Ongoing Research Projects

This lab focuses on the development and refinement of behavioral assessment, behavioral treatment, and skill acquisition procedures for children with developmental disabilities, including autism. We have some studies running that involve assessment of behavior disorders, intervention for behavior disorders, and skill acquisition via shaping and chaining. Previous sources of funding for the our research include NICHD.

Child Resistance to Essential Health Care and Hygiene Routines

The purpose of this study is to identify the prevalence of children who have difficulty cooperating with essential healthcare routines (e.g., haircuts, dental examinations, eye examinations, etc.) and/or hygiene routines (e.g., tooth brushing, toileting, bathing, etc.) either with professionals in the community or caregivers at home.

An Evaluation of Skill Acquisition Procedures

This study is evaluating instructional practices used to teach imitation to young children with developmental disabilities and the features which might influence acquisition.

Responding to Name in Children with Autism: An Evaluation of Methods for Training, Generalization, and Maintenance

This study aims to evaluate methods for increasing responding to name in children with a diagnosis of autism, for whom this behavior is a common intervention goal. We are also evaluating how to arrange for the greatest generalization and maintenance of this behavior. Comparisons of responding between typically developing children and children with autism are also being conducted.

A Replication of the Displacement of Leisure Items by Food During Preference Assessments

Prior research has demonstrated that when food and leisure items (i.e., toys) are combined in a preference assessment for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, these individuals tend to exclusively select food items first. However, the same may not hold true in a contemporary population of children with autism in early intervention settings. Such results could have implications for assumed best practices regarding reinforcer selection in these settings.

An Evaluation of Functional Analysis Conditions for Assessing Inappropriate Mealtime Behavior

The purpose of this study is to directly compare rates of inappropriate mealtime behavior across variations in functional analysis conditions on a within-subject basis. Specifically, the current study aims to evaluate whether presenting a nonpreferred food on a plate versus a spoon serves to influence problem behavior in this assessment.

Generalization Effects of a Nonremoval of the Spoon Procedure

The purpose of the current project is to examine whether implementation of a nonremoval of the spoon procedure leads to consumption of foods that are similar or dissimilar to the treatment food. This project also aims to evaluate changes in preference following treatment.

Assessing and Improving Quality of Care in an Autism Clinic

This study is a replication of Zarcone et al. (1993) and Shore et al. (1995), which used direct observation to evaluate quality of care in residential facilities and nursing homes. Given the growing number of ABA service providers, autism clinics might be a new area in which assessing quality of care indicators could be very important. Following the assessment, interventions will be developed in order to address identified areas of concern.

Evaluating Variations of Multiple Schedules

This study is evaluating variations of multiple schedules to determine the optimal method of reducing high-rate requests of individuals following functional communication training.

A Quantitative Evaluation of Caregiver Training

This study aims to apply the matching framework to a caregiver training model to provide a more fine-grained explanation of the process that occurs throughout caregiver training. The matching analysis should accurately describe response allocation between appropriate and inappropriate behavior for individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities.

An Evaluation of the Effects of Interviewer Behavior on Children’s Reports of Past Events

Evaluating Signaled Availability on Proloquo2Go(TM)

The use of multiple schedules has been shown to be effective at reducing high rates of manding for individuals who use picture exchange cards. However, these procedures have yet to be demonstrated to be effective with new communication technologies such as iPads and similar devices. This study is a “proof of concept” to determine whether the use of multiple schedules can be effectively used with the communication application Proloquo2Go (TM).

An Analysis of Toilet Training Procedures Recommended for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

The purpose of this study is to evaluate components that are typically used in toilet training procedures for children but in this case for children with autism spectrum disorders. Typically, components that are presented and altered in a toilet training package are sit schedule, underwear vs. diapers (or pull ups), and differential reinforcement.

Florida Autism Center Peer Review

BARC provides peer review services to Florida Autism Centers across the state. Peer reviewers evaluate and update written Treatment Plans of Care (TPCs), skill acquisition programs, and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) for problematic behaviors. Evaluating and monitoring these plans includes monitoring mastered programs and error logs, monitoring and analyzing data from problematic behavior and reviewing interventions in collaboration with BCBAs, writing program recommendations, collaborating and communicating with BCBAs, primary therapists, and teams, ensuring that graphing is up to date, and ensuring programs are being run consistently and appropriately by observing and providing feedback to teams.

A Method for Conducting Longitudinal Functional Analyses in Autism

Functional analysis (FA) is a tool that is used to identify the function of problematic behavior. Historically, FAs have reinforced problem behavior and placed appropriate behavior on extinction. However, this might obscure any appropriate skills that the child might possess, which might result in reinforcing problem behavior that has not occurred for some time and also might not represent the natural environment. By reinforcing appropriate behavior as well, we can still identify a sensitivity to certain types of reinforcement while avoiding these negatives. By conducting FAs across an extended period of time we can also observe the emergence of problem behavior, appropriate alternatives, and stereotypic play in children with autism.