregivers' children (n = 78) were placed on waitlists for ABA services, with durations ranging from one month to over one year. Furthermore, the majority of caregivers indicated they were concerned about their children's behavior while awaiting services and expressed interest in receiving training during this time to effectively address behavioral concerns and facilitate the teaching of new skills to their children. Recommendations for addressing child and caregivers' needs during the waiting period are reviewed and directions for future research and practice are discussed.


Initial Evaluation of the Reliability and Validity of an Assessment-Based Approach to Identifying and Addressing Barriers to Caregiver Treatment Adherence. Omar Elwasli, Eleah Sunde, Adam M. Briggs, James T. Todd (Eastern Michigan University)


 Although technology exists to effectively train caregivers to implement behavioral interventions, little is known about the barriers impacting caregiver treatment adherence. The purpose of the current study was to understand the conditions under which caregivers are likely to adhere to interventions, identify the variables leading to non-adherence, and evaluate the effects of an intervention to support caregiver adherence. We evaluated the effectiveness of a standard treatment protocol at improving a caregiver's behavior- management implementation (Study 1) and assessed the validity of the Performance Diagnostic Checklist-Parent (PDC-P) by comparing the effects of an PDC-P indicated intervention to a non-indicated intervention (Study 2). In Study 1, results indicated that a standard training protocol provided sufficient support for most caregivers across all phases. In Study 2, the indicated intervention resulted in improved caregiver performance and provided preliminary evidence for the PDC-P's ability to rule out ineffective interventions and rule in effective ones. We will discuss clinical implications and directions for future research.


11:00 - 11:20 am   310 A (0.5 BACB Type-II CEU)

Investing in Success: Employer-Sponsored BCBA Exam Preparation Strategies. Lauren Bauer (Gateway Pediatric Therapy)


This presentation introduces an initiative aimed at supporting Qualified Behavior Health Professionals (QBHPs) in their journey toward BCBA certification within an ABA therapy company. The increasing demand for certified professionals coupled with low overall national exam pass rates underscore the significance of employers implementing proactive study support systems. Our 10-week, 20-hour exam preparation program provides a structured approach to exam preparation provided to QBHPs as a benefit of their employment. This presentation will address the relevance of employer-sponsored exam preparation programs, considering the limitations faced by non-certified practitioners and the financial implications of exam failure for QBHPs and their employers. By offering insights into our group's structure, incorporating lecture-based teaching, group discussions, interteaching strategies, and mock exam practice, we propose a model for improving exam pass rates among employees. The presentation will review findings indicating a positive correlation between weeks of group attendance and exam pass rates. This session aims to inspire other ABA organizations to consider implementing exam preparation groups, thereby enhancing employee satisfaction, contributing to the professional development of staff, and ultimately addressing the urgent need for certified BCBAs in the field.


11:30 - 11:50 am   310 A

Achieving Vocational Component Fluency Using Frequency Building. Kyle A. Visitacion, Jessica E. Van Stratton (Western Michigan University)


The current employment rates for individuals with disabilities are considerably lower than the rates of those without disabilities (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). Precision teaching is an effective approach for skill building in academic settings, but there is less focus on its utility in vocational settings (Gist & Bulla, 2022; Ramey et al., 2016). This study used frequency building to improve fluency with component skills required for composite performances required at participants' job sites. Two young adults with disabilities who held volunteer or paid positions in their communities were recruited from an intermediate school district transition center in southwest Michigan. Participants practiced component skills with frequency building at a simulated training site that included similar materials to those required at their respective job sites. Once established frequency aims were met, component performances were evaluated for endurance, stability, and retention. The study's findings suggest frequency building can be used to promote fluency with vocational component skills. Limitations and future applications will be discussed including the implications of instruction on composite skills to enhance composite skill performance at job sites.


11:00 - 11:50 am  352 (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Practicum Programs in the Field of ABA - A Panel Discussion (50 minutes)    


Chair: Taylor B. Ross (Blossom Children's Center)
Panelists: Kosai Zaya, Jennifer Menko, Andie McNally, Kirsten Yaksich, Holly Hermans (Blossom Children's Center)


As an ABA professional, do you feel like your practicum experience prepared you to provide the best level of care for the families that you served? Or did you have a practicum experience that left you wanting and needing more? Practicum programs play a pivotal, but often neglected role in shaping comprehensive Board Certified Behavior Analysts. This discussion amongst panelists and participants aims to spotlight the practicum programs critical importance across practicum sites and what barriers ABA agencies face to cultivate them. As ABA agency owners, leadership, supervisors, and students: Ask yourself; What is the typical structure of practicum programs across agencies? BCBAs: how would you describe your fieldwork experience? What do you wish you would have had exposure to, and/or what did you find helpful or crucial? Are the supervisors at your sites prepared to provide a comprehensive practicum experience, beyond the 8-hour supervisor training? Students: what do you wish you were learning in your program? Do you feel as though you will leave your program as a competent, prepared BCBA who can provide quality, and empathic supervision and support to our field, the client's and their families that we serve? The disconnect between fieldwork sites and coursework is very wide. This discussion will focus on and provide a platform for agencies to come together and create cohesive practicum programs across workplaces to ensure aspiring clinicians are receiving a practicum experience that genuinely prepares them to make a difference. We can do better - together.


Thursday Lunch (on your own) & Meetings
Noon - 1:30pm


Thursday Keynote Address
1:30 - 2:30 pm

Ballrooms A & B


Ableism-What's That Have to Do with Me? Gordon Bourland (Trinity Behavioral Associates, Arlington, TX) (1 BACB Type-II CEU)


After growing up in the south of the United States, I recognized upon entering adulthood that I engaged in differential overt and covert behavior- bias- regarding people different from me. The differential behavior reflected how different they were from me and most of the people with whom I interacted. Such differential behavior that I recognized early included racism, sexism, and classism. Subsequently, acceptance and positive valuation of everyone became fundamental guides for my behavior. During over 50 years of identifying as a behavior analyst, the principles of behavior analysis provided a rigorous framework for interacting with people. During those 50-plus years, many changes occurred in my behavior, the scope and sophistication of behavior analysis, and in society in the United States. Sometimes those changes were obvious and recognition of them was unavoidable. At other times, they were noticed after comments by others or after times of personal reflection. Over time, new perspectives on interacting with people have emerged, including notions of implicit bias as well as explicit bias (e.g., racism, sexism). A type of bias emerging more recently was ableism. (Simply put, ableism involves discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities.) What did that possibly have to do with a civil liberties-embracing, equality and equity-advocating, social justice-pursuing behavior analyst such as me? The relevance of the emerging awareness of ableism to my personal life and my professional work will be addressed. The development, maintenance, modification, and prevention of bias such as ableism will be discussed from a behavior analytic perspective. Suggestions will be offered regarding evaluating allegations of ableism, especially within behavior analysis.


Thursday Afternoon


2:30 - 3:20 pm   Ballrooms A & B (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Toxic Leadership in Behavioral Terms: The Reliance on Coercion and Countercountrol. Sonia M. Goltz (Michigan Technological University)


Current descriptions of toxic leadership tend to define it mostly based on its negative effects on employees and organizations rather than on the behaviors exhibited. Furthermore, when behaviors are described, there is no clear underlying model that serves to tie the behaviors together. Analyzing toxic leadership from a behavioral standpoint, in contrast, can provide a more coherent picture of the situation. In this presentation, toxic leadership is examined by dividing the behavior of toxic leaders into two types:

1) how they elicit desired behaviors from subordinates, in other words, the reinforcement contingencies they tend to favor when managing.
2) how they elicit desired behaviors from superiors, particularly in terms of their own consequences.

First, it is suggested that toxic leaders rely heavily on various forms of coercion to obtain desired behaviors from their followers. Previous behavioral definitions of coercion are used to examine the various forms this can take, including pressure, constraint, false paternalism, and malign neglect. Second, it is suggested that toxic leaders often use countercontrol techniques to avoid negative consequences for their problematic behaviors. However, they also frequently act to gain positive consequences, even for behaviors that they did not exhibit, such as by taking credit for others' ideas or accomplishments (termed "falsified performance" for the sake of the present discussion). It is suggested that the proposed framework can be useful not only for providing a more parsimonious explanation of toxic leadership in organizations but also for examining behaviors in other settings that have been labeled toxic but have not been well-explicated.


2:30 - 3:20 pm Auditorium (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Clinical Applications of Behavioral Gerontology for Older Adults with Neurocognitive Disorders


Chair: Jonathan Baker (Western Michigan University)


The growing aging population in the United States is accompanied by an increase in both number of older adults with neurocognitive disorder and the number of people experiencing behaviors changes associated with neurocognitive disorder (NCD). Behavioral Gerontology is the "application of behavior analysis and therapy to older adults, ranging from basic behavioral research to clinical applications to organizational issues in service delivery (Adkins & Mathews, 1999; Burgio & Burgio, 1986)" (LeBlanc et al., 2011, p. 472). This symposium will focus on the practice of behavioral gerontology with older adults with NCD as well as discuss models for behavioral consultation and for informed consent/assent. The importance and future directions for clinical applications with adults with NCD, as well as needs for future research, will be discussed.


