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The primary objective of this research is to evaluate the escalating sequence of behavior that culminates in severe problem behavior (SPB, such as aggression, self-injury, and disruption). To do so, we will investigate the precursors of SPB, which are defined as behaviors that are not as severe or dangerous as SPB, but that reliably precede the occurrence of SPB. Identifying and knowing about these precursors has the potential to complement existing behavioral treatments, making treatments safer (because SPB may occur to a lesser extent or not at all). However, existing research on precursors has been opportunistic and lacks systematic study. This research will examine methods to identify and better understand precursors.
The primary objective of this research is to evaluate the escalating sequence of behavior that culminates in severe problem behavior (SPB, such as aggression, self-injury, and disruption). To do so, the investigators will investigate the precursors of SPB, which are defined as behaviors that are not as severe or dangerous as SPB, but that reliably precede the occurrence of SPB. Identifying and knowing about these precursors has the potential to complement existing behavioral treatments, making treatments safer (because SPB may occur to a lesser extent or not at all). However, existing research on precursors has been opportunistic and lacks systematic study. This research will examine methods to identify and better understand precursors.
In Aim 1, researchers will conduct second-by-second review of videos when participants engage in SPB and identify behaviors that reliably precede SPB. The research team will then conduct quantitative analysis of these behaviors that precede SPB to identify likely precursors. In doing so, researchers will also identify the environmental factors that give rise to and maintain SPB (the reinforcer).
In Aim 2, the investigators will experimentally confirm that the likely precursors identified in Aim 1 are precursors to SPB by examining how both behaviors change across two different conditions that researchers arrange for the participants to experience. First, investigators will examine these behaviors in a contingent reinforcement condition, in which the investigators provide reinforcer for each instance of the precursor. Second, researchers will examine these behavior, in a noncontingent reinforcement condition, in which the researchers provide the reinforcer on a time based schedule. A behavior will be identified as a precursor if it occurs only in the same context as SPB (i.e., the contingent reinforcement condition) and not in other conditions (i.e., the noncontingent reinforcement condition).
AIM 3: The research team will identify whether the precursor is a member of a response class (two behaviors that have same goal) or whether the precursor is part of a behavioral chain (a sequence of behaviors where each is required before the next can occur) culminating in SPB by examining how SPB changes when investigators block the occurrence of the precursor (i.e., physically prevent the precursor from occurring) but provide the reinforce for SPB. If SPB occurs when the precursor is blocked, researchers conclude the precursor is part of a response class. If the SPB does not occur when the precursor is blocked, the investigators will conclude the precursor is part of a response chain.
Each recruited individual will participate in Aim 1. Based on our pilot data and the published literature, the researchers hypothesize that approximately 80% of individuals will have a behavior that occurs frequently before SPB, relative to how often this behavior occurs in general. Based on pilot data and published literature, the researchers hypothesize these likely precursors will be verified to be a precursor to SPB 80% of the time in Aim 2. For all individuals where a precursor verified in Aim 2, investigators will block the occurrence of this behavior (physically prevent this behavior from occurring) and assess the effects on SPB.
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Enrolling by invitation
Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger, Inc.
Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-09-26T05:42:45-0400
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