International Meeting for Autism Research: Effect of Negative Behaviors on the Achievement of Education Goals In Individuals with Autism Receiving Intensive Behavioral Intervention

Effect of Negative Behaviors on the Achievement of Education Goals In Individuals with Autism Receiving Intensive Behavioral Intervention

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
9:00 AM
R. A. Embacher1, T. W. Frazier2, C. Vires3, M. Vallinger1, L. Speer3, A. Sinoff1, F. Dimitriou1 and A. Newman1, (1)Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism, Cleveland, OH, (2)Center for Autism and Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, (3)Center for Autism, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

Behaviors such as tantrums, aggression, inappropriate verbalizations, and others can directly interfere with learning new skills. While this is well accepted in the education of individuals with ASD, the exact impact on educational progress is less clear. Examining the relationship between behavior intervention plans (BIP) and educational progress may help to better focus the educational planning process. To the authors’ knowledge, no previous studies have examined the impact of the treatment of challenging behavior on educational progress.


The present study examines the impact of BIP implementation on the proportion of educational goals achieved over the 2008-2009 school year. Secondarily, the effect of BIP implementation on specific educational domains was evaluated.


Participants included 64 children who were enrolled in the school program at Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism (CCCA). A year round program implementing the methodology of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) served as the child’s primary education and treatment setting. Participants received at least 11 months of intensive behavioral intervention. Total number of educational goals and objectives was determined by reviewing each child’s individualized education program or curriculum plan. Goals were tallied and categorized according to 4 domains: academic content, communication, independent living skills, and other (e.g. physical education, fine motor skills). Progress and achievement was determined through annual reviews and progress reports. Progress was defined by completing at least 50% of an annual goal, while achievement was defined by completing 100% of a goal.


There were no significant differences between BIP groups for the proportion of total educational goals achieved (F(1,62)=2.57, p=.215) or for the proportion of educational goals showing progress (F(1,62)=2.57, p=.215). However, in each case, the trend was consistent with expectation and may suggest reduced power to detect a small or medium-sized effect. In looking at specific educational goals, there was a marginally significant difference between the BIP groups for the proportion of academic content goals achieved (p=.057).  Students without a BIP had higher levels of academic content goal achievement than individuals with one or more BIPs. Post-hoc comparisons indicated a significant differences in the proportion of academic content goals achieved between individuals with no BIP and individuals with 2 or more BIP (p=.049). Students with 1 BIP fell in between and were not significantly different from the other groups. There were no statistically significant group differences across other educational domains (p>.10).


BIP are often needed to reduce serious and functionally impairing behavior and the present data suggest that the presence of these plans may not interfere with progress on most types of educational goals. The only exception was reduced achievement of educational goals where academic content was the focus. It is possible though that this finding simply reflects differences in baseline severity, with more severely affected students requiring BIP(s) and also showing less progress on academic content. If confirmed by future observational and randomized studies, it will be important to consider possible slowed progress on academic content goals when implementing a BIP.

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