Behavioral Consultation in Nursing Homes: A Model Adaptation and Considerations. Sandra Wagner, Andrea Perez, Jonathan Baker (Western Michigan University)


Up to 80% of older adults with neurocognitive disorder engage in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD; e.g., verbal or physical aggression, wandering) in nursing home facilities (Toot et al., 2017). In nursing home facilities, health professionals often use a medical model to provide behavioral support. The medical model, however, does not consider the environmental factors that may be evoking and maintaining behaviors; it is also likely that pharmacological interventions are often prescribed to manage the behaviors (Baker et al., 2015). Given the adverse effects of pharmacological interventions, researchers have advocated for behavioral and function-based interventions for the management and treatment of BPSD (Dyer et al., 2017). Unfortunately, the behavioral approach to treatment is not widely adopted in nursing home settings. Thus, behavioral gerontologists are faced with having to provide behavioral consultation in a medical model setting. The purpose of the current study is twofold: 1) to provide a framework for providing behavioral consultation in these settings and 2) to provide examples and data related to the different decision points in the model.


Respecting Dissent and Seeking Assent in Behavioral Gerontology: The Application of a Decision-Making Model. Amy Shaw,  Jonathan Baker. (Western Michigan University)


Behavioral gerontologists may work with individuals with neurocognitive disorder (NCD) who may or may not be able to provide informed consent. As such, capacity assessments may be relevant. When participants in research or clients receiving treatment do not have the capacity for informed consent, proxy decision makers provide consent and assent must be also be sought. Recent articles highlighted the need for behavior analysts to seek assent for research (Morris et al., 2021) and explored researchers' comfort and current practices (Jasperse et al., 2023). While assent is recognized as affirmative agreement, participants and clients may also express dissent. Of informed consent, assent, and dissent, dissent is the least discussed and reported on measure. This talk explores current issues in the field of behavioral gerontology through the framework of a decision-making model that was originally published by Black et al. (2010) in the field of geriatric psychiatry. The model assesses for both dissent and assent separately. The authors use of this decision-making model while conducting research on manding will be discussed. Participants in the study were older adults with NCD living in a memory care unit. Data will encompass assent and dissent to sessions, session completion, and session termination.


The Imperative for Function-Based, Individualized Dementia Caregiver Training. Ali Doran, Amy Shaw, Jonathan Baker. (Western Michigan University)


Currently, there are about seven million adults aged 65 and older with neurocognitive disorder (NCD) in the U.S. (CDC, 2023) and 97% of these adults are affected by behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) (Cloak & Khalili, 2022). Additionally, there is estimated to be nearly 16 million unpaid caregivers providing support to these individuals with dementia (CDC, 2023). Current literature supports that the emergence of BPSD is tied to adverse medication effects, biological changes (e.g., changes in vision or hearing), and environmental design. While medical support is needed to address medication use or biological changes, one area that behavioral gerontologists can support is in environmental design. This presentation discusses the need for personalized and person-centered strategies for caregivers of individuals with dementia. Focusing on the individual needs of both the caregiver and the person with dementia, this discussion emphasizes the limitations of generalized approaches and advocates for more tailored interventions. This presentation will review a tailored caregiver support approach, which trialed and implemented function-based interventions for BPSD, through a multi-step caregiver training. Ultimately, this presentation aims to encourage individualized, person-centered caregiver trainings to optimize care outcomes for both the caregiver and the person living with dementia.


2:30 - 3:20 pm   310A (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Using a Stakeholder Engagement Process to Assess Needs in Care Coordination.  Krista Clancy, Adrienne Bradley (Wayne State University)


The Innovations in Care Coordination project was developed to assess the critical gaps in knowledge, identify high priority topics, and build relationships leading to future Comparative Effectiveness Research. The research team brought together stakeholders from various roles including minority, community and advocacy leaders and partners who identify as autistic individuals and those with children with autism or other developmental disabilities from around the country. The stakeholder group engaged in relationship building activities, educational workshops on Comparative Effectiveness Research, and understanding the funding application process for future research. The outcome of the stakeholder engagement activities produced a literature review on the barriers to care coordination and access to care for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds. Further activities of the stakeholder group resulted in identification of important research topics based on the literature review and lived experiences of the stakeholders in the groups. Two small groups of stakeholders emerged with specific research ideas. The presentation will review the stakeholder engagement process for both the large and small groups, review the barriers identified in the literature and highlight one of the small group topics and the experiences of the group leader in encouraging engagement and the development of the future research ideas on the topic. The presentation will conclude with experiences of the behavior analysts who led the large and small groups and the lessons learned for successful engagement of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds.


2:30 - 3:20 pm   352 (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Systems for Quality Fieldwork Supervision at Large Service Agencies. Elizabeth P. Elias (Key Autism Services)


Ensuring the delivery of high-quality behavior analytic services is contingent upon the effective supervision of aspiring behavior analysts within large service agencies. In 2020, the field of behavior analysis saw a dramatic increase in private equity deals, with a record high of 42 deals that year. With the top 9 agencies holding 23% of the market, the field has seen an increase in services being provided by large corporations rather than with independently owned companies. The increase in services provided by large agencies has created opportunities for fieldwork students to access benefits like paid unrestricted hours and fieldwork apprenticeships that were previously unavailable. While access to these opportunities has created benefits for students, large service agencies often struggle with providing equitable, individualized, training programs across all locations for their fieldwork students. This discussion will focus on the creation and implementation of comprehensive systems that facilitate fieldwork supervision in the context of large service agencies. We will explore the principles, strategies, and tools essential for cultivating a culture of support, guidance, and excellence within the supervisory relationship. By delving into empirical research, best practices, and real-world experiences, we aim to provide attendees with actionable insights into implementing supervised fieldwork frameworks tailored to the unique challenges and dynamics of large-scale service agencies.



Friday Morning


9:00 - 10:20 am   Ballroom A

Incorporating Autistic Perspectives to Maximize Benefits and Minimize Harms of ABA Services: An Interactive Discussion.  (80 minutes; 1.5 BACB Type-II CEUs)   


Chair: Hannah Beavis (University of Minnesota)
Panelists: Bradley McMahon, Rebecca Kolb, Jennifer J. McComas, Regan Baney, Joy F. Johnson (University of Minnesota)


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-based instruction and support are common services for autistic children yet concerns about ABA practices have been raised by Autistic individuals and other interested parties. Panelists will include BCBAs, neurodiverse individuals, and other interested parties. Panelists will briefly outline concerns and discuss community-informed approaches to ethically address them. The majority of the time will be spent in small-group discussion to share perspectives on concerns and community- informed approaches to maximize benefits and minimize harm of ABA-based services. Up to four panelists representing the Neurodiverse community and applied behavior analysts will each present their perspective for two minutes, followed by interactive audience discussion focused on the following questions:

-What is your connection to/experience with ABA and what brought you to this presentation?
-How has your understanding of/experience with ABA informed your current perspective/work?
-What does 'community-informed' mean to you as it relates to ABA services?
-What variables should be considered to design and deliver high-quality individualized community-informed ABA services?

ABA-practitioners must reflect on the long-term effects of their approach, recognize the harm that can result, and center the 'voices' of their clients, including their non-speaking clients. The panel aims to bring a variety of viewpoints on the topic together to have a productive discussion.


9:00 - 10:20 am Ballroom B (1.5 BACB Type-II CEU)

Foundations of Care: An Organizational Approach to Ensuring Compassionate Service Delivery


Chair: Edward Sanabria/Adrienne Bradle (Centria Autism)
Discussant: Edward Sanabria/Adrienne Bradle (Centria Autism)


The field of Applied Behavior Analysis is facing tumultuous discussion regarding ethics, quality, and organizational status (Silbaugh & El Fattal, 2021). Clinical quality at large ABA agencies requires alignment unilaterally from the executive team through the individual provider to be effective. Identifying and adopting a model that aligns with evidence based practice, safety, compassion, dignity and respect may provide a guiding compass for organizations looking to improve the quality of their services and achieve meaningful outcomes. This symposium includes three presentations that will outline how a nationwide organization has integrated the values of the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skill Based Treatment (SBT) to develop a framework called Foundations to Care, that starts with a universal, entry level behavior plan and proceeds to more intensive treatment to address more intensive interfering behavior. The first presentation provides an outline of the major components of the entry level behavior intervention plan, the Foundational Plan, and data from its adoption across initial training and implementation efforts. The second presentation will describe the adoption of the PFA as a functional analysis to inform treatment through the SBT process and highlight organization-wide data supporting their effective and efficient use. The third presentation will provide an overview of the mentorship model used to train clinicians in all components of Foundations of Care and its effect on clinical practice. Additionally, comments on large- scale adoption of evidence-based, values driven care which leads to socially valid changes in the lives of clients and their families will be shared.


