Behavioral Treatments

Introduction

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders exhibit a range of behavioral excesses and deficits that can interfere significantly with adaptive functioning at home, in the community, and at school. At times these challenging behaviors can cause harm to others or to the person with autism, and often contribute both to isolation and misunderstanding of the needs of the individual. Over the past 40 years a robust evidence-based research and clinical literature has contributed substantially to our understanding of the nature, causes, analysis, and intervention of these behavioral challenges, and the careful application of these practices has led to significant changes in the behavioral presentation and long-term habilitation outcomes of persons with ASD.

This lecture introduces the foundations of behavioral assessment and treatment of significant challenging behavior in persons with autism. The assessment and intervention principles discussed are firmly grounded in the behavior analytic research literature, and have enjoyed widespread clinical application with a diverse range of behaviors including aggression, self-injury, stereotypy, property destruction, and pica. Following a detailed discussion of the use of the technology of functional analysis, those variables and conditions in the environment that maintain challenging behavior are discussed in relation to the development of treatment plans that are functional, based on positive behavior supports, and that teach more adaptive prosocial behavioral repertoires. The lecture concludes with a discussion of clinical and ethical safeguards to protect the rights and dignity of those with autism during treatment.

Featured Reading

Glasberg , B. (2008). Stop that seemingly senseless behavior. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

This excellent, follow-up companion to Functional behavior assessment for people with autism extends the process of understanding challenging behavior, to developing, implementing, and evaluating treatment plans. Detailed guidance is offered on teaching replacement skills, using reinforcement effectively, and creating more adaptive environments that will support better behavior.

Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., and Heyward, W.L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (Second Edition).

This comprehensive text provides the most thorough and up-to-date description of all evidence-based behavioral assessment and treatment procedures available. Universally regarded as the standard in the field, the Second Edition provides a clear and concise description of the technology of behavior change and the research literature supporting specific intervention strategies.

Powers, M.D., Palmieri, M.J., D’Eramo, K.S., & Powers, K.M. (2010). Evidence-based treatment of behavioral excesses and deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. In F. Volkmar, D. Cicchetti, B. Reichow, & P. Doehring (Eds), Evidence-based practices and treatments for children with autism. New York: Springer.

This chapter provides a comprehensive and current review of functional assessment technology, as well as a detailed review of the empirical foundations for some of the most widely used evidence-based treatment procedures for severe behavior problems in those with autism. A special section is devote to the treatment of sleep disorders in children with autism.

Reading List

Below are selected readings from the Behavioral Treatments class meeting as well as a short annotation from Dr. Powers on the reading material and a link to find the reading online or to purchase the book online.

Glassberg, B. (2005 ). Functional behavior assessment for people with autism. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

This easy-to-use guide explains the process of functional behavior assessment (FBA) and its role in treatment planning. It provides an excellent overview of such critical elements of FBA including defining behavior, evaluating the antecedents and precursors of behavior, establishing a baseline, and determining the causes of behavior. The book is an excellent first step in developing positive behavior support plans for a wide range of behavior problems found in those with autism.

Find this book online at the Publisher's website.

Glassberg , B. (2008). Stop that seemingly senseless behavior. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

This excellent, follow-up companion to Functional behavior assessment for people with autism extends the process of understanding challenging behavior, to developing, implementing, and evaluating treatment plans. Detailed guidance is offered on teaching replacement skills, using reinforcement effectively, and creating more adaptive environments that will support better behavior.

Find this book online at the Publisher's website.

Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., and Heyward, W.L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (Second Edition).

This comprehensive text provides the most thorough and up-to-date description of all evidence-based behavioral assessment and treatment procedures available. Universally regarded as the standard in the field, the Second Edition provides a clear and concise description of the technology of behavior change and the research literature supporting specific intervention strategies.

Find this book online at the Publisher's website.

Powers, M.D., Palmieri, M.J., D’Eramo, K.S., & Powers, K.M. (2010). Evidence-based treatment of behavioral excesses and deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. In F. Volkmar, D. Cicchetti, B. Reichow, & P. Doehring (Eds), Evidence-based practices and treatments for children with autism. New York: Springer.

This chapter provides a comprehensive and current review of functional assessment technology, as well as a detailed review of the empirical foundations for some of the most widely used evidence-based treatment procedures for severe behavior problems in those with autism. A special section is devote to the treatment of sleep disorders in children with autism.

Chapters 8, Working With School-Aged Children, Chapter 14, Dealing with Behavior Problems, and Chapter 16, Managing Sensory Issues, from "A Practical Guide to Autism".

Volkmar, Fred; Wiesner, Lisa. "A Practical Guide to Autism". John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey, 2009.

Find this book online at the Publisher's website.

Media and Other Resources

External Resources

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)- Autism Speaks
Social Communication / Emotional Regulation / Transactional Support (SCERTS)- Autism Speaks Autism Speaks gives information on Social Communication/Emotional Regulation/Transactional Support (SCERTS), an educational model that promotes child-initiated communication in everyday activities.

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)- Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks gives information on Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), a systematic approach to improving social skills, adaptability, and self-awareness.

What Is Behavior Analysis?- Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies
An overview of behavior analysis provided by the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.

Symptoms of Autism- Autism Speaks
An overview of the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) provided by Autism Speaks.

Faculty and Guest Bios

Bio Profile

Michael Powers, PsyD

Director, The Center for Children with Special Needs, Glastonbury, CT

Education

PsyD, Rutgers University, 1984

Research Interests

Psychiatry and Psychology

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