Practical and Ethical Methodologies for Assessing Function of Problematic Behaviors in the Natural Environment

Robert Ross
4.50 out of 5
(18 customer reviews)


BCBA CEUs: 1 Total CEU | 1 Ethics CEU

This session from the 2018 Michigan Autism Conference addresses ethical concerns in current Functional Analysis (FA) methods, such as reinforcing problem behavior directly during assessment and using indirect data for hypothesis development. It introduces alternative procedures that involve direct experimental tests, allowing clinicians to gather objective data on reinforcing effects without directly reinforcing harmful behavior.

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Some current Functional Analysis (FA) methods (Analog and Trial-based) typically rely on two elements that raise ethical concerns: 1. The direct reinforcement of the problem behavior as part of the assessment process (Analog and Trial-based methods) 2. Use of indirect data rather than direct to develop hypotheses that then guide treatment (IISCA). Additionally, many practitioners simply cannot conduct analog FA’s in many if not most applied settings. This session will describe alternative procedures and methods that focus on direct experimental tests that can be conducted in the context of home and school settings. These methods involve direct tests of consequence effects on topographies of behavior similar to the actual problem behavior. This results in the clinician having objective data on the reinforcing effects of stimuli without needing to directly reinforce potentially dangerous/injurious topographies of behavior. An advantage of such procedures is that they involve simultaneous establishment of appropriate alternative behaviors as part of the assessment procedures. Additionally, the collection and use of objective data to develop hypotheses of function enables clinicians to avoid having to test all potential functions, and focus only on those that actually occur. This efficiency may speed access to effective treatment over more laborious subjective methods. The proposed methodology provides a more ethical, conceptually systematic, and practical assessment of function.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ross is the Senior Vice President of Treatment Efficacy and Graduate Education at Beacon ABA Services of Massachusetts and Connecticut. He received his Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University and his Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Ross oversees all research activity at Beacon. He also provides direct and consultation services to families, schools and educational programs throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is a founding member and current Past President of the Massachusetts Association for Applied Behavior Analysis. Dr. Ross is also the President of the Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) of ABAI, and has served three terms on the ABAI Practice Board.

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18 reviews for Practical and Ethical Methodologies for Assessing Function of Problematic Behaviors in the Natural Environment

Based on 18 reviews
1-5 of 18 reviews
  1. Avatar

    Very informative and provided effective examples from the study. Definitely a new way to think of assessing problem behavior that is efficient and safe.

    (1) (0)
  2. Avatar

    I needed CEUs in Ethics. This offered me one CEU.

    (0) (1)
  3. Avatar

    I LOVE the idea of analyzing the function of positive behavior instead of trying to trigger the problems.

    (0) (0)
  4. Avatar

    Very informative!

    (0) (0)
  5. Avatar

    Good presentation. Gives suggestions on different alternative assessments to run in a variety of settings.

    (0) (0)

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Dr. Robert Ross
Practical and Ethical Methodologies for Assessing Function of Problematic Behaviors in the Natural Environment
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