As we enter the beginning of the school year, I want to go over my 20...
Episode #112: Practical Functional Assessment with Dr. Cory Whelan
Dr. Corey Whelan, SLP-BCBA joins me in this episode to discuss a really important assessment for autistic individuals that can add to compassionate care across the lifespan.
PFA allows for the safe evaluation of dangerous behavior without the need to witness it. Instead, the focus is on reinforcing non-dangerous, early responses in the chain of behavior, with the ultimate goal of providing a skills-based therapy process to treat problematic behavior. Three critical skills are emphasized in treatment with the PFA: functional communication training, tolerating disappointment when a response is not reinforced, and cooperating with adult-directed instruction during a delay.
Behavior Analysts looking for training in PFA can do so through online courses or by seeking mentorship from the center of the company they work with. PFA is ideal for individuals who are making minimal gains in therapy but behavior barriers remain a concern, or for new clients engaging in problem behavior prior to starting therapy.
It’s important to note that the purpose of PFA is not to understand why a behavior is occurring, but to treat it and prevent it, leading to more effective therapy. By breaking through barriers, individuals can access their optimal learning environment, allowing them to make the most of their therapy sessions.
Dr. Cory Whelan graduated from The George Washington University with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in speech-language pathology and studied applied behavior analysis at UMASS Boston. A Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and a Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst (LABA), he obtained his doctoral degree in behavior analysis at Western New England University under the advisement of Dr. Gregory Hanley. His clinical experience includes delivering speech and behavior analytic services in public schools, private residential schools, and adult day programs.
Cory serves as the Director of Clinical Services for the Developmental Services and Brain Injury divisions at Vinfen, a multi-state human service agency for people with mental health conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and behavioral health challenges. In his role, he oversees all clinical systems and service delivery for day and residential programs. Cory is passionate about the delivery of compassionate and effective ABA services across the lifespan.
His research interests include the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior, training staff to implement Practical Functional Assessments and Skills-Based Treatments, and evaluating strategies for delivering effective services that result in long-term, generalized effects. His research has been published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA), Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Child and Family Behavior Therapy. He has served as a guest reviewer for several behavior analytic journals including JABA, Behavioral Interventions, Behavior Analysis in Practice, and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
- What is the PFA and the steps involved?
- How IISCA influences therapy response.
- Three critical skills for treatment after PFA.
- Breaking barriers and providing access to the optimal therapy environment.
Mentioned In This Episode
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