Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
Each presenter has a vast experience of providing services and support to individuals with autism. While each is a licensed psychologist and each has a private practice to boast, their journeys to this common path of collaboration has varied with respect to the emphasis of their supports for people with autism. Sheila Merzer, a practitioner providing expertise on the ‘core features’ and characteristic profiles of the diagnosis of autism well before the disorder was known to many. Jan Ostrom, a practitioner providing expertise on the assessment and analysis of behaviors and behavior change. Each practitioner, looking through a different lens of support, has called on the other, expounding on the concerns and support needs of specific individuals. In a conjoined effort, they have provided services to specific individuals (assessment, intervention, and training), provided general consultation to educational programs, and provided training to other practitioners.
From the riches of different perspectives, these presenters will provide a discussion for completing a ‘comprehensive’ assessment of behaviors. In doing so, they will cover a description of concerning behaviors, identify different variables that influence and evoke them, and outline a number of interventions – proactive and reactive, for addressing them. In describing behaviors, participants will be able to distinguish the description of behaviors from the emotions and feelings in response to the behaviors. In identifying different variables that influence and evoke behaviors, participants will be provided information of the Personal Characteristics and Internally Motivated variables that influence behaviors, and of the Externally (socially) Motivated variables that evoke behaviors. Aligned with this latter category of variables, the four common social functions of behaviors will be reviewed. Finally, an outline of various interventions to address behaviors will distinguish proactive and reactive strategies.
Learning objectives for participants attending this session have been identified, and include:
Participants will be able to identify four primary social functions of behavior;
Participants will be able to describe three types of variables that influence and/or evoke behaviors;
Based on assessment information available, participants will be able to develop three strategies – proactive or reactive, to address challenging behaviors.
This presentation is intended to address a more sophisticated or knowledge based audience, for different reasons. Sheila Merzer, has conducted assessments in gaining information towards the diagnosis of autism, the processing of information, and the function of behaviors. She will present information with a heightened sensitivity towards language processing (and processing deficits), confounding and contributing to behavioral assessments. Jan Ostrom, has conducted numerous behavioral assessments in identifying the variables that influence and evoke the problematic and challenging behaviors. In these efforts, she has and will present considerations for assessment that includes though exceeds the common four social functions. Therefore, while the outcome is greater information in conducting a ‘comprehensive assessment’ of behavior, the presentation is for practitioners and colleagues knowledgeable of ‘status quo’ activities. In efforts to enhance key points of the presentation for participants, these presenters will provide video-taped illustrations of variables identified in assessment (findings) and interventions (strategies).
Content Area: Behavior
Jan Ostrom, M.S., BCBA
Sheila Merzer, M.A., L.P.