Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Applied Behavior Analysis Laboratory

07/17/12

J. Helen Yoo, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Head

[email protected]

The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Laboratory at IBR employs principles of behavior to address socially significant behaviors of individuals with developmental disabilities, with special emphasis on autism spectrum disorders. The laboratory is committed to understanding and changing clinically significant behaviors. The goal of the laboratory is to conduct applied research on the behavioral aspects of autism and other developmental disabilities and to disseminate our research findings through education of professionals and caregivers. While the primary focus of the laboratory is on the assessment and treatment of maladaptive behaviors and teaching functional skills, the general theme entails any behavioral topic that may hold promise for producing scientific information that could improve the lives of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Currently, the ABA laboratory, in collaboration with the Autism Treatment Laboratory, is collecting pilot data on the separate and combined effects of function-based interventions and medications on severe and chronic challenging behaviors (aggression, self-injury) of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. We hope to expand this project by conducting clinical trials in the future. 

In addition, the ABA laboratory is involved in a randomized, crossover placebo-controlled study examining the safety and effectiveness of high doses of a beta blocker to treat severe challenging behaviors in individuals with autism. 

The ABA laboratory recently completed a public school-based program funded by the NYS Education Department. In this program, all assessments and treatments targeting severe challenging behaviors were conducted in the student’s classroom in collaboration with teachers, staff, and caregivers. The primary objective was to obviate the need for more intensive services by providing empirically-based, short-term, intensive, and effective function-based behavior intervention. The results show that behavior-analytic interventions were effective in decreasing severe challenging behaviors and in preventing the need for more restrictive services. 

Regarding community service, the ABA Laboratory developed the “Targeting the Big Three” training curriculum for professionals and caregivers with a generous grant from Autism Speaks. This curriculum consists of a series of 5-6 weekly sessions focused on evidence-based techniques to improve behaviors such as aggression and self-injury, toileting, and food selectivity and refusal behaviors. It has been adopted by various voluntary agencies and schools.