The Foundational Plan: A Universal Approach to Support Compassionate Therapy. Batoul Dekmak (Centria Autism)


The Foundational Plan (FP) is part of a tier one Response-to-Intervention (RTI model) aimed at improving treatment implementation and reducing barriers to learning skills (Hughes & Dexter, 2011). The Foundational Plan identifies optimal teaching opportunities by first identifying what Happy-Relaxed-Engaged (HRE) looks like for the client and then establishes best practices for introducing learning opportunities, creating an enriched environment, reducing aversive stimuli, setting boundaries, and creating therapeutic alliance (Gover et al., 2022). In line with values of client-centered care, there are specific instructions related to necessary routines and how to respond to interfering behaviors in a way that focuses on prevention and de-escalation (Holburn, 1997). The FP has been a successful standalone intervention for some clients with significant drops in high intensity and dangerous behaviors; data highlighting the impact of this tier one intervention on a large scale will be presented.


The Utility of the Practical Functional Assessment and Skill Based Treatment at Scale Across an Organization Jerry Idicula (Centria Autism)


The Practical Functional Assessment is a functional analysis methodology that identifies strong control of interfering behavior utilizing ecologically relevant and synthesized reinforcement contingencies (Jessel et al., 2016). Given its effectiveness as a component of a functional assessment model, the PFA may provide clinicians with a practical and replicable approach that can inform treatment (Hanley et al., 2014). More importantly, the evidence of efficacious outcomes suggests that the PFA has strong utility in the treatment of interfering behaviors, specifically SBT (Rajaraman et al., 2022). Throughout the progression of SBT, core skills of communication, toleration, and cooperation are targeted through contingency based reinforcement thinning with safety as its top priority (Jessel et al., 2018). This presentation will highlight organization wide data describing the use of the PFA, its safety, efficiency, outcomes, and practical application will be discussed. Data surrounding the impact of SBT on overall client progress towards skill mastery and reduction of interfering behavior along with social validity from clinicians, caregivers, and staff will also be presented.


Utilizing a Mentorship Model to Achieve Meaningful Outcomes using the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skill Based Treatment (SBT). Ashley Nusbaum (Centria Autism)


Utilizing the PFA and SBT process for assessment and treatment of interfering behaviors has resulted in safe and practically informed function-based treatments, substantial reduction in levels of interfering behaviors, and the acquisition of socially significant skill repertoires (Hanley et al., 2014; Jessel et al., 2018). Often, the training of these procedures is isolated in agencies to those with direct, ongoing access to a trainer and relevant resources, or those who have invested resources into independently learning the process. In order to shift a large organization spanning multiple states towards new practices, methods must be developed to support efficient and effective scaling of these practices while ensuring fidelity and socially valid outcomes from a distance. While efforts have been made to investigate various training modalities on these processes (Pollack et al., 2021; Whalen et al., 2021), the effects of incorporating multiple modes of remote training and consultation have not been investigated. The presenter will provide an overview of a remote mentorship model consisting of synchronous and asynchronous training, individual and group consultation to train clinicians in the implementation of the PFA and SBT processes. The effects and social validity data of this model will also be presented.


9:00 - 10:20 am   Auditorium (1.5 BACB Type-II CEU)

Advancements in Applied Research on Preference, Response Variation, and Behavioral Artistry.


Chair: Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University) 
Discussant:  Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University)


The purpose of this symposium is to describe recent advancements in applied research on children with and without developmental disabilities. First, we describe research that evaluates the extent to which edible stimuli may offset the value of edible stimuli in a preference assessment. Next, we describe two studies on response variation: one focused on block play and the other focusing on selection-based responding of children who communicate with picture icons. We conclude with a study that evaluates perceptive sensitivity, a component of behavioral artistry or the "soft skills" that make a person an effective behavior analyst.


Evaluating Preference Displacement with Social and Edible Stimuli.   Natalie R. Lasinski, Kevin P. Klatt (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)


Edible and leisure items are often used in behavioral intervention to teach skills or reduce problem behavior. Social interactions, however, have also been shown to function as reinforcers for both typically developing children and children diagnosed with autism. Previous research has been conducted investigating preference displacement between edible and leisure items. The current study included edible stimuli and social interactions to evaluate whether patterns of displacement would appear with typically developing children. Multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessments were conducted to identify highly preferred stimuli from both edible item and social interaction classes to use in combined assessments to evaluate displacement. Three of six participants showed complete displacement of social interactions by edible items and three participants showed patterns of partial displacement. Two of the participants demonstrating patterns of partial displacement showed a disproportionate preference for social interactions.


Increasing Play Variability in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Madison Koresh, Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University)


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often engage in restrictive or repetitive behaviors, including engaging in repetitive forms of play. Play skills are imperative to children's cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being, and help foster connections with peers. Interventions targeting variability of play are critical for children with ASD to increase problem solving, creativity, and encourage relationships between peers. The current study seeks to examine the effects of a lag 1 schedule on block variability. Furthermore, we hope to extend previous research to explore the relationship between an increasing lag schedule and block variability.


The Effects of a Lag Schedule on Mand Variability on Children with Autism Who Use a Selection-Based Communication System. Linda E. Webster, Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University)


Most research on response variation in children with autism has been conducted in a play or vocal manding context that focus on topographical properties of the response. However, little is known about the effects of a lag schedule of reinforcement on the variation of selection-based responses. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of a lag schedule of reinforcement on the variation of mand frames that occur through selection-based responding. Implications, limitations, and future directions will be discussed.


Behavioral Artistry and Applied Behavior Analysis: Assessing the Effects of a Staff Training Package on 'Perceptive Sensitivity' Levels in Behavior Analytic Treatment. Rebecca Saur-Burns, Joshua Plavnick (Michigan State University)


Currently, resources surrounding the effects of behavioral artistry within the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are very limited. The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which a staff training package was able to increase demonstrations of 'perceptive sensitivity', a domain of behavioral artistry, among behavior technicians (BT). Furthermore, this study assessed the accuracy of participant observations when identifying behaviors related to client disengagement. This study examined levels of 'perceptive sensitivity' using a concurrent multiple probe across participants design, in which participant latency to identification of client disengagement behaviors were examined. Results showed that all participants improved demonstrations of 'perceptive sensitivity' as well as accuracy of identifying client disengagement behaviors.


10:30 - 11:20 am   Auditorium (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Stop Restraint and Seclusion in Michigan: Ethical Issues and Real Harms to Michigan's Children.Matthew T. Brodhead (Michigan State University)


The use of restraint and seclusion in public education settings in the United States dates to at least the 1960s.However, its use likely dates back at least 200 years. As advocacy and policy changes in the 1970s rightfully inspired the deinstitutionalization and integration of students who historically attended state-run psychiatric hospitals into public education, tactics historically used in those psychiatric settings unfortunately followed them into the schools. Despite the longstanding and documented history and harms of restraint and seclusion, 27 US States and Territories have no statutes or regulations on restraint and seclusion in public schools. Though restraint and seclusion continue to be challenged in the legal system (with violations filed under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act), federal regulation has yet to be enacted, and America's children continue to suffer injury and death as a result. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the ethical issues surrounding restraint and seclusion as well as the risks and harms of its use. Finally, I present a framework for policy makers and educators (broadly defined) to follow to reduce the use of these brutal tactics and most importantly, protect America's children from adult-inflicted harm.


10:30 - 11:20 am   310A (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Linear and Ratio Line Graphs: An Experimental Study. Rick Kubina, Jr. (Pennsylvania State University)


Line graphs are ubiquitous in applied behavior analysis (ABA) for evaluating treatments and making decisions. While visual analysis via line graphs offers advantages like summarizing performance over time, the approach has faced criticism for issues like low interrater reliability. The present study investigated whether augmenting traditional line graphs could improve trend detection and reliability. Specifically, we compared three graph types: (1) a standard linear graph displaying a trend; (2) a linear graph with a quantified slope value; and (3) a ratio graph with a celeration line and celeration value. Results showed that the ratio graph with supplementary quantifications led to the most accurate and reliable trend detection, suggesting an approach that could strengthen visual analysis in ABA. Standardizing graphical displays through features like celeration lines and values may provide practitioners with enhanced precision and consistency when inspecting data and judging treatment efficacy. Further research should continue refining best practices for communicating single-subject design data through visualized aids to facilitate reliable decisions.


