Excerpt from Magito McLaughlin, D. & Smith, C.E.(2017). Positive behavior support. In J. Matson (Ed.), Handbook of Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (pp. 437-457) Switzerland: Springer.
PBS presumes different outcomes than its ABA predecessors. For this reason, Carr (1997) suggested the need for a new applied science that addresses consumer needs more systematically and more frequently. With respect to assessment, methods must be user-friendly, feasible in the community, and yield accurate information. PBS challenges researchers to adopt greater flexibility in
their definition of what constitutes acceptable data. Moving beyond observations, PBS challenges researchers to consider the acceptability of naturalistic observations, correlational analyses, and qualitative data, including case studies, interviews, subjective rating scales, logs, questionnaires, and self-report measures, many of which have already been described.
Flexibility in scientific practice was illustrated by Carr & Carlson (1993) who presented an approach for remediating severe problem behavior in three adolescents with ASD in a public community setting, specifically a supermarket. Here, the authors noted that traditionally, interventions for problem behavior would be evaluated using measures of frequency and time sampling. These measures are especially appropriate in home and school settings where parents or professional staff monitor the problems. In these settings, there is an understanding that problem behavior is likely to occur in baseline and must be tolerated, at least in the short run, for purposes of assessment. However, no such tolerance exists in a public supermarket. Instead, even a relatively small number of instances of property destruction or aggression against other patrons can result in expulsion from the store or police action. Also, caretakers who accompany individuals with disabilities to the store may be embarrassed by public displays of problem behavior and therefore unlikely to agree to monitor progress using frequency or time sampling measures. In light of these practical
difficulties, Carr and Carlson (1993) suggested the need for alternative measures for use in public settings. Accordingly, they evaluated the utility of measures of latency to problem behavior and percentage of task completion as alternatives to measures of frequency and time sampling. The rationale for employing these measures was that, in the community, there would be less concern with overall rate or level of problem behavior and more concern with whether an individual could complete a shopping task in a reasonable amount of time and do so without engaging in problem behavior.