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The effects of ABA strategies on challenging behavior among adults with high functioning autism

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Maya G Jimenez
Abstract:
Challenging behaviors such as noncompliance and perseveration can create significant challenges for adults with high functioning autism. The scientific database is limited with respect to behavioral interventions for adults who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The purpose of the study was to utilize applied behavior analysis's (ABA) strategies consisting of reinforcement, choice-making, and extinction to determine their effects on challenging behavior among five adults. This was accomplished through the use of a single-subject design and reversal methodology. The findings led to a decrease in noncompliance and an increase in compliance among four study participants. However, the behavioral intervention had no effect on perseverative behaviors as exhibited by one study participant.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements……………………………………… …

iv

List of Tables ..……………………………………………….

vi

List of Figures………………………………………………..

vii

CHAPTER 1. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Introduction to the Problem ………..…………. ……… .

1

Backgrou nd of the Problem …………………………… .

3

Statement of the Problem

……………………………….

7

Purpose of the Study ………………………………….…

7

Research Questions ………………………………….…..

9

Hypotheses ……………………………………………...

9

Rationale, Relevance, and Significance …………………

1 0

Natur e of the Study ……………………………………

11

Assumptio ns and Limitations...…………………………

1 2

CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction to the Literature ……………………………..

16

Theoretical Framework………………………………..….

1 6

Crucial Theoretical/Conceptual Debates ………………….

2 0

Bridging the Gaps …………………………………………

20

Review of the Critical Literature…………………………..

21

Evaluation of Viable Research Design ………… …... .........

27

Chapter 2 Summary …………………………………… ….

27

vi

CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY

Introduction

….……………………………………………

29

Researcher’s Philosophy …………………… …………….

30

Research Design Model……………… ……………………

31

Research Design Strategy……………………………… .…

32

Sampling Design …………………………………………

33

Measures ………………..…… ……………………………

3 5

Data C ollection Procedures ……….………………………

35

Data Analysis Procedures ……………… …………………

36

Limitation of Methodology……………………………… .

37

Expected Find ings…………………………………………

40

Ethical Issues ……………………………………………...

40

Chapter 3 Summary ………………………………… …….

43

CHAPTER 4. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSI S

Introduction……………………………………………… .

4 5

Description of the Sample …………………………………

46

Details of the Analysis………………………………………

63

Description of the Results…………………………………..

63

Conclusion………………………………………………….

70

CHAPTER 5. RESULTS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMEN DATIONS

Introduction………………………………………………

72

Summary of the Results…………………………………..

73

vii

Discussion of the Results…………………………………

7 7

Discussion of the Conclusions……………………………

81

Limitations………………………………………………..

85

Recommendations for Future Research… ………………..

87

Conclusion………………………………………………..

88

REFERENCES ……………………… ……………… ……………

91

APPENDIX: Behavior Interview

Questions …… ……… …… …. .. 96

viii

List of Tables

Table 1.

Description of the Sample…………………………………… .. ……… . . .48

Table 2.

Tar get Behaviors for each Participant………………………………… ...58

Table 3.

The Intervention consisting of extinction, choice, and reinforcement… ..60

Table 4.

Participants’ Performance during Baseline and Intervention Conditions … 6 4

ix

List of

Figures

Figure 1. Max’s Noncompliant Behaviors ……………………………………..……65

Figure 2.

Lauren’s Noncompl iant Behaviors …………………………………… . … . 66

Figure 3.

John’s Noncompliant Behaviors ……………………………………… .. … 66

Figure 4.

Mark’s Perseverative Behaviors ………………………………………….. 67

Figure 5. Edward’s Noncompli ant Behaviors ……………………………………… . 6 7

1

CHAPTER 1. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Introduction to the Problem

A group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are associated with neurodevelopmental

causes (Matson & Rivet, 200 7 ) . Persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) show substantial impairments in the social

and

language

domains

and may engage in stereotypic and challenging behaviors.

ASDs can often be detected

as early as 18 months (―Autism Information Center‖, 2008) .

Diagnosti c classification ranges from severe to mild.

Persons who have been diagnosed with severe ASDs in childhood continue to meet criteria for ASDs well into adulthood (Billstedt, Gillberg, & Gillberg, 2007) .

The mild ranges are referred to as high functioning

autism (HFA) (Eaves & Ho, 2008).

Persons with HFA can have normal IQ scores of 70 or higher and still show sign ificant impairments (Cuccaro et al., 2007; Kleinhans, Akshoomoff, & Delis, 2005; Thede & Coolidge, 2007) .