10:30 - 11:50 am   Ballroom B (1.5 BACB Type-II CEU)

Practical Considerations for Field-Implemented Problem Behavior Functional Analyses


Chair: Michael P. Kranak (Oakland University)
Discussant: Adam M. Briggs (Eastern Michigan University)


Scientists conduct problem behavior assessment and treatment research in settings prepared for that purpose. Resources available to them such as systematically modified, austere environments, time-stream data collection systems, highly trained staff fluent in assessment protocols, enriched in sufficient staff-to- client ratios that make inter-observer reliability data possible, rolling admissions based upon behavioral presentation, and procedural safeguards designed to mitigate risks associated with severe problem behavior. Under these conditions, data bearing reliable functional relationships and stable pre-treatment baselines are often possible. In experimental settings, assigning clients to established experimental protocols occurs rapidly, which allows scientists to accumulate multiple data sets suitable for publication. They accomplish these with safety procedures that protect their clientele. Rarely are these features available in more applied settings. Clients may require services in their homes, where selectively exposing them to single environmental contingencies is much more difficult. Practitioners are often unfamiliar with mobile time-stream data collection applications and are untrained in systematic manipulations. They often work alone or with staff that have limited experience. Novice and intermediate behavior analysts may not have been trained or have gained sufficient insight to mitigate risks, and clients tend to be with them long-term. Environments arranged in experimental settings are toilsome to replicate in most residential settings. These differences make technology transfer difficult and may be why we do not see as many field-implemented functional analyses.


A Case Study on the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Challenging Behavior Maintained by Access to Attention and Medical Care Leanne Latocha, Kelsey E. Stapleton,  Jessica Detrick, Stephanie M. Peterson  (Western Michigan University)


Sometimes challenging behaviors are related to underlying medical variables (Aldinger et al., 2015, Carr & Owen-DeSchryver, 2007). Behavior analysts are expected to assess and address a client's medical needs when challenging behaviors may be influenced by medical variables (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2020, Code 2.12). One indication that medical variables may need to be assessed is when patterns are observed in behavioral data (Copeland & Buch, 2019). This study is a case study on the assessment and treatment of severe challenging behavior which was influenced by underlying medical variables. The participant was a young adult diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder with a history of recurring urinary tract infections (UTI). Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) results indicated that challenging behaviors were maintained by access to attention and medical care. Specifically, results of the FBA revealed a cyclical pattern of challenging behavior. Challenging behaviors also coincided with the contraction of a UTI, indicating that challenging behaviors were influenced by a medical condition. Treatment consisted of meeting medical needs more proactively and honoring mands for medical attention, and challenging behaviors were reduced by 100%. The results of the case study highlight the importance of evaluating for medical variables in the assessment and treatment of severe challenging behavior and to include function-based treatment strategies for challenging behavior that may be evoked and maintained by access to medical care.


A Novel Use of a Concurrent Operant Assessment to Assess Severe Challenging Behavior. Jessica Detrick, Grace Sylvester, Kelsey Stapleton, Stephanie M. Peterson (Western Michigan University) 


The current study investigated the use of a concurrent operant assessment to evaluate the function of severe challenging behavior presented by a female adolescent diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and visual impairment. These assessments use a choice-making paradigm and are sometimes used as an alternative to functional analyses, especially when evoking and reinforcing challenging behavior can be dangerous. Typically, this assessment involves simultaneously presenting two or more stimuli and measuring time allocation to each option. This procedure most often involves separating a room into two separate areas, visually separating the physical space, and asking the client to go to their preferred area. However, for a client with visual impairments whose problem behavior includes refusing to move, such as with this client, accommodations to a concurrent operant assessment are required. We found limited to no research describing a concurrent operant assessment to address these needs. This case example describes how we successfully adapted this assessment using vocal-verbal prompts and participant responses. Results of the assessment suggested that the challenging behaviors were likely to be maintained by access to specific types of attention and that attention was likely a competing function to escaping from demands.


Practical Considerations for Field-Implemented Problem Behavior Functional Analyses. Rocco L. Nocera (Pathways Community Mental Health)


Functional analyses more effectively diagnose environmental features maintaining problem behavior than any other assessment method. Technical refinements have augmented functional analysis efficiency while minimizing injury risks (Thomason-Sassi, Iwata, Neidert & Roscoe, 2011; Querim, Iwata, Roscoe, Schlichenmeyer, Ortega & Hurl, 2013; Slanzi, Vollmer, Iwata, Kronfli, Williams & Perez, 2022). While these advancements address time constraints and the risk of client injuries, additional modifications are necessary to gain institutional cooperation, monitor safety, and collect reasonably reliable diagnostic information. An adult foster care (AFC) referred a client with severe intellectual impairments for self-injury that occurred during showering. This presentation will provide information on home-based functional analysis designed to identify those factors evoking and maintaining the disturbing behavior while maintaining safety and accuracy.


10:30 - 11:50 am   Ballroom A (1.5 BACB Type-II CEU)

Behavior Analytic Approaches to Mental Health Services.


Chair: Thomas J. Waltz (Eastern Michigan University)
Discussant:  Thomas J. Waltz (Eastern Michigan University)


This symposium provides an introduction to behavior analytic approaches to mental health services. We begin with reviewing how functional analysis is used in clinical case formulations for mental and behavioral health presentations and illustrate strategies that increase a clinician's ability to contextualize client presenting concerns. This will be followed by a review of behavior analytic conceptualizations of depression from the early work by Skinner and Ferster to present day, accompanied by case illustrations. Our final presentation describes the enduring relevance of Goldiamond's work and looks at the systems individuals are embedded in that need to be addressed when working with vulnerable populations.


Functional Analysis in Clinical Case Formulations in Mental Health. Crystal Lim, Thomas J. Waltz, Claudia Drossel (Eastern Michigan University)


Already in 1974, Kanfer and Saslow pointed out shortcomings of the current diagnostic system, which bases diagnoses on the classification and clustering of presenting problems viewed topographically. They introduced functional analysis as a powerful tool and suggested that behavioral health problems could be viewed as (a) behavioral deficits, (b) behavioral excesses, (c) inappropriate stimulus control, (d) inappropriate self-management, and (e) inappropriate reinforcement contingencies. Later developments by Haynes and colleagues (2011) focused on a collaborative approach by which clients are actively engaged in generating functional analytical clinical case diagrams (FACCD) to be tested. These comprehensive diagrams extend Kanfer and Saslow's work and capture historical and current factors that may be influencing the presenting problem, including strengths (and not only weaknesses), medical conditions, relationship characteristics, and other social patterns. With the FACCD, collaborative treatment planning results in examining the effects of different variables during treatment. This presentation will explore the connection between the functional analytical approach FACCD, focusing on social determinants of behavior change.


The Interpersonal Contexts of Depression and Suicidal Behavior Peiqi Lu, Thomas Waltz, Claudia Drossel (Eastern Michigan University) 


Depressed behavior is characterized by a loss of access to reinforcers, and suicidal behavior (e.g., thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, planning, or intent) sometimes accompanies such loss. Behavior analysis has a long history of addressing depressed and suicidal behavior, starting with Ferster's work in 1973 that outlined potential contextual factors. Ferster focused on ineffective social interactions, marked by magical mands and coercion, that contribute to an absence of reinforceable responses and the emergence of extreme behavior. Later, interpersonal theories of depression (for a review, see Van Orden et al., 2010) picked up the circumstance that individuals with depressed behavior often meet with social dislike or rejection. This presentation will discuss how functional analysis conceptualizes and targets depressed and suicidal behaviors from an interpersonal perspective, illustrated with case examples. Functional analysis allows for the design of individualized treatments by understanding idiosyncratic contextual factors that maintain target behaviors. Emphasis will be placed on linking assessment to current empirically supported intervention packages (e.g., behavioral activation, acceptance and commitment therapy, problem-solving therapy, interpersonal therapy).


The Relevance of Goldiamond's Work to Advocacy and Social Change. Lindsey Bookman, Claudia Drossel  (Eastern Michigan University)


Society at large defines the circumstances under which specific behavioral patterns count as "problematic" and "intervenable." In the 1970s, Goldiamond pointed out that behavioral health providers - as members of the culture - often uncritically accept the given social definitions of behaviors needing intervention. Consequently, behavioral health providers may rely on behavior reduction programs to and adapt client behavior to systems (e.g., educational, care, or familial) that are inadequate, ineffective, discriminatory, oppressive, and in need of reform. He outlined steps to safeguard providers from participating in questionable social or institutional practices. The current presentation will review the ethical considerations for defining "problem behavior" problem with "problem definitions" and Goldiamond's proposed solutions. We will especially consider caregiving/parenting and surrogate consent situations. Working with individuals who have difficulties expressing their preferences requires a careful analysis of the interests of the individual, their local community, and the systems in which they participate. Finally, we will discuss expanding the roles of behavioral health providers to include advocacy and the facilitation of social change.

