Research

Developing & Evaluating
Novel  Interventions
To Transform Lives

Halo Behavioral Health

Halo Behavioral Health is a cutting-edge research institute in Los Angeles, devoted to innovating, judiciously initiating, and rigorously evaluating novel interventions that hold promise for transforming the lives of others for the better.

Our research has been published in some of the top behavior analytic journals including the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Interventions, and more.

 

Research Department

Adel Najdowski

Adel Najdowski, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Adel Najdowski, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is Halo Behavioral Health’s Research Manager, as well as an Associate Professor and the Director of the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Pepperdine University.

Dr. Najdowski has worked with children with autism and their families since 1995. Dr. Najdowski has over 40 publications including her books, Flexible and Focused! Teaching Executive Function Skills to Individuals with Autism and Attention Disorders and A Workbook of Ethical Case Scenarios in Applied Behavior Analysis. She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Analysis in Practice and as a Guest Editor for a special issue in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and the disciplinary review committee (DRC) for the BACB.

Her research interests include social justice and teaching higher-order skills to individuals with autism. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and guest on podcasts and web-based shows.

Featured Research

PARENTAL ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT OF FOOD SELECTIVITY IN NATURAL SETTINGS

ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, MICHELE D. WALLACE, JANICE K. DONEY, AND PATRICK M. GHEZZI

This study evaluated the effects of a parent-conducted functional analysis and treatment consisting of differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior, escape extinction, and demand fading on food selectivity in a young child with autism. Increases in food acceptance at home and in a restaurant were obtained.
KEYWORDS: autism, demand fading, differential reinforcement, escape extinction, food selectivity, functional analysis

TEACHING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM TO IDENTIFY AND RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO THE PREFERENCES OF OTHERS DURING PLAY.

ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, MEGAN ST. CLAIR, JESSE A. FULLEN, AMELIA CHILD, ANGELA PERSICKE, AND JONATHON TARBOX

We observed three children with autism spectrum disorder during structured play dates in which play partners displayed interest or disinterest in the toys with which they were playing. We then taught subjects to identify play partners’ preferences and to make appropriate toy offers using a multiple‐exemplar training package consisting of rules, midplay preference questions, prompting, and praise with observed generalization across untrained partners.

KEYWORDS: autism, multiple exemplar training, perspective taking, preference, theory of mind

A SYSTEMATIC REPLICATION OF TEACHING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM TO RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO LURES FROM STRANGERS

RYAN BERGSTROM, ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, AND JONATHON TARBOX

We evaluated the effects of behavioral skills training in the home for teaching children with autism to abstain from going with strangers and immediately inform a familiar adult of the stranger’s attempt to lure them in the natural environment. All participants learned to respond correctly to lures in the home and demonstrated concomitant changes in untrained natural settings. In situ training and an added incentive were necessary for 1 participant.

KEYWORDS: abduction; autism; lure; prevention; saftey; stranger

TEACHING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM TO TELL SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE LIES
RYAN BERGSTROM, ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, MARISELA ALVARADO, AND JONATHAN TARBOX

This study used a nonconcurrent multiple baseline across participants design to evaluate the use of rules, role-play, and feedback for teaching 3 children with autism spectrum disorder to tell socially appropriate lies when (a) presented with an undesired gift and (b) someone’s appearance changed in an undesired way. The intervention was effective in teaching use of socially appropriate lies, and generalization to untrained people and gifts or appearances was observed.
KEYWORDS: autism, deception, lie, perspective taking, theory of mind

FUNCTIONAL ANALYSES AND TREATMENT OF PRECURSOR BEHAVIOR
ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, MICHELE D. WALLACE, CARRIE L. ELLSWORTH, ALICIA N. MACALEESE, AND JACKIE M. CLEVELAND

Functional analysis has been demonstrated to be an effective method to identify environmental variables that maintain problem behavior. However, there are cases when conducting functional analyses of severe problem behavior may be contraindicated. The current study applied functional analysis procedures to a class of behavior that preceded severe problem behavior (precursor behavior) and evaluated treatments based on the outcomes of the functional analyses of precursor behavior. Responding for all participants was differentiated during the functional analyses, and individualized treatments eliminated precursor behavior. These results suggest that functional analysis of precursor behavior may offer an alternative, indirect method to assess the operant function of severe problem behavior.