The behavioral impairments exhibited

by persons with HFA include language and social challenges as well as challenging stereotypic patterns of behavior.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a widely utilized treatment option for persons in the autistic spectrum

( Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007 ; Schreck & Mazur,

2008) . In fact, ABA as an intervention option has been referred to as a treatment of choice f or individuals with ASD (Cooper et al., 2007; Schreck & Mazur, 2008).

This is because ABA benefits from scientific support in the treatment of

persons in the autistic spectrum (Schreck & Mazur).

Schreck and Mazur (2008) accentuate ABA as a scientifically validated option to treat persons within the spectrum and this has contributed to its popular use.

2

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) derived fro m behavioral theory.

B.F. Skinner contributed to behavioral theory then to ABA in significant ways

(Cooper

et al. ,

2007).

Specifically, Skinner’s work contributed to ABA’s fundamental principles

such as positive and negative reinforcement

(Neuman, 2006 ) .

These have led to strategies which are evidence - based interventions in ABA.

ABA strategies conducive to the treatment of individuals with ASDs include reinforcement, choice - making, and extinction

(Cooper et al., 2007).

From the perspective of ABA, ant ecedent and consequential variables are manipulated into an experimental functional analysis of behavior

(Najdowski, Wallace, Ellsworth, MacAleese, & Cleveland, 2008) .

In this case, independent and dependent variables are empirically arranged to investiga te behavior - environment contingencies (Cooper

et al. , 2007).

A s such, challenging be haviors are evoked and measured.

Repeated occurrences of such manipulations yield to measures which are utilized to determine the functions of problem behavior

(Najdowski

et al . , 2008 ).

Subsequently, this information is utilized to assess and treat the behavioral concerns.

For the purpose of the current research proposal, certain behavioral characteristics associa ted with ASD

will be considered and high functioning auti sm (HFA) w ill be the focus . The behavioral characteristics to be measured will be categorized into either challenging behaviors or adaptive behaviors.

These two classes of behaviors will be referred to as target behaviors.

The challenging beh avior categ ory will include non compliance and defiance , non - preferred tasks, and social impairments.

Non - preferred tasks are associated with cleanliness

such as brushing t eeth, bathing, shampooing, etc.

and domestic

tasks

include

washing dishes, laundry, cooking, an d cleaning.

Social impairments include inappropriate emotional responsiveness, lack

3

of interest to make and/or sustain friendships, and inappropriate and/or limited interactions with others.

Background of the Problem

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterize d

in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

(APA, 2000) as a spectrum of disorders in whi ch discrete deficits are present in the social and communication domains . Autism is a debilitati ng neurodevelopmental disorder accompan ied by behavioral challenges ( Bernier,

Dawson, Panagiotides,

& Webb , 2005).

For example, p eople with communication problems find it difficult to articulate their needs and wants.

Furthermore, a ccording to Matson an d Rivet (200 7 ) persons with ASD

often ex perience limiting living conditions.

These challenging behaviors and other grave consequences can continue into adulthood (Matson & Rivet).

However, b efore the 1980s, therapeutic interventions for challenging

behaviors varied significantly

and treatment efficacy for ASD

was inconclusive (Callahan, Henson & Cowan, 2008).

For example, attempting to eliminate these difficult behaviors through some reductive techniques (e.g. punitive measures) would leave these individuals with no options for engaging in ada ptive behaviors including ways of expressing their needs and desires (Durand & Merges, 2001).

Thus in some cases, challenging behavior prolonged, and other adaptive responses were not made available.

Cases of autistic spectrum disorders have increased

d rastically since 1992 to approximately 805% in the United States (Schreck & Mazur, 2008).

A definite explanation for such significant increase has not been established.

However, possible explanations may be related to misdiagnoses, environmental, neurode velopmental, and genetic factors.

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism and it is

4

more common in boys than girls.

Furthermore, ASD ’ s

etiology is believed to be associated with neurodevelopmenta l factors (Matson & Rivet, 200 7 ).

According to Magaña

and Smith (2006), behavioral challenges continue over the life course of individuals as they engage in their natural environments such as thei r home, school, and communities.

T hese individuals genera lly need some level of care throughout adulthood (Magaña & Smith).

Still, there have been significant ameliorating o utcomes with early intervention

in childhood years .

For this reason, numerous studies addressing ASDs in childhood have focused on early i ntervention ( Billstedt et al. , 2007; Matson, Wilkins, & Ancona, 2008 ).