CE Objectives:

-At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to use structured clinical case formulation tools to improve the individual tailoring of their client treatment plans.
-At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to use descriptive functional analysis to link interpersonal components of depressed and suicidal clinical case presentations to evidence-based interventions.
-At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to describe how individual, local community, and system-level assumptions underlying problem definitions impact treatment planning.


Friday Lunch (on your own) & Meetings
Noon - 1:30pm


Special Lunch Event: 12:30 - 1:20 pm   310A

Severe Behavior Consortium Roundtable Discussion Stephanie Peterson, J. Adam Bennett, Ali Schroeder (Western Michigan University), Michael Kranak (Oakland University), Mariana Del Rio (Western Michigan University) 


Grab your lunch and come join us for discussions surrounding severe behavior problems in individuals with developmental disabilities in Michigan. We will have three topical areas for you to choose from: Reimbursement rates for assessment and treatment of severe behavior problems, training needs for staff performing assessment and treatment of severe behavior problems, and needs assessment design. Facilitators will be at each table to get the discussion going. We'd love your input on all of these issues, and we are looking for folks who might like to get involved in working with the consortium on each of these issues/projects.


Friday Keynote Address
1:30 - 2:30 pm

Ballrooms A & B



Bridging the Employment Gap: Preparing Autistic Students for the AI Workforce Rick Kubina, Jr. (Pennsylvania State University) (1 BACB Type-II CEU)


This presentation explores a pioneering strategy aimed at mitigating the acute talent deficit in the AI sector by leveraging the capabilities of the autistic community. Despite a marked propensity for STEM disciplines within the group, a staggering 80% face unemployment, primarily due to pervasive social stigmas and systemic barriers. Our initiative seeks to revolutionize the scenario by creating avenues for autistic individuals attending community college to pursue specialized AI career paths. The focus will be on deploying innovative teaching methodologies and immersive learning experiences. The strategy includes the application of various behavior analytic techniques such as custom instructional design, reinforcement of pivotal social skills, and adaptive learning interventions tailored to enhance vocational competency and integration. The initiative addresses the skills gap in the AI industry and champions the cause of inclusivity by empowering an underrepresented segment of society with the skills and opportunities to thrive in tech-oriented careers.


Friday Afternoon


2:30 - 3:20 pm   Ballrooms A & B (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Behavior Analysis for Climate Action.   Susan M. Schneider (Western Michigan University)


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that humanity has only 6 years to cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half. The science and technology needed has long existed: This is a behavioral problem. Behavior analysts are thus uniquely positioned to help save the world (literally). This talk will cover the historical behavior-analytic role in co-founding environmental psychology, summarize current efforts within our field, and outline our potential role in the larger interdisciplinary behavioral sustainability effort. Popular, behavior analysis-compatible approaches like McKenzie-Mohr's "community-based social marketing" will be described and strategies for involvement proposed. Gamification of sustainability offers a natural fit, and behavior analysts are currently participating in that initiative. Where else have we succeeded? What can behavior analysts contribute most effectively - and quickly? On our own or collaboratively? Audience participation will be welcomed.


Those who attend this presentation should:

1. be able to summarize the early history of behavior analysis in sustainability and environmental psychology. Attendees will learn about the critical role our discipline played, and the nature of our early contributions.
2. be able to assess where behavior analysis methods are most likely to be useful in addressing sustainability. Attendees will learn about a range of typical behavioral sustainability goals and projects.
3. be able to appreciate how behavior analysis complements McKenzie-Mohr's and other popular interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability. Attendees will learn the basics of these strategies and the importance of collaboration.


2:30 - 3:20 pm  Room 352 (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Things Fall Apart: Organizational Performance Problems Require Engineering Solutions. Guy Bruce (Appealing Solutions, LLC)


When providers don't work together, clients fail to make efficient progress towards mastery of the knowledge and skills they need for successful lives. Things Fall Apart. "If you pit a good performer against a bad system, the system wins almost every time." We can use behavior analysis to engineer provider behavior change at the system, process, and individual levels of a school, center, or tutoring program, to solve its organizational performance problems so that every client will make efficient progress. I will tell the story of a preschool for children with autism that was losing clients and staff because of it lacked a pragmatic organizational performance engineering process to ensure provider, parent, and client success. We designed and implemented the EARS process of organizational performance engineering to solve this problem. The EARS process has the following steps: 1) Evaluate client progress using frequent, accurate, and sensitive measures, to identify as soon as possible when a client is not making efficient progress. 2) Analyze the causes of provider performance problems using direct, accurate measures. 3) Recommend changes in provider resources, training, and management based on the analysis. 4) Solve provider performance problems by designing and implementing changes in provider resources, training, and management.


2:30 - 3:20 pm Auditorium

The Kalamazoo Academy for Behavioral and Academic Success (KABAS). Margaret Uwayo, Richard W. Malott (Kalamazoo Academy for Behavioral and Academic Success)


This is the first trimester report on KABAS, a small, K-6 private, nonprofit, Michigan-approved school, based 100% on ABA, with a 1 to 1 up to 1 to 4, instructor/student ratio, an ABA intensity not available in the public schools. Our students are children with autism or Down syndrome, or neuro-typical children who are behind one or more grades or who do not have the prerequisite academic skills or who cause so many problems they are often expelled. KABAS uses published ABA, research-based curricula. The results, to date, are considerable academic progress for all, happy students, happy parents, and happy instructors. Data will be presented.


2:30 - 3:20 pm   Room 320

How to Get into Graduate School.  Adam Briggs (Eastern  Michigan University)


This presentation will cover all the important aspects of getting into graduate school in behavior analysis, both at the masters and doctoral levels.




Thursday 9:00 - 11:50 am 204 (3 BACB Type-II CEUs)

Organizational Performance Engineering for Provider, Parent, and Client Success: Part I.


Instructor: Guy Bruce (Appealing Solutions)

Workshop Length: Six Hours in Two Parts

Workshop Cost: $100 per part--Includes free Thursday, one-day, registration for workshop attendees


Do you work as a program designer, staff trainer, supervisor, or director of an organization that provides services to clients with learning difficulties? Are you satisfied with your clients' progress? Behavior analysis developed a powerful technology for helping people, but too many clients don't receive the benefits. Why not? The easy answer is that employees don't do what they are told. But the employees' performance, just like their clients' performance, is a product of their environment. Do providers have the resources, training, and management necessary to help their clients achieve their goals? What about their supervisors, staff trainers, and program designers?

In their book "A Measure of a Leader," Aubrey and Jamie Daniels write, "the leader's role is to establish the conditions under which all performers will choose to execute the mission, vision, and values of the organization." Effective leaders change how their staff work together so that every client makes efficient progress towards mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for a successful life. That goal requires an organizational performance engineering approach to leadership.

Organizations are groups of individuals who must work together to provide their clients with the outcomes they want. The failure of clients to make adequate progress is not usually an individual employee performance problem, but a performance problem at the system process, and individual levels of the organization.

This workshop will teach you how to design and implement the EARS process of organizational performance engineering to change how providers work together, so that every client makes efficient progress. The EARS process has the following steps: 1) Evaluate client progress using frequent, accurate, and sensitive measures; 2) Analyze causes of provider performance problems using direct measures; 3) Recommend changes to provider resources, training, and management; and 4) Solve provider performance problems by designing and implementing recommended solutions.

My workshops are highly interactive and practice intensive. Participants receive workbooks full of practice exercises, in addition to the those that have embedded in my PowerPoint, sets of practice cards which are used to build fluency, and a beta-test version of an application that makes it easy to evaluate their own and others' performance and progress.

Workshop Objectives

1) Label examples of pragmatic and dogmatic approaches to behavior change.
2) Distinguish between the goals of scientists, engineers and technicians.
3) Describe the provider-recipient relationships needed to ensure efficient client progress.
4) Evaluate client products, performance, and progress using frequent, accurate, sensitive measures.
5) Analyze causes of provider performance problems using direct measures to identify can-do problems due to inadequate resources, know-how problems due to inadequate training, and want-to problems due to inadequate management.
6) Recommend changes in provider resources, training, and management based on the analysis of provider performance problems.
7) Solve provider performance problems by designing and implementing changes in provider a) resources, b) training, and c) management.
8) Plan your own EARS project at your center, tutoring service, or school.


My workshops are highly interactive and practice intensive. Participants receive workbooks full of practice exercises, in addition to the those that have embedded in my PowerPoint, sets of practice cards which they use to build fluency, and a beta-test version of an application that makes it easy to evaluate their own and others' performance and progress. .


Thursday 2:30 - 5:20 pm 204 (1 BACB Type-II CEU)

Organizational Performance Engineering for Provider, Parent, and Client Success: Part II.


