Problem Behavior: The Development of a Contextual Assessment Inventory for Use by Families
Many children with autism engage in serious problem behavior such as aggression, self-injury, tantrums, property destruction, and high levels of disruption. These behaviors harm the quality of life for the families involved and prevent the child from being successfully integrated into the neighborhood school, peer social group, local community, and later in life, the workplace. Therefore, it is important to reduce or eliminate problem behavior. Research has shown that systematic assessment of the factors that set off problem behavior can produce information that is very helpful in designing effective treatment intervention. However, assessment is often a time-consuming, laborious process that is difficult for families and their service providers to perform in typical community contexts such as the home. Therefore, the purpose of the proposed research is to develop an efficient, user-friendly inventory that can be employed to help families identify the full range of factors that are involved in the child’s problem behavior. The Contextual Assessment Inventory (CAI) is designed to capture, in a simple format, what is known, from the current research literature, about the factors associated with problem behavior. With the help of a professional, families fill out the CAI at home. The factors involved may be biological in nature (e.g., illness-related, side effects of medication.) They may be social in nature (e.g., being teased, not being able to communicate about one’s needs.) Or, they may be related to some aspect of ongoing activities or routines (e.g., having to wait for something desirable, being asked to carry out a disliked chore.) An information module will be developed so that the data from the CAI can be used by families and their service providers to systematically select effective, relevant, evidence-based treatment interventions that currently exist in the published clinical and educational literature.