In fact, t here are numerous empirical studies addressing autism in children.

Additionally, there is agreement in the autism literature of the symptoms that constitute the disorder in childhood years (Matson & Rivet, 200 7 ).

This has led to evidence - based behavioral interventions.

A pplied behavior analysis (ABA)

is among the most widely used

(Matson & D empsey, 2008).

Since there has

been great success with early interventions with chi ldren with ASD, researchers have focused significantly on the identification

and treatment

as early as possible in young children (Matson & Dempsey, 2008).

This knowledgebase is important for practitioners in applied settings.

Thus over the years, the as sessment, treatment, and prognosis of ASD have improved significantly.

Still, since most of the focus has been place on childhood years, it appears that the field has neglected adults in the spectrum.

There is minimal information of the condition’s symp tomology, assessment, and treatment in adulthood (Eaves & Ho, 2008).

Information illustrative of the condition’s progression, from childhood to adulthood, is limited in the field

as well .

One is left to wonder about the coping mechanisms, ameliorating fa ctors, and prognosis of the child’s future life.

There is a need for empirical studies of ASD in adulthood (Billstedt et al. ,

5

2007; Eaves & Ho, 2008; Matson, Wilkins, & Ancona, 2008).

The current research proposal therefore seeks to investigate this real m.

The study might offer insight for practitioners in applied settings.

As such, ameliorating efforts may be

facilitated as they work, collaborate, and develop treatment plans for individuals with autism.

Moreover, this knowledge would increase the rese arch on high functioning autism (HFA) among adults.

The condition of high function autism (HFA) has been a topic of increasing interest among researchers

(Kleinhans et al., 2005) .

Persons who have a diagnosis of HFA typically score higher than persons wi th severe autism on cognitive measures.

Still, they show impairments in delineating cognitive processes.

The cognitive process is affected but the specifications of this deficit vary in the literature.

The complexity of HFA is further obscured by a mult itude of complex and influential factors including biological and environmental conditions.

It is important to note that each person with an ASD needs a treatment program to meet his or her individual needs .

Often, these include behavioral interventions

such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) ( Callahan

et al. , 2008).

In order to address excessive behavioral challenges, some researches focused their studies on decreasing instances of challenging behaviors while increasing adaptive behaviors

(Neidert, Iwa ta, & Dozier, 2005).

To accomplish this, some ABA strategies have been empirically utilized.

These include reinforcement, choice - making, extinction, and others (Neidert

et al., 2005).

For example, providing choice options for individuals with disabilitie s can determine if the individual will engage in challenging behavior.

In effect, providing options for selection can increase on - task behaviors (Tasky, Rudrud, Schulze, & Ra pp, 2008).

Another effect of offering choices is that it tends to decrease chall enging behaviors

(Tasky et al., 2008).

Furthermore, these researchers have indicated that choice as an intervention is ―cost - and - time - efficient‖ (pg. 263).

6

Therefore, the current research proposal seeks to examine the effects of ABA strategies on challen ging behavior.

More specifically, the purpose of this study is to examine the effects of reinforcement, choices, and extinction (ABA strategies) on challenging behaviors and adaptive behaviors (target behaviors) among adults with high functioning autism ( HFA).

In the current study, the behaviors to be measured are categorized into challenging behaviors and adaptive behaviors.

These two classes of behaviors will be referred to as target behaviors.

The challenging behavior categ ory will include non comp liance, defiance ,

non - preferred tasks, and social impairments.

Non compliance is defined as failure to follow a direction while continuing to engage in unrelated activity.

Defiance is defined as not acknowledging another’s request or disregarding it while

emitting high picked sounds and stomping one’s foot on the floor with force.

Non - preferred tasks are hygiene (brushing teeth, bathing, shampooing, etc.) and household tasks

( washing dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning ) .

Social

impairments include unu sual emotional respon ses , lack of interest to initiate friendships, and limited interactions with others.

A daptive behaviors category consists of the same behaviors but in the opposite continuum.

As such, for the purpose of this study, adaptive behaviors are compliance, non - hostile responses, appropriate hygiene and grooming, occurrences of dish washing, laundry, cooking, and cleaning.

Adaptive social behaviors include appropriate emotional responsiveness, interest to make and/or sustain friendships, and appropriate social interactions with others.

These behaviors will be measured to determine whether or not the intervention caused a change

in the rates of responding .

7

Statement of the Problem

Challenging behaviors generally lead to conflict among person s with ASD.

