6 June  (Thursday)

Part 1: Functional Assessment of Severe Problem Behavior: A Focus on a Safer, Faster, and More Effective Process

Abstract: Behavioral intervention can be effective for addressing problem behavior like meltdowns, self-injury, and aggression, especially when a functional assessment of the problem is conducted to determine why the problem behavior is occurring. A number of myths regarding the functional assessment process, which appear to be pervasive within different research and practice communities, will be reviewed in the context of a series of empirical evaluations demonstrating the effectiveness and social validation of a particular functional assessment process. Through lecture, interactive discussion, and role play, attendees should be able to conduct interviews to discover synthesized reinforcement contingencies that may be influencing problem behavior and then design and implement safe, fast, and effective functional analyses from the interviews to determine the legitimacy of suspected reinforcement contingencies.


  1. An attendee should be able to describe the conditions under which the different types of functional assessment (closed and open-ended indirect assessments, formal and informal descriptive assessments, functional analyses) should and should not be used when attempting to understand why problem behavior is occurring.
  2. An attendee will be able to describe multiple tactics to improve the safety and efficiency of the functional assessment process, especially the functional analysis part of the process.
  3. An attendee will be able to describe various tactics for efficiently determining whether different topographies of problem behavior are influenced by the same reinforcing contingency.
  4. An attendee should be able to defend the practice of relying on synthesized reinforcement contingencies when functionally analyzing problem behavior and articulate the advantages of functional control over functional classification.

Part 2: Treating Severe Problem Behavior: A Focus on Strengthening Socially Important Behavior 

Abstract: The success of treatments for problem behaviors like meltdowns, self-injury, or aggression is largely dependent on whether the treatment is based on the function the problem behavior serves for the person with autism. But because of the seemingly obligatory focus on detecting the impact of single variables in good behavior analytic research, effective behavioral technology is often fractured across studies, resulting in a dearth of studies showing socially valid improvements in these problem behaviors and an absence of studies illustrating the treatment process from start to finish. In this session, an effective, comprehensive, and parent-validated treatment process for problem behavior will be described.  The comparative research that underscores the importance of focusing on the skills of communication, toleration, and contextually appropriate behavior will be reviewed. The logistics of implementing this treatment in a variety of contexts that differ in personnel will be discussed.


  1. An attendee will be able to describe strategies for teaching individuals with severe problem behavior to engage in an omnibus communication response and then procedures for differentiating the response so that a communication repertoire is established.
  2. An attendee will be able to describe the key components of strategies for teaching individuals with severe problem behavior to tolerate both delays to and denials of reinforcers previously maintaining their problem behavior.
  3. An attendee should be able to describe how contextually appropriate behavior (compliance, independent academic work and play) may be shaped and maintained during variable and sometimes long delays to the reinforcers that historically maintained problem behavior.
  4. An attendee should be able to describe the system for transferring the effects of treatment to relevant people, contexts, and time periods as well as procedures for maintaining the effects.

7 June  (Friday )

Part 1:  Minimizing risk while expanding the reach of functional analysis and reinforcement-based treatments

Abstract:The conduct of functional analyses with individuals who engage in severe problem behavior may be prohibited due to perceived risks associated with evoking problem behavior, which is inevitable during a successful functional analysis and likely during typical treatments which rely on extinction and differential reinforcement. Several studies that have implications for analysis safety will be reviewed first, and the most important safety considerations will be conveyed. An evaluation of an “enhanced choice” model for minimizing risks during treatment will then be reviewed. In this model, five participants were continually provided with options to (a) enter a therapeutic context in which evocative situations were repeatedly presented while a replacement repertoire was shaped via differential reinforcement, (b) enter a “hangout” context in which reinforcers were freely available (i.e., the evocative situations were absent), or (c) leave the therapeutic context altogether (e.g., return home or to classroom). Socially validated outcomes were achieved with all participants; severe problem behavior never occurred for three participants and rarely occurred for two participants. The choice data and reasons why children may choose to participate in effective treatment will be presented and discussed along with the implications of these procedures for expanding the reach of behavior analysts.


  1. An attendee will be able to describe strategies for implementing the PFA process without any physical prompting and without restricting access to the reinforcers controlling problem behavior.
  2. An attendee will be able to describe the various methods for incorporating choice into the model in which skills are developed following a practical functional assessment
  3. An attendee should be able to describe the behavioral processes operating when a children or clients with stron language repertoires elect to participate in their own therapy in which the situation that reliably evoke severe problem behavior are emulated and relied upon to develop skill repertoires.

Part 2: Process Implementation: Supported Activity

Abstract:Attendeeswill practice both interviewing and designing analyses and treatment processes

  1. We will have teams conduct interviews and design analyses for the interviews.
  2. We will review safety and logistics of implementation of created analyses.
  3. We will rely on a few example clients from the above process to describe the decisions that will affect the differential implementation of treatment.


  1. An attendee will be able to identify the suspected response class, establishing operations, and synthesized reinforcers from conducted interviews.
  2. An attendee will be able to design personalized and implementable analyses from the interview conducted.
  3. An attendee will be able to describe the manner in which the skill-shaping process will be implemented and describe the advantages and disadvantages of expert driven versus collaborative approaches as well as massed versus distributed dosages of treatment process.

About our Speaker

Dr. HanleyDr. Hanley has been applying the principles of learning to improve socially important behaviors of children and adults with and without disabilities just under 30 years.  He worked and trained at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, was degreed at the University of Florida, was tenured at the University of Kansas, and directed the Behavior Analysis Doctoral Program and Life Skills Clinic at Western New England University (WNEU).

Dr. Hanley has published over 100 book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals in areas such as the assessment and prevention of problem behavior, teaching tactics for young children, and evidence-based values.  Dr. Hanley is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Div. 25), past Associate Editor of The Behavior Analyst, and past Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysisand of Behavior Analysis in Practice.

He currently serves as a Research Professor at WNEU, an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and CEO of FTF Behavioral, an international training and consulting group based in Worcester Massachusetts.  This group of researcher-practitioners supports professionals attempting to create meaningful outcomes with practical functional assessment processes and skill-based treatments.

Timetable for Both Days

9:00-9:30 Registration

9:30-11:30 Morning Session

11:30-1:00 Lunch

1:00-3:00 Afternoon Session A

3:00-3:30 Break

3:30-5:30 Afternoon Session B

Continuing Education

6 BACB Type 2 CEUs available for each day (included in registration fee)

Bookings Close

Please book by 5PM on May 31st 2019.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Refund requests must be received in writing to [email protected] no later than 10 working days prior to the first day of the event.  All refunds are subject to a £15 administration fee.  We will not refund registration fees for requests received after the deadline.

  • June 6, 2019 - June 7, 2019
    9:00 am - 5:30 pm
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