Announcement of Ed.D. Proposal Defense Jenna Budge: “Training Practitioners to Conduct Trial Based Functional Analysis with Adults with Autism Using Pyramidal Behavior Skills Training”

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Committee: Dr. Judith Harrison (chair), Dr. Angela O’Donnell, Dr. James Maraventano, Dr. Robert LaRue

Date: February 28, 2023

Time: 2:30pm


As the rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) increase, so does the need to provide high-quality and empirically validated supports across the lifespan. Despite most of an individual’s life taking place in adulthood, it is well-documented that the supports and services for adults with ASD are severely lacking. This is evidenced by outcomes indicating that many adults on the spectrum are unemployed, underemployed, or do not have appropriate services (Cimera et al., 2012; Henninger &Taylor, 2013; Shattuck et al., 2012). Challenging behavior is one of the most significant barriers to accessing community participation and employment. Individuals with ASD who present with challenging behavior require empirically validated methods that lead to function-based treatment (Singh et al., 2019). Trial-based functional analysis (TBFA; Bloom et al., 2011; Sigafoos & Saggers, 1995) is a method of determining the function of behavior that is well-suited to community settings. However, adult services often lack the resources and qualified staff required to conduct specialized assessments, such as TBFAs. There is a need for empirically validated training methodologies (e.g., Behavior Skills Training) coupled with strategies that reduce required resources (pyramidal training) to improve the outcomes for adults with ASD.

The purpose of the current study is to determine if a functional relation exists between: (a) pyramidal Behavior Skills Training (BST) on the training of TBFA conducted by graduate students for center-employed job coaches and (b) the accuracy of implementation of TBFA conducted by job coaches. Specifically, I will teach three graduate students to train job coaches to conduct a TBFA and measure the effects with a multiple probe single case design study. As such, this study aims to answer the following questions:

• Is there a functional relation between pyramidal BST and accurate training to conduct a TBFA training (trainer to job coach) in a contrived and natural setting (conference room and work setting)?

• What are the attitudes of graduate students and job coaches toward BST with respect to appropriateness and feasibility for assessing the challenging behavior of adults with ASD?

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