The difficult y in circumstances and intensity vary per individual.

Each participant’s behavior is unique.

Thus, challenging behavior will be based on personal and behavioral needs . These are referred to as target behaviors.

Once determined , each behavior will be operationally defined

for each study participant .

Accordingly, the problem to be addressed in this study is the challenge associated with problem behavior exhibited among adults with ASD

whose motivating functions are tangible, att ention, and/or escape from demands.

The scientific knowledge base needs empirical studies that include adults as study participants (Eaves & Ho, 2008).

Eaves and Ho indicate that there is evidence that persons with high functioning autism (HFA) are more li kely to improve from behavioral interventions.

However in a recent investigation, the researchers concluded that there appears to be no universal accordance as to how HFA should be defined and thereby treated (Cederlund, Hagberg, & Billstedt, 2008).

In e ffect, the knowledgebase is limited with respect to adults in the autistic spectrum and therefore merits analysis.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to apply a behavioral intervention to analy ze

the effects of reinforcement, choice - making , and extinction on challenging behaviors which are sustained

by tangible

rewards , attention, and escape from demands .

A f unctional analysis will be performed with each participant to determine the motivating functions and aid in determining whether or no t challenging behaviors decrease and adaptive behaviors increase.

As such, the b ehavioral intervention consists of reinforcement, choice options, and extinction (ABA strategies) to address behavioral concerns (target behaviors).

Choice options will be pr ovided and t he

8

response that follows will either be reinforced or not reinforced.

If the response that follows is associated with either tangible

or attention

as motivating functions, it

will be extinguished.

In this case, the requested tangible s

will no t be provided (items will removed) and attention not be given (ignored).

If the response that follows is associated with an escape function then the response will be redirected and/or prompted until performed.

In this case, the escape from demands will n ot be reinforced , instead it will be extinguished.

For example, participants will be provided with options for choice and appropriate responses ,

related to tangibles and attention, will be reinforced (e.g. praised) while inappropriate responses will be p rompted, redirected, and/or extinguished ( ignored ).

When presented with choices, an appropriate response is the selection of one of the options.

An i nappropriate response

is the absence of making a selection.

I nstead ,

responses that follow might include

non - compliance, defiance, and/or social inappropriateness.

In this case the behavioral intervention, consisting of ABA strategies, is referred to as the independent variable.

Each element of the independent variable will be operationally defined and a clear explanation will be developed during the functional analysis and prior to the implementation of the intervention.

Likewise, the dependent variable is the target behaviors.

That is, the challenging beh avior category and will include non compliance an d defiance , non - preferred tasks, and social impairments.

Non - preferred tasks are hygiene (brushing teeth, bathing, shampooing, etc.) and household tasks

( washing dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning ) .

Social impairments include inappropriate emotional responsiveness, lack of interest to make and/or sustain friendships, and inappropriate and/or limited interactions with others.

Functional analysis is a systematic experimental analysis in which antecedent and consequential variables are manipulated to de termine motivating functions of challenging

9

behavior (Cooper et al. , 2007).

Functions to be examined in the current study include engagement of challenging behavior to gain attention from others, to gain access to tangibles, and /or to escape from demands .

Antecedents are any responses occurring immediately prior to the target behaviors.

Consequences are any responses occurring immediately after the target behaviors.

During manipulation of these variables, behaviors will be recorded.

The functional ana lysis is conducted in the individuals’ natural environment such as home, work, and/or community.

Research Questions

1.

To what extent do reinforcement, choice - making and extinction conditions influence challenging behavior among adults with high functioning

autism (HFA)

whose challenging behaviors are maintained by attention, access to tangibles, and escapes from demands?

2.

T o what extent, if any, will reinforcement, choice - making and extinction decrease challenging behavior among adults whose challenging be haviors are maintained by attention, access to tangibles, and escapes from demands?

3.

To what extent do reinforcement, choice - making and extinction conditions influence adaptive behaviors?

4.

Additionally, to what extent, if any, will reinforcement, choice - making and extinction increase adaptive behaviors among adults whose challenging behaviors are maintained by attention, access to tangibles, and escapes from demands?

Hypotheses

For the purpose of the current research proposal, high functioning autism (HF A) will be the focus.

The behaviors to be measured will be categorized into either challenging behaviors or

10

adaptive behaviors.

These two classes of behaviors will be referred to as target behaviors.

The challenging beh avior category will include non com pliance and defiance , non - preferred tasks, and social impairments.

