Thesis

Effects of an intervention for students with autism: functional behavioral assessments and consultation

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) consists of a continuum of behaviors, such as communication, sensory, and social deficits. Students with ASD may demonstrate problem behaviors, such as physical aggression and self-injurious behaviors that interfere with their educational program. The current study examined the effectiveness of a preselected treatment package consisting of a Social Story, reinforcement icons, and communication system within a public school setting. The behavior intervention was selected because of its popularity and relative empirical validation for ASD. Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) were used to further individualize the intervention based on the function of behavior. Four adolescents with (ASD) were purposefully selected for physical aggression or self-injurious behavior in a multiple-baseline, across individuals single-subject design. Additionally, the experimenter used a pre-post measure of a teacher/parent interview and behavior rating scale. A consumer satisfaction survey was administered to teachers and parents at the end of the study to measure social validity of the consultation model and behavior intervention. The COMP ASS model specific for ASD was used to develop comprehensive Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs). In addition, it identified student needs, interests, and strengths. Results of event recording logs of 20-minute observations indicated that the 2 high school students' self-injurious behaviors decreased by 64% and 25%, respectively. Those results suggest moderately significant behavior change. Aggressive behaviors of the 2 middle school students decreased by 75% and 50%, respectively, indicating a significant change in behavior. Results of the consumer satisfaction survey indicated that the COMP ASS model and treatment package was useful and effective for students with ASD. Limited resources and instructional support for teachers and students associated with curriculum, assistive technology, and occupational therapy services impacted the results of this study. Further educational research is warranted in investigating the comprehensive effects of behavioral interventions in meeting the intricate educational needs of students with ASD. District-wide systemic factors of functional curriculum, assistive technology, and community-based resources need to be investigated. Given the brief duration of this study (10-weeks), future research is needed to further replicate the effectiveness of school-based consultation, and examine the role of school psychologists in achieving meaningful and socially valid behavioral outcomes.

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