ABAI Paris conference welcomes large CBA contingent

The Centre for Behaviour Analysis at Queen’s was well represented by approx 15-20 MScABA and PhD students, as well as post-docs and staff members, at the 9th International Conference of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) in Paris, France in November. Presentations covered early diagnosis and preventive interventions for infants with autism, behavioural safety, evoking vocals with non-verbal children with autism, teaching toileting skills, comparing ABA practices in the UK and China, policy-changing practices of an NGO of families in France, using ABA to help veterans, and the use of technology for teaching reading to children with severe learning disabilities. 

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Bringing ABA to the community in the Czech Republic

Professor Karola Dillenburger was at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, to teach the 3rd Registered Behaviour Technician course.  Since 2015, her regular visits to the Czech Republic have been part of the EU funded Erasmus+ exchange programme between Queen's University and Masaryk University, with the aim of bringing the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to the Czech Republic. 

On this occasion, 100 students attended her lectures. Profesoor Dillenburger also attended the opening seminar of the Skola Lyckova, the first ABA School in the Czech Republic, in Prague, with staff and parents and local academics. She will return to Masaryk Uni in the Spring of 2018 to continue to deliver the first Czech BACBA validated course sequence, to prepare local students to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts. 

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User-centered reading interventions for individuals with autism and intellectual disability

Dr Anita Yakkundi CBA ASSISTID Fellow at CBA co-authored a conference paper on user-centered reading interventions for individuals with autism and intellectual disability, which was published as a chapter in the e-book series “Studies in Health Technologies and Informatics. Individuals with autism and intellectual disability (ID) have complex learning needs and often have difficulty in acquiring reading comprehension skills using conventional teaching tools. Evidence based reading interventions for these learners and the use of assistive technology and application of behaviour analysis to develop user-centered teaching is discussed in this paper. Yakkundi, A., Dillenburger, K., Goodman, L. & Dounavi, A. (2017). User Centered Reading Intervention for Individuals with Autism and Intellectual Disability. Netherlands: IOS Press, Vol. 242, p. 249-256 8 p. (Studies in Health Technology and Informatics; vol. 242)

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Centre colleagues' input at AAATE conference

The Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe held its bi-annual conference in Sheffield recently.  Two of our Centre for Behaviour Analysis post-doctoral fellows presented their research in the AssistID fellowship group.  Dr Anita Yakkundi presented her work on iCanRead, an Applied Behaviour Analysis-based computer reading system for children with Autism, and Trish MacKeogh outlined her work on developing an interactive multimodal assessment tool for children with intellectual disabilities.

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Paper based on MScABA research published in prestigious journal

The Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research has just published a paper based on research conducted as part of our MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis. The paper, entitled It’s mine! Using clicker training as a treatment of object guarding in four companion dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), is based onNicole Pfaller-Sadovsky's MScABA dissertation. Nicole's research was supervised by Dr Camilo Hurtado-Parrado, Konrad Lorenz University (Colombia).

Aggressive behaviours in companion dogs are a serious problem to owners, which often result in important physical and emotional damage on the victims. Aggressive incidents frequently happen during human-dog interactions (i.e. reaching toward the dog or petting it) while the dog is engaging with a preferred item (e.g. a toy, sock or shoe). The current study investigated whether a clicker-training approach, backward chaining, could decrease the frequency of category-II (e.g. ears flattened and/or hovering over object) and category-III (e.g. staring and/or stiffening up) behaviors by establishing an alternative target response of releasing preferred item on cue.

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Trish MacKeogh (ASSISTID Fellow at CBA) invited to present at WHO conference in Geneva

The Global Research, Innovation, and Education in Assistive Technology (GREAT) Summit took place on the 3–4 August 2017 at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The Summit brought together 150 top global researchers, innovators and educators who carry out research or offer training programmes related to assistive technology policy, products, personnel, provision and use.

This emanates from the WHO Global priority research agenda to further the aims of GATE. The theme was central to research being carried out by ASSISTID programme and ASSISTID fellows Trish MacKeogh and Fleur Boot were invited to participate.

This research was supported by funding from the charity RESPECT and the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement no. PCOFUND-GA-2013-608728’

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Viva success for Smita Awasthi

Smita Awasthi successfully defended her PhD thesis recently.  Entitled ‘Emergence of Vocalization in Non Vocal Children with a Diagnoses of Autism: Building An Evidence Base for Interventions’, Smita's study spanned five years and reviewed the technologies developed for the emergence of speech in non-vocal children with autism.  It examined the effectiveness of sign mand training, intraverbal training, the role of ‘stimulus : stimulus’ pairing and motivating operations in inducing first instances of speech in non-vocal children on the autism spectrum.