Non - preferred tasks are hygiene and household tasks such as washing dishes, laundry, cooking, and

cleaning. Social impairments include inappropriate emotional responsiveness, lack of inter est to make friendships, and inappropriate and/or limited interactions with others.

The adaptive behavior category will consist of the same behaviors but in the opposite continuum ( i.e.

compliance, non - hostile responses, appropriate hygiene and grooming, o ccurrences of dish washing, laundry, cooking, and cleaning).

1.

It is hypothesized that challenging behaviors are influenced by reinforcement, choice - making and extinction.

2.

It is hypothesized that challenging behaviors, among adults with HFA, are maintained

by attention, access to tangibles, and/or escape from demands.

3.

I t is hypothesized that reinforcement, choice - making and extinction will lead to a decrease in challenging behavior.

4.

Furthermore, it is hypothesized that adaptive behaviors which are maint ained by attention, access to tangibles, and/or escape from demands will increase.

5.

Moreover, it is hypothesized that the absence of reinforcement, choice - making and extinction conditions will lead challenging behavior to return to, or approximate, baseli ne levels.

Rationale, Relevance, and Significance of the Proposed Study

The literature ,

relevant to autism research, remains inconclusive pertaining to adults, rather than children and youth, with assessment and treatment options

(Eaves & Ho, 2008).

The literature is limited and little information is known about autistic symptomology in adulthood.

11

Moreover, limited information is available to learn about the transition , from childhood to adulthood , and coping mechanisms.

As such, researchers indicate th e need for future studies to address this gap in the literature knowledgebase (Cooper

et al. ,

2007; Eaves & Ho).

Consequently, the proposed study seeks to pursue this

recommendation.

Strategies associated with applied behavior analysis (ABA) will be util ized as an intervention with persons with high functioning autism (HFA).

The findings would contribute to the gap in the literatu re knowledgebase.

Moreover, findings

might offer insight to practitioners who provide services to individuals within the auti stic spectrum in applied settings.

Furthermore, the proposed study is relevant to the counseling profession.

This is because counselors providing treatment services in applied settings are devoted to the understanding and improvement of psychological di stress ( Cooper

et al. , 2007 ).

For example, the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (ACA, 2005) places the clients’ welfare among the highest standards of counselors.

Regarding research, counselors have an ethical responsibility to initiate and /or actively participate in research that will lead to the understanding of conditions that may improve one’s life (ACA).

Moreover , counselors are ethically responsible to participate in research that will advance the knowledgebase of the profession (ACA) .

Section G, of the ACA Code of Ethics (2005),

relates to counselor s

and research and it is used to substantiate this point.

Finally , human service providers are ethically responsible to improve the welfare of individuals they treat and intervene to impr ove debilitating conditions (APA Code of Ethics, 2002).

Nature of the Study

Given the topic ,

the researcher will utilize a single - subject experimental research

design .

Five (5) to eight (8) participants will be recruited to participate in the study.

P articipants will be

12

randomly sele c ted from a list generated by a

behavioral and mental health center in southern California .

This

center fund s

and coordinate behavioral and cognitive services to individuals in the autistic spectrum.

The resea rcher will c ontact the

behavioral and mental health center in southern California

to recruit the participants.

This center welcomes research projects, and given certain prerequisites, can generate a list of consumers.

The prerequisite documents include

a succinct bu t complete research topic, inclusion criteria, the school’s approval of the research proposal, consent forms, and the Internal Review Board’s (IRB) approval.

The inclusion criteria are participants who can speak English, are 18 years of age

or older , diag nosis of autism ,

IQ score of at least 70,

and are living at home.

The consent forms are to be used with the participants and supervising adults.

The researcher will provide the needed prerequisites

in order to obtain the list

from the center .

These and other related

matters , including ethical concerns, will be discussed in greater detail in the methodology section of the current proposal.

The design will incorporate the baseline logic and the reversal treatment design.

Baseline logic yields to predicti on, verification, and replication ( Cooper

et al., 2007 ).

This design appears appropriate for various reasons.

Verification indicates that observed behavioral changes are due to the independent variable.

This is accomplished with alternations between tre atment and no - treatment conditions.

Thus, implementation of the independent variable yield to specific behavior while removal of the independent variable yield to different specific responses.

Finally, replication relates to repeated independent variable

manipulations that can serve to strengthen the experimental control.

Assumptions and Limitations

Behavior is

emitted to serve a fun ction or purpose for the person. Behaviors may function to gain attention from others, to gain access to tangibles, and to escape from demands.