Instructor: Guy Bruce (Appealing Solutions)

Workshop Length: Six Hours in two parts

Workshop Cost: $100 per part--Includes free Thursday, one-day, registration for workshop attendees


Do you work as a program designer, staff trainer, supervisor, or director of an organization that provides services to clients with learning difficulties? Are you satisfied with your clients' progress? Behavior analysis developed a powerful technology for helping people, but too many clients don't receive the benefits. Why not? The easy answer is that employees don't do what they are told. But the employees' performance, just like their clients' performance, is a product of their environment. Do providers have the resources, training, and management necessary to help their clients achieve their goals? What about their supervisors, staff trainers, and program designers?

In their book "A Measure of a Leader," Aubrey and Jamie Daniels write, "the leader's role is to establish the conditions under which all performers will choose to execute the mission, vision, and values of the organization." Effective leaders change how their staff work together so that every client makes efficient progress towards mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for a successful life. That goal requires an organizational performance engineering approach to leadership.

Organizations are groups of individuals who must work together to provide their clients with the outcomes they want. The failure of clients to make adequate progress is not usually an individual employee performance problem, but a performance problem at the system process, and individual levels of the organization.

This workshop will teach you how to design and implement the EARS process of organizational performance engineering to change how providers work together, so that every client makes efficient progress. The EARS process has the following steps: 1) Evaluate client progress using frequent, accurate, and sensitive measures; 2) Analyze causes of provider performance problems using direct measures; 3) Recommend changes to provider resources, training, and management; and 4) Solve provider performance problems by designing and implementing recommended solutions.

My workshops are highly interactive and practice intensive. Participants receive workbooks full of practice exercises, in addition to the those that have embedded in my PowerPoint, sets of practice cards which are used to build fluency, and a beta-test version of an application that makes it easy to evaluate their own and others' performance and progress.

Workshop Objectives

1) Label examples of pragmatic and dogmatic approaches to behavior change.
2) Distinguish between the goals of scientists, engineers and technicians.
3) Describe the provider-recipient relationships needed to ensure efficient client progress.
4) Evaluate client products, performance, and progress using frequent, accurate, sensitive measures.
5) Analyze causes of provider performance problems using direct measures to identify can-do problems due to inadequate resources, know-how problems due to inadequate training, and want-to problems due to inadequate management.
6) Recommend changes in provider resources, training, and management based on the analysis of provider performance problems.
7) Solve provider performance problems by designing and implementing changes in provider a) resources, b) training, and c) management.
8) Plan your own EARS project at your center, tutoring service, or school.


My workshops are highly interactive and practice intensive. Participants receive workbooks full of practice exercises, in addition to the those that have embedded in my PowerPoint, sets of practice cards which they use to build fluency, and a beta-test version of an application that makes it easy to evaluate their own and others' performance and progress..


Friday 9:00 - 11:50 am 310B (3 BACB Type-II CEU)

Echoic Assessment and Program Planning for Early Speech Learners.


Workshop Instructor: Barbara Esch (Esch Behavioral Consultants)

Workshop Length: Three Hours

Workshop cost: $60--Includes free Friday, one-day, registration for workshop attendees

Workshop attendance limit: 100


Echoic skills, the ability to repeat a speech model, play a major role in early speech development. One such role is to establish sound-making as a reinforcing activity. Another is to fast-track the learning of other important vocal language skills, beyond just repeating what is heard. These critical skills include asking for, commenting on, or having conversations about things, people, activities, and the like. No matter the age of the early speech learner, it is useful to assess and track echoic skills as the foundation of a set of complex behaviors that result in vocal-verbal language. In this presentation, Dr. Esch will discuss the role of the echoic verbal operant within overall vocal language learning, how echoic skills are analyzed in terms of syllable complexity and why this is prioritized over precise articulation for beginning speakers, and how to use echoic assessment information to build a beginning speech-language program. As the basis for this workshop, Dr. Esch will show and discuss materials from her newly-published EESA: Early Echoic Skills Assessment and Program Planner, Guide and Protocol. Dr. Esch will discuss the 6 program planning tasks from the EESA Work Packet contained in the EESA's Protocol manual, with the goal that, by the end of the workshop, attendees will know how to access step-by-step materials to complete a beginning speech program for their unique learner.

Workshop Objectives:
1. Identify the components of syllable complexity.
2. Distinguish accurate from inaccurate syllable complexity codes.
3. Identify characteristics of the EESA-R test groups.



Friday 9:00 - 11:50 am 320

Unlocking the Mystery of Selective Mutism


Instructor: Aimee Kotrba PhD (Thriving Minds Behavioral Health)

Workshop Length: Three Hours

Workshop Cost: $40--Includes free Friday, one-day, registration for workshop attendees


Children with untreated Selective Mutism are at an increased risk for self-esteem issues, depression, school failure, social skill problems, and school refusal. Early and evidence-based therapeutic intervention is of upmost importance to decreasing anxiety and increase communication in children with Selective Mutism. Through the use of case studies and video examples, participants will learn how to identify and assess for Selective Mutism and what school and mental health professionals can do to help. Exposure- based interventions will be described, so that participants will leave with a clear behavioral intervention plan for both the clinic and school setting. Interventions are broken down into small, easily understood steps that participants can immediately use with their patients or students.

Workshop Objectives:
- Identify and evaluate for Selective Mutism in the clinic and school setting
- Describe what schools/parents can do to help
- Create a specific, evidence-based intervention plan focusing on exposure
- Develop special education plans for children with Selective Mutism
- Identify appropriate social and academic expectations


Friday 3:30-5:00 PM
Refreshments Served 


A Practical Application of a Fading Protocol: Increasing Independence. Grace E. Sylvester, Kelsey E Stapleton, Jessica J Detrick, Stephanie Peterson (Western Michigan University)


Individuals who engage in severe challenging behavior may have intrusive strategies included in their behavior support plans (BSP) for their safety and the safety of others. In this study, due to the topography of challenging behavior (i.e., hair pulling) the participant required a 1:1, male, staff-to-consumer ratio. Two fading protocols were implemented to: 1) increase the number of sessions worked with female staff members/consumers, and 2) increase the staff-to-consumer ratio (e.g., 1:2, 1:3). These protocols were implemented to decrease the intrusiveness of the BSP and increase this participant's independence.


A Scoping Review of Research on and Strategies for Mitigating Burnout Among Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Kayla Grunewald, Michael Kranak, Natalie Andzik, Chloe Jones (Oakland University)


Board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are experiencing an all-time high and alarming rate of burnout. Burnout can lead to high turnover rates, general unsatisfaction with both work and life, and (potentially) unethical clinical practices--which can directly impact service provision for individuals with autism. We conducted a scoping review of research on and strategies for mitigating burnout among BCBAs. Results indicated that there has been a recent increase, but overall, very little work is occurring in this area. BCBAs can rely on evidence-based strategies from both within and outside behavior analysis to combat burnout.


Case Study: PEERS(tm) Treatment Package for Meaningful Relationships.  Ava Grace Cole, Chelsie Morgon (Judson Center)


The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relationship Skills (PEERS) for Young Adults(tm) is a social skills intervention program created by UCLA for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other social challenges. PEERS(tm) for young adults typically consists of 16 sessions run weekly over the course of 16 weeks. Students of the program typically meet for about 90 minutes each week to go over the lesson and practice social skills. PEERS(tm) teaches social skills to young adults, however the structure of 16 sessions for 90 minutes can be difficult for adults receiving Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy daily. To optimize the PEERS program for both students and staff, we modified sessions into didactic lessons, role plays, and behavioral exercises, and developed modified data collection tools. This case study will analyze the efficacy of this modified PEERS(tm) curriculum in teaching social skills as well as the efficacy of implementation of these lessons during ABA services. Breaking down the PEERS(tm) sessions into smaller programs that can be run during ABA services may help students to effectively gain social skills and reach their goal of having meaningful relationships.


Description of a School-Based Consultation Practicum: Data, Directions, and Recommendations. Lauren Bedell, Michael Kranak, Sadie Hughes, Jessica Korneder, Morgan Horning & Chloe Jones (Oakland University)


An increasing number of board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are providing services in schools and collaborating with school-based personnel and stakeholders. Unfortunately, opportunities for trainees to accrue school-based practicum experiences is seemingly still limited. We present data from and provide recommendations based on our school-based practicum, MI-GUIDES: Michigan Groups United to Inspire, Drive, and Educate Students.


