Current Research Areas
Studies in the area of pediatric feeding problems aim to evaluate best practices in assessment, treatment, parent training and longitudinal outcomes of behavioral strategies designed to increase healthy eating as well as decrease problem behavior associated with mealtime routines.
Methods of identifying reinforcing stimuli have proven to be useful in working with individuals who cannot effectively communicate their own preferences. Our lab is currently conducting research in this area. We are evaluating relative preference for food and toys, the way food preferences can change over time as the result of intervention, and methods of identifying reinforcing social interactions for individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities.
Skill Acquisition and Verbal Behavior
Our lab is conducting a number of research studies concerning the best ways to teach new skills to children with autism spectrum disorder. We are currently evaluating instructional strategies aimed at improving early language skills (verbal behavior) and meeting important developmental milestones, such as responding to name and imitation. Our evaluations focus on identifying which teaching strategies are the most effective and efficient for learners with autism spectrum disorder.
Functional Communication Training
Functional Communication Training (FCT) is reported to be the most commonly prescribed function-based intervention. However, one major limitation of FCT is that some individuals may request reinforcement at an exceedingly high rate. Honoring high-rate requests may not only be impractical, but also undesirable, as the continuous delivery of preferred items can result in poor health outcomes or the disruption of daily activities. Further, and most importantly, delayed or denied reinforcement of communication can lead to the resurgence of dangerous behavior. One approach to target this issue has been to systematically thin the schedule of reinforcement through a multiple schedule. Our lab is currently working on a few projects evaluating variations of multiple schedules to determine which is most efficacious to produce discriminated requests and maintain low levels of dangerous behavior.
Functional Analysis of Problem Behavior
Assessment and treatment of problem behavior is often necessary because individuals with disabilities frequently engage in serious and sometimes harmful behaviors. To evaluate why the behavior is occurring, we conduct a functional analysis to identify the function of the target behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injury). After identifying the behavior’s function, interventions are implemented to reduce the target behavior and teach an alternative, appropriate behavior (e.g., vocal requests, picture-exchange). After successful reduction of the target behavior and an increase in the alternative behavior, caregivers are taught how to implement treatment with high fidelity to ensure the target behavior remains low while appropriate behavior persists across contexts (e.g., home, clinic).
Organizational Behavior Management
For More Information
The Behavior Analysis Research Clinic places an emphasis on empirically validated treatment evaluations. Clinical services are provided to children and their families at the BARC regardless of participation in research studies. Participation in research is completely optional for all BARC clients and their families. No compensation is provided to participants for participation in research studies.
If you have any questions or would like more information about our research studies or research program, please contact us. Additional information about research procedures at the University of Florida can be obtained by contacting the UF-IRB office.