13

The identification of the function (s) is essential for the formulation of

the treatment process (Neidert et al., 2005).

Furthermore , a person’s behavior i s

directly linked to his/her learning history or behavioral repertoire.

Ac cording to Cooper

et al. (2007) behavior is selected, shaped, and maintained by the consequences that have followed it in the past.

Accordingly, the maintaining functions to be analyzed in the current study are attention, access to tangibles, and escape f rom demands.

When a person is seeking the attention of

another individual his/her behavior serves the function of gaining attention.

When a person is seeking to obtain access to items or activities, his/her behavior serves the function of access to tangi bles.

Similarly , when a person’s behavior is emitted to avoid certain activities, his/her behaviors serve the function of escape from demands

(Butler & Luiselli, 2007) .

As such ,

the proposed study assumes that behaviors pursue

logic, serve a function, an d that higher functioning autism can be assumed if the participants’

IQ scores are at least 70.

Likewise, the limitations of the study relate to gender matters, behavioral repertoires , cultural backgrounds, research design, and the participants’ IQ scores .

Assumptions

Consistent with applied behavior analysis (ABA), it is assumed that behaviors follow logic and therefore do not simply occur without environmental stimuli ( Cooper et al., 2007 ).

Further, it is assumed that challenging behavior s are mainta ined to serve a function or purpose for the individual

(Neidert

et al., 2005) .

Determining the function can be accomplished through empirical testing

(Najdowski et al., 2008) .

Thus, a functional analysis will be conducted to determine maintaining functio ns.

Lastly, it is asserted

that persons with HFA will have an IQ score ranging

between 70

and

100.

Such assertion appears frequently

in the literature and i s

14

made by pioneers in the field .

This includes

the work of Cuccaro

et al.

( 2007 ), Kleinhans et al .

( 2005 ), and Thede and Coolidge

( 2007 ) .

Limitations

A potential limitation may be related to gender matters.

As such, female participants might have been taught to perform and accept household tasks as typical day - to - day activities.

Males on th e other hand might have been taught to give priority to other activities such as grooming and hygiene rather than household tasks.

Thus, learned patterns and behavioral repertoires vary among participants and behavioral repertoires might influence the stu dy’s outcomes thereby posing a limitation to the study.

A related limitation may be associated with cultural backgrounds.

In this case once more, behavioral patterns vary leading to different behavioral repertoires among participants.

As such, life acti vities take different patterns based on cultural and socially accepted ways.

Just as the gender matter might, this condition can influence the study’s outcomes.

Another potential limitation is associated with the research design.

That is, single -

s ubje ct design is associated with limitations

involving the study’s

external validity.

As such , repeated experimental conditions performed on one (or a few) participant yield to data specific to that participant (s)

(Tankersley, Cook, & Cook ,

2008).

Due

to th e small number of participants, findings might be applicable to the study’s participants specifically and not necessarily to the study’s population.

Given the small number of participants, findings may not be generalized to others in the population, there by limiting the study’s external validity.

Finally, the assumption

taken from Cuccaro et al.

( 2007 ), Kleinhans et al.

( 2005 ), and Thede and Coolidge

( 2007 )

that individuals with HFA have IQ scores ranging from 70 to 100 is also a potential threat to the s tudy.

Without actually testing intelligence, previously provided information may be flawed.

In

15

effect, it is assumed that the individual IQ scores provided by the center are accurate.

These possible limitations will be carefully considered during the de sign.

For example, Tankersley et al. (2008 ) offers some suggestions.

These include increasing the number of participants, applying the independent variable in different settings , and utilizing novel materials in the study.

Moreover, all target behaviors

will be operationally defined.

16

CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction to the Literature Review

The objective of this study is to analyze the effects of ABA strategies on challenging behavior to determine whether or not challenging behavior decreases among adults with high functioning autism (HFA).

Likewise, the effects of ABA strategies will be measured to determine if adaptive behaviors increased.

Full document contains 107 pages
Abstract: Challenging behaviors such as noncompliance and perseveration can create significant challenges for adults with high functioning autism. The scientific database is limited with respect to behavioral interventions for adults who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The purpose of the study was to utilize applied behavior analysis's (ABA) strategies consisting of reinforcement, choice-making, and extinction to determine their effects on challenging behavior among five adults. This was accomplished through the use of a single-subject design and reversal methodology. The findings led to a decrease in noncompliance and an increase in compliance among four study participants. However, the behavioral intervention had no effect on perseverative behaviors as exhibited by one study participant.