Effects of a Freedom of Movement Restriction Removal Protocol to Treat Challenging Behavior. Allison M. Mars, Jessica J. Detrick, Kelsey E. Stapleton, Erin M. Isola, Stephanie M. Peterson (Western Michigan University) 


Some individuals with severe challenging behaviors require restrictions to ensure the safety of the individual and others. A freedom of movement restriction can be used to prevent an individual from engaging in elopement, substance abuse, and other unsafe behaviors in the community. We evaluated a protocol to fade a freedom of movement restriction contingent on the absence of challenging behaviors exhibited by a 69-year-old male diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and alcohol use disorder in a residential facility. Bipolar disorder patients are more prone to violence, especially when correlated with substance abuse (Kammoun & Halouani, 2021). This individual's challenging behaviors include aggression, substance abuse, and elopement. The restriction removal protocol is meant to systematically remove restrictive procedures in the individual's plan as he engages in more appropriate behaviors and less challenging behaviors. Specifically, as the individual engages in community engagement, the restrictions are faded to facilitate more independence. The process of getting the restrictions removed and relocating to alternative/less restrictive housing has been effective at decreasing challenging behaviors and increasing appropriate behaviors in the community.


Extinction, Stimulus Control, and Temporal Context in Rats. Matthew P. Olenczuk, Tiffany N. Brigham, Mark P. Reilly (Central Michigan University)


The transient increase in responding following transitions to extinction has been difficult to demonstrate in non-human animals, despite the ubiquitous nature of such extinction bursts in human research and practice. The present study investigated the effects of lever location on responding during extinction. Four rats lever pressed for food pellets under a fixed-ratio (FR) 5 schedule. Two rats had a lever in the front of the chamber adjacent to the food dish, and two had a lever in the back. The lights and contingency were active before the rats were placed into the chamber to control exposure to extinction. After 50 reinforcers, a 5-min blackout period where lever presses had no programmed consequences began. Following training, the formal extinction manipulation was implemented. During these sessions, a 10-min extinction period occurred after the 25th reinforcer. After six sessions of extinction, a 5-min blackout period (identical to the end of session blackout) was added to the beginning of the session to examine extinction effects that occur prior to reinforcement. Rates of responding during the FR 5 were lower but stabilized more quickly for rats with back levers. Differences in inter-response time distributions during the FR 5 and extinction occurred but not in a direction expected with extinction bursts. Lever pressing was almost nonexistent in the end blackout yet maintained in the beginning blackout despite these two periods being identical. While there was no evidence of the extinction burst, the stimulus control that developed by the lights depended on the sequence or temporality of the timeout components relative to the FR 5 contingency. Future research will explore this temporal discrimination


Improving Quality of Life: Mass Trialing Daily Living Skills in an Individual with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and Autism. Alicia C. Hines (Judson Center)


To improve the quality of life for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), daily living skills (DLS) may be incorporated into their skill acquisition programs when participating in applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. Individuals who have an additional diagnosis of Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS) along with their ASD diagnosis have additional barriers that may reduce their ability to retain skills that allow for further skill acquisition. Repetition is "particularly important for those with PMS to continue to progress and avoid regression--those with PMS might require more sessions and trials per session to achieve the same progress as someone diagnosed with ASD (Schroeder, et al. 2021). There are evidence-based practices that can increase the level of an autistic individual's independence in their day-to-day lives, however, there is little research about the success of ABA interventions regarding the acquisition of DLS with individuals with a dual diagnosis of ASD and PMS. The purpose of this study is to track the progress of implementing a task analysis (TA) program using mass trial methods to teach and increase retention rates in an 8-year-old child with a dual diagnosis of ASD and PMS. The targeted skill was to put on a shirt utilizing a whole chain approach. The TA was broken down into eight steps. Baseline data was collected by presenting the task one time per hour during the client session. During the first phase of the intervention, the task analysis was presented utilizing single-trial methods and most-to-least prompting. During the second phase of the intervention, mass trialing and most-to-least prompting methods were utilized. Mass trialing consisted of the target skill being run 5 times per hour.


Incentivized Collaborative Care to Disseminate Contingency Management Via Buprenorphine Prescribers. Jade Astin, Rosemarie Davidson, Hayley Brown, Anthony DeFulio (Western Michigan University)


Opioid-related deaths are at an all-time high in the United States, with 100,000 overdose deaths in 2020. Buprenorphine reduces overdose risk and improves quality of life. However, many people leave treatment early or do not adhere to the medicine. Contingency management (CM) is a behavioral intervention that could improve buprenorphine treatment outcomes. In CM, incentives are delivered contingent upon recovery-related behaviors. Over 100 randomized controlled trials show CM is an effective intervention for substance use disorders. Nevertheless, clinical adoption is slow. Smartphone-based CM can help dissemination, but additional strategies are necessary. Thus, the present study was designed to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and usability of incentivized collaborative care as a means of increasing access to contingency management and enhancing its effectiveness by integrating it with office-based opioid treatment. A single-group, non-experimental study was conducted in which 13 buprenorphine prescribers served as participants. Prescribers referred their patients to a commercially-available smartphone-based contingency management intervention. Prescribers received monetary incentives in exchange for monthly review of patient data that was captured as part of the patients' use of the contingency management service. Prescribers reported that they used the CM data to validate patient efforts, detect ongoing struggles with substances, and enhance their patient/provider relationship. Overall, we have demonstrated that incentivized collaborative care is feasible, easy to use, and acceptable to patients and prescribers alike. This approach is unlikely to be a complete solution to the problem of slow adoption of CM.


More Bang for Your Buck: Contingency Management is More Effective Than Predicted Based on Economic Models Alone. Rosemarie M. Davidson, Haily K. Traxler, Anthony DeFulio (Western Michigan University)


Contingency management (CM) has been incredibly successful as a treatment for substance use disorders. Typical procedures include making material incentives or privileges contingent on drug abstinence, as verified by drug tests. However, some authors have suggested that CM's effects exceed predictions based on the value of the incentives. To assess the effectiveness of CM incentives as reinforcers, we compared CM's predicted effect to its observed effect in peer-reviewed studies. We determined the predicted effect by evaluating demand curves for cigarettes and cocaine, respectively, and finding the change in consumption when unit prices were increased by the amount of obtained incentive in each published study. CM interventions for cocaine overwhelmingly outperformed their predicted effect, whereas CM interventions for cigarettes outperformed their predicted effect in a third of the studies. This finding suggests that the incentives alone may not account for the success of CM. We propose other potential sources of the effect, including social reinforcement and the specific parameters of the DRO schedule. Future studies will be required to evaluate whether and to what extent these factors play a role in the effectiveness of CM as a treatment for substance use disorders.


Paving the Way with Today's ABA:  Using Skill Based Treatment to Reduce Maladaptive Behaviors and Reintroduce Acquisition Targets. Julia C Boushelle, Sydney Koehl, Sarah Waineo, Sarah Sorise, Amy Finkel (Judson Center)


Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may frequently engage in challenging behaviors that often impede quality of life along with threaten physical safety to themselves/others. These behaviors will most likely require intervention at some point in the individual's life to increase socially significant skills to live to full potential. Intervention through Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) aims to use principals of reinforcement and conditioning to target the reduction of maladaptive behaviors and improvement of socially significant behaviors. Recent studies have highlighted that traditional methods of ABA may not be as effective for individuals that engage in behaviors that have become dangerous and impair the quality of life. Recent applications using newer methods from the Practical Functional Assessment (PFA) and Skill Based Treatment (SBT) have imparted meaningful improvement in challenging behavior reduction along with teaching contextually and socially significant life skills (functional communication, tolerance training, and contextually appropriate behaviors). In this study, we investigate the effectiveness of using procedures of PFA and SBT to reduce severe and obstructing behaviors of a 10-year-old boy who has historically slow skill acquisition rates, limited tangible and social reinforcers, and has not maintained skills previously mastered during therapy.


Pre-Choice Food Delivery Increases Impulsive Choice in Rats. Katie L. Monske, Ryan C. Brown, Mark P. Reilly (Central Michigan University)


Previous studies have found that impulsive choice or preference for a smaller, immediate reinforcer over a larger, delayed one increased by the presentation of food-related cues and pre-choice feeding in humans, rats, and pigeons. An attempt at replication was not successful which prompted further investigation into the mechanism and bounds of this pre-choice feeding effect. In the current study, rats were given the choice between a larger, delayed amount of 10% sucrose water and a smaller, immediate amount. Depending on the condition, sucrose water was presented 0 s or 5 s before the choice. Preference for the larger alternative was decreased when sucrose water was presented 0-s before the choice, but preference was comparable when sucrose water was presented 5 s before or not at all. These results replicate previous studies showing that pre-choice feeding can increase impulsive choice. To further test the variables underlying this effect, rats will be given four (rather than one) sucrose presentations during the intertrial interval, each spaced 10-s apart and no earlier than 5 s before the choice. This manipulation will test whether the feeding effect can be produced by multiple reinforcer deliveries despite a weaker temporal relation with the choice.


