Challenging behaviour is a form of communication, behaviour is maintained by its contact with the contingencies involved. One of the ways we can understand and help treat the function of challenging behaviour is to carry out a function based assessment. Often it is not advisable to ‘evoke’ challenging behaviour and behaviour analysts are always trying to find suitable ways to help understand the function of problem behaviour but to minimise risks associated with challenging behaviour. One of the ways we can do this to to work on precursor behaviours (which are part of the same response class), use non-contingent approaches to prevent the need for the challenging behaviour or use th indirect approaches which do not evoke the challenging behaviour. However, without an idea of the function this behaviour has for the individual we might run the risk of not fully understanding how to teach appropriate replacement skills (communication) for the individual and thus one of the ways around this is the IISCA (Interview-Informed Synthesized Contingency Analysis). This is a behaviour analysis assessment tool that helps identify specific reinforcers and combinations of reinforcers that evoke and maintain problem behaviour. Rather than testing all the functions of behaviour it uses just two conditions for a very brief period of time and it involves testing these conditions to understand the function of the behaviour so we can promote functional communication, delay and denial tolerance, and contextually appropriate behaviours.
Here are the key components of the IISCA:
- Control Condition: The assessment always starts with a control condition where the individual has access to the desired material or toy without any specific requirements.
- Life is Good Condition (this is the control condition): In this condition, suspected reinforcers are provided noncontingently and consistently, essentially creating a “life is good” scenario where the individual receives access to preferred items without engaging in problem behaviour.
- Test Condition: The test condition involves synthesizing reinforcers for about 30 seconds, during which problem behaviour is likely to occur.
- Access to Reinforcer: Immediately following the problem behaviour, the individual should have access to the reinforcer for about 20-40 seconds.
- Session Duration: Each session should last between 3 to 5 minutes, and it should simply alternate between test and control conditions.
- Termination Criteria: The assessment should be terminated when the problem behaviour significantly elevates in the test condition and is absent in the control condition.
Two conditions are typically assessed during the IISCA:
- Escaping Demands to Access Toys: This condition assesses problem behaviour that occurs when the individual tries to escape demands in order to gain access to toys or preferred items.
- Accessing Toys with Attention: This condition assesses problem behaviour that occurs when the individual tries to access toys while seeking attention from others.
Other conditions may include:
- Escaping to Engage in Stereotypy: This condition assesses problem behaviour that occurs when the individual engages in repetitive and stereotyped behaviors to escape from tasks or social demands.
- Automatic Reinforcement with Toys: This condition assesses problem behavior that occurs when the individual engages in the behaviour because the behaviour itself is reinforcing (e.g., repetitive behaviours that provide sensory stimulation).
- Escaping to Access Rituals: This condition assesses problem behaviour that occurs when the individual tries to escape from activities or tasks in order to engage in specific rituals or routines.
- IISCA always start with control condition- have material available
- Provide suspected reinforcers noncontingently consistently- life is good condition.
- Test condition synthesised reinforcers for about 30s.
- Immediately following problem behaviour
- Individual should have access to reinforcer for about 20-40s
- Session should be 3-5 minutes in duration and simply alternate between test and control conditions
- Terminate when behaviour elevated in test condition and zero in control
Escaping demands to access toys
Accessing toys with attention
Escaping to engage in stereotypy
Automatic reinforcement with toys
Escaping to access rituals
Therefore, we just need to know specific reinforcers and combinations of those reinforcers
That evoke and maintain problem behaviour.
This approach helps us to:
To identify specific reinforcers and combinations of those reinforcers, the IISCA assesses how problem behaviour changes in different conditions. By understanding the functions of problem behaviour, behaviour analysts can design interventions to promote functional communication, delay and denial tolerance, and contextually appropriate behaviours. The goal is to replace problem behaviour with more adaptive and socially acceptable alternatives.
Treatment Interventions After IISCA
Functional communication skills:
- requesting assistance appropriately (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013; Kasari et al., 2005, Kasari et al., 2015)
- requesting attention appropriately (Hanley et al., 2007; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013; Kasari et al., 2005, Kasari et al., 2015)
- requesting a desired item, activity, or situation appropriately (Bowman et al., 1997; Carr & Durand, 1985; Durand & Merges, 2001; Durand & Moskowitz, 2015; Kasari et al. 2015; Rispoli et al., 2014; Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008)
- framed requesting to adults and peers (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013)
- protesting or rejecting an undesired item, activity, or situation appropriately (Mace et al., 2011; Martin et al., 2005; Sigafoos et al., 2004)Compliance skills:
- responding appropriately to name (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Beaulieu et al., 2012; Kraus et al., 2012)
- following single-step and multi-step instructions (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Beaulieu et al., 2012; Kraus et al., 2012)
- tolerating delays imposed by adults and peers (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013)Pro-social skills:
- initiating joint attention (Kasari et al., 2005, Kasari et al., 2015)
- engaging in functional and symbolic play (Kasari et al., 2005, Kasari et al., 2015)
- jointly engaging in positive social initiations with others, including play organizers,sharing, displaying affection, providing assistance to peers (Kasari et al., 2005, Kasariet al., 2015; Strain, 1983)
- responding consistently to the overtures of peers (Strain, 1983)
- saying, “Thank you” (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013)
- acknowledging and complimenting others (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski &Hanley, 2013)
- offering or sharing materials (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013)
- comforting others in distress (Hanley et al., 2007, 2014; Luczynski & Hanley, 2013)
- demonstrating appropriate conversational skills (Frankel et al., 2010)
- appropriately entering and leaving group situations (Frankel et al., 2010)
- displaying good sportsmanship (Frankel et al., 2010)
- handling teasing (Frankel et al., 2010)
- understanding the specific skills involved in developing networks of friends (Frankelet al., 2010)
Resources to carry out IISCA & use alongside treatment:
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