A total of 126 non-vocal children between the ages 1.4 years to 13.5 years participated in four experiments that used delayed multiple baseline design across subjects.  The technologies were effective in inducing first instances of speech in 83% participants.  The time to vocalization, vocals across operants, type of vocal emergence, age of vocalization and the relative successes of the technologies used are all explored.

Dr Smita Awasthi was a distant learning PhD student in the School, conducting her research right across India.  She took part in the viva via Skype.  Her External Examiner was Dr Olive Healy (Trinity College Dublin) and her Internal Examiner was Dr Katerina Dounavi (School of SSESW, Queen’s University Belfast).

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Dr Yini Liao - viva success

Yini successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention for Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparative Study between Practices and Policies in the UK and China. Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI), which is under the umbrella of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), is an established treatment method for young children with ASD. This study focuses on how ABA-based intervention is applied, in terms of relevant policies and practices. In particular, the application of EIBI in China and the UK is critically examined within the cultural, medical and social context of the two countries. In order to achieve the research aims, mixed methods will be used to collect data in this cross-cultural investigation. This research contributes to understanding issues in an increasingly multi-cultural and connected society.

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Autism Behaviour Intervention Association (ABIA) Conference

Melbourne, Australia – a Keynote address and Masterclass were delivered by Professor Karola Dillenburger. During the keynote, Karola talked about how we must expect more in terms of caring for children with autism across their lifespan; addressing issues, practice and future planning. By providing a full life-span approach, results reported here build on and extend a body of previous research regarding the experiences and needs of ageing parent/caregivers of sons and daughters with disability (Dillenburger & McKerr, 2009a; 2009b; 2010) and younger parents/caregivers of children with disability (Dillenburger & Keenan et al., 2010; 2011; Keenan & Dillenburger, et al., 2007; 2010). Furthermore, the results illustrate the consequences of current ageing and childcare strategies as experienced by parent/caregivers and their sons/daughters with disabilities, thus enabling policy makers and professionals to ‘hear the data’. Recommendations are formulated for future childcare and ageing caregiver strategies, policies, and practice.

Karola also delivered a 3-hour Masterclass on Behavioural Parent Training (BPT) for professionals who are involved in training parents to alter their child’s behaviour at home. As ABA professionals and therapists, we know the importance and value of parental involvement in children’s learning and development. Karola took delegates further into this topic, offering information and tips on the theory, practice, and evidence of BPT.

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World Autism Awareness Day 2017 Event at CBA

On 3 April visiting scholar in the Centre for Behaviour Analysis Dr Anita Yakkundi (ASSISTID Fellow UCD/QUB) presented her work on 'I Can Read: using technology to learn to read for children with autism' to a full house of delegates from various autism agencies, disability organisations, students, and parents of children with autism

Individuals with autism spectral disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability often encounter problems with reading and comprehension. This limits their social, communication and employment prospects impacting on the quality of life of the affected individuals and their caregivers. Due to their complex learning abilities, they are unable to acquire literacy skills using the standard reading programs. An individualised and user friendly technology is required to enable learning. Touch screen gadgets are user friendly devices for most individuals with ASD and presenting them with a reading program on such a gadget makes learning interactive and engaging.

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RBT course in Czech Republic

The second course for Registered Behaviour Technicians (RBT) took place in Brno, Czech Republic, attended by over 40 professionals and Masters students.  Professor Karola Dillenburger, who is part of the course teaching team, delivered training with a focus on Functional Assessment and Behavioural Observation skills. 

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Why Applied Behaviour Analysis Conference in Bratislava, Slovakia

An ABA conference and workshop took place in Bratislava, Slovakia, organised by parents and attended by approximately 150 parents of children with autism and professionals.  Professor Karola Dillenburger delivered a number of keynote addresses focusing on the Scientific Evidence of ABA and Parent Training.

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MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis - Spring Term workshops

On-campus workshops were held for MScABA students. The MSc Applied Behaviour Analysis is largely taught online.  However, once a term our students come to Belfast to meet, discuss and learn together.  These workshops are attended by MScABA students from all over the world including UK, Ireland, Bahrain, Indonesia and El Salvador.


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