Prevalence Effects on Discrimination Learning in Rats. Ryan C. Brown, Katie L. Monske, Mark P. Reilly (Central Michigan University)


In humans, reducing the prevalence of a stimulus can drastically alter measures of its detectability. Two contrasting effects have been reported in the literature. One effect demonstrates a decrease in stimulus reporting due to a reduced prevalence, and another demonstrates an increase in reporting. These differing results have been attributed to a feedback effect, where participants who were informed whether a previous choice was correct or not before they began the next trial had a tendency to under report the presence of the stimulus. The purpose of the present study is to investigate these prevalence effects in rats. Replication in rats would allow us to control for variations in the testing environment, subject learning history, and influences of verbal behavior. A flash-rate discrimination procedure developed in our lab was adapted for the present study. In Phase 1, eight rats will undergo conditional discrimination training until they can discriminate between 5 and 1 Hz flash rates of a stimulus light. Rats will be trained at either 50% or 10% prevalence of a 5 Hz flash rate. Afterwards, a series of generalization probes will be conducted in extinction to produce generalization gradients. In Phase 2 the prevalence of the 5 Hz flash rate will be changed to 50% for rats that received training at 10% prevalence, and to 10% for rats that received training at 50% prevalence. Following training with the manipulated prevalence, another series of generalization probes will be conducted. We expect to a decrease in stimulus recognition with reduced prevalence given that the discrimination training involves feedback in the delivery of food pellets for correct responses; a feature consistent with the prior literature.


A Scoping Literature Review of Pre-Assessments Used in Functional Analyses. Kallyn Meyer, Grace Kovacich (Eastern Michigan University)


Prior research has been conducted summarizing 20 years, 30 years, and 40 years of functional analysis, but further investigation into the supplemental assessments that informs the functional analysis has yet to be done (Hanley et al., 2003; Beavers et al., 2013; Melanson et al., 2023). The purpose of this poster is to present preliminary findings of the pre-assessments used to inform experimental functional analyses in the published research of 2022. Our goal in surveying the various methods being used to inform FA test and control conditions is to identify (a) standard procedures/approaches, (b) unique circumstances, (c) trends in the literature, and (d) discuss whether various methods may result in enhanced test/control conditions and be more/less likely to identify functions (test conditions) or effectively suppress behavior (control condition). The aim is to organize these findings in a way that might reveal considerations for practice and areas for future research. Our preliminary results indicate that 90% of studies in the past year reported on pre-assessments with most studies (52%) conducting at least one preference assessment with their participants. Many studies include subtle nuances in the procedures that detail what informed their function analysis, such as parent reports, records reviews, and previous functional analysis results. Our discussion highlights these idiosyncrasies and infers the implications of informed functional analyses.


Smartphone-Based Contingency Management for Buprenorphine Adherence: The Steady Study. Cristal Cardoso Sao Mateus, Rosemarie Michaella Davidson, Hayley Dawn Brown, Anthony DeFulio (Western Michigan University)


Opioid-related overdose deaths are at an all-time high in the United States. Medication-assisted treatments, such as methadone and buprenorphine, are among the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder, and greatly reduce the risk of overdose death. However, medication non-adherence and treatment dropout are common problems, especially for buprenorphine. Contingency management (CM) is an efficacious treatment for improving a variety of health-related behaviors including medication adherence. In CM, incentives are provided to participants contingent on the objective confirmation that they have engaged in a target behavior. CM has traditionally been implemented in-person at outpatient clinics but this can be burdensome to providers and patients alike. However, recent advances in smartphone technology have made remote implementation of CM possible, easing the burden on providers and patients. The use of smartphones to deliver CM overcomes a variety of barriers to its adoption and facilitates its rapid dissemination. This in turn could provide increased access to a potentially life-saving intervention that is desperately needed. We will describe the results of retrospective analyses conducted over the last several years, as well as the results of a recent pilot study of the use of the platform as a means of promoting adherence and retention in buprenorphine-assisted treatment. Findings of the pilot study indicate that buprenorphine adherence was high in our sample and the intervention was well-received by participants. This is consistent with the retrospective analyses that support the efficacy of the smartphone-based intervention in increasing drug abstinence and treatment retention.


Teaching Self-Management Skills Using Detailed Training Curriculum. Claudia Rae Nowak, Chelsie Morgan (Judson Center)


One of the main core deficits of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is self-awareness. Self-monitoring interventions help children with ASD learn to independently regulate their behaviors and emotions, thus making it easier to navigate social settings and situations. This classroom-based practice is taught to students with such ease that the techniques inherited will allow them to become more responsible for their own actions and less dependent on continuous emotional supervision. Self-monitoring skills were taught to a student receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy using a detailed curriculum that included role plays, short term progressive goals, and continuous measurement opportunities. Since implementing these interventions, we have seen a significant decrease in irregular behavior and an increase in self-awareness. With continuous encouragement this core skill can be shaped into a foundation for emotional regulation and help increase varied social skills.


The Implementation of a Packaged Intervention to Increase the Retention and Generalization of Current Programming and Maintenance in a Child with Autism: Part One.  Shelby L. DiFiore (The Judson Center)


The purpose of this study was to identify and evaluate an adequate intervention to increase a client's accuracy, retention and generalization of maintenance by increasing the frequency and the number of exemplars presented. This study was implemented by a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) for a 15-year-old, male, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who attended Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) 40 hours per week. Data records showcased severe deficits pertaining to retention and generalization of previously mastered programming. This intervention was implemented in both natural environment teaching and discrete trial teaching, and did not interrupt the clients everyday programming. Special request: This will be a two part poster presentation. The second portion of this poster presentation will be submitted by Jessica Pavela from The Judson Center. Please accommodate our poster presentations being set up next to each other.


The Utilization of a Packaged Intervention to Continue Increased Retention and Generalization of Programming and Maintenance with a Child with Autism: Part Two. Jessica Pavela (The Judson Center)


The purpose of this study was to implement the packaged intervention deemed successful in a previous study with increasing the client's accuracy, retention, and generalization of maintenance. Skills were successfully taught by utilizing a packaged intervention that included: increased frequency and exposure of targets, multiple exemplar training, and natural environment teaching. This study was implemented by a variety of behavior technicians under the direct supervision of a BCBA for a 15-year-old male diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who attended Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for 40 hours per week. Data records showcased significant increases in skill acquisition of new targets introduced along with the retention and generalization of mastered targets.


Training Behavior Technicians to Implement Reciprocal Imitation Training. Noel E. Oteto (Michigan State University) 


Explicit training procedures may be necessary to effectively train behavior technicians to implement naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBS). Although behavior analytical literature is full of strategies for teaching discrete trial training strategies (DTT), data is limited on concrete strategies for training providers to implement NDBIs. For clients to fully benefit from NDBIs, providersshould train practitioners explicit methods in implementing such procedures. In this study, three adult behavior technicians employed in an early childhood behavioral intervention center for autism spectrum disorders were paired with three children receiving therapy at this center. A concurrent multiple probe across participants design was used to evaluate the effect of behavioral skills training (BST) procedures on the implementation of reciprocal imitation training (RIT), an NDBI. Results suggest that BST was an effective training procedure for training behavior technicians to implement reciprocal imitation training. This study adds to the nascent literature on explicit training methods for providers to implement naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions in early intervention clinics.


Unraveling Effectiveness: A Comparative Analysis of Mass Trails vs Random Rotation for Tact Training.  Paris Morgan & Stephanie Allor (Total Education Solutions)


This study investigates the effectiveness of two teaching procedures, random rotation and mass trials, for skill acquisition and behavior therapy in two participants. Participant 1 exhibited superior performance with random rotation, indicating enhanced generalization and retention. In contrast, Participant 2 displayed greater proficiency with mass trials, suggesting a preference for consistent practice. The study acknowledges limitations related to missed therapy sessions for both participants and the absence of maintenance trials. These findings underscore the significance of tailoring interventions based on individual learning styles. Future research should address limitations to improve behavior retention and intervention strategies for diverse populations.


Using Matching to Initiate a Tact to Mand Transfer. Adrienne Rhichele McCarty & Kaylee Leanne McClellan (Judson Center)


A common skill taught to autistic children when enrolled in ABA therapy is requesting, or manding, for items they want or need. This skill is socially significant due to requesting being a foundational skill to start developing communication, social skills, and self-advocacy. When teaching the skill of manding, there are additional skills that may be used to help support building the manding repertoire, including attending to stimuli in the environment, tacting, and echoics. Mand training also requires a motivating operation to be successful. Previous research suggests that a common way to teach mands for students with a few known tacts is to use a tact to mand transfer approach. By first teaching a learner to label an item, they may begin requesting this item using the label. This study examined the pace of the transition from learning the name of an item to asking for that item, using a matching step to initiate this transfer.



Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197