KEYWORDS: functional analysis, functional communication training, precursor behavior, response class, severe problem behavior

TEACHING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM TO SEEK HELP WHEN LOST IN PUBLIC
RYAN BERGSTROM, ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, AND JONATHAN TARBOX

Children with autism may not develop safety skills (e.g., help-seeking behaviors) without explicit teaching. One potentially hazardous situation is when a child with autism becomes separated from caregivers in a retail establishment or other public setting. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a treatment package (rules, role playing, and praise) delivered in the natural environment for teaching 3 boys with autism to seek assistance from store employees when they became lost. Treatment was effective, and help-seeking behaviors generalized to untrained stores for all participants.
KEYWORDS: assistance, autism, help seeking, lost, retail stores

TEACHING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM TO RESPOND TO DISGUISED MANDS

ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, RYAN BERGSTROM, JONATHAN TARBOX, AND MEGAN ST. CLAIR

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulty inferring the private events of others, including private verbal behavior (e.g., thoughts), private emotional responses, and private establishing operations, often referred to as perspective takingby the general psychol- ogy community. Children with ASD also have difficulty responding to disguised mands. Skin- ners description of the disguised mandis verbal behavior wherein the speakers mand directly describes neither its reinforcer nor the corresponding establishing operations. Appropriate responding to disguised mands is required for successful social interaction, making it a social skill worth teaching to children with ASD. We used a nonconcurrent multiple baseline across participants design to investigate the effects of a multiple exemplar training package consisting of rules, role play, and feedback for teaching three boys with ASD to respond to disguised mands. The intervention was effective and generalization to novel disguised mands and people was observed.

KEYWORDS: autism, disguised mands, multiple exemplar training, nonliteral language, perspective taking, theory of mind

UTILIZING A HOME-BASED PARENT TRAINING APPROACH IN THE TREATMENT OF FOOD SELECTIVITY
ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, MICHELE D. WALLACE, KARA REAGON, BECKY PENROD, THOMAS S. HIGBEE, AND JONATHAN TARBOX

Evaluating effects of utilizing parents as therapists for treating behavior problems has become increasingly important in the dissemination and practice of applied behavior analysis. However, home-based parent training approaches have been underused in treating feeding problems. In this study, mothers were trained to implement differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) combined with non-removal of the spoon and demand fading for the treatment of their childrens’ food selectivity. The procedures were highly effective and generalization to untargeted foods was observed. Parent procedural integrity and parent collected interobserver agreement (IOA) data remain high throughout the study. This study also demonstrated an effective method for systematically decreasing reinforcement magnitude and schedules in an effort to mimic traditional reinforcer delivery such as intermittently providing a dessert at the end of the meal. Finally, this study successfully increased a demand fading ratio of 50–150% without noticeable side effects.

EVALUATION OF A MULTICOMPONENT INTERVENTION FOR DIURNAL BRUXISM IN A YOUNG CHILD WITH AUTISM
EMILY L. BARNOY, ADEL C. NAJDOWSKI, JONATHAN TARBOX, ARTHUR E. WILKE, AND MEGAN D. NOLLET

Bruxism, forceful grinding of one’s teeth together, can produce destructive outcomes such as wear on the teeth and damaged gums and bone structures. The current study implemented a multicomponent intervention that consisted of vocal and physical cues to decrease rates of bruxism. A partial component analysis suggested that the vocal cue was only effective at decreasing levels of bruxism when paired with a simultaneous physical cue.

Are you interested in joining our research lab? 

We welcome motivated individuals interested in cultivating top-tier research with our team. Currently, our lines of research include:

  • Extending the reach of behavior analysis through the dissemination of behavior analytic principles in novel and complex settings with diverse populations and presenting problems
  • The treatment and analysis of complex human behavior and executive function
  • The development of effective and efficient behavior support strategies
  • Early intervention and prevention of developmental disabilities
  • Performance management and training for practitioners and support staff who contribute to the treatment of individuals in need

Contact us for more information.

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15335 Morrison Street #320

Sherman Oaks, California  91403-6709

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