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The relationship between derived mutually entailed relations and the function of challenging behavior in children with autism: Comparing the PEAK-E-PA and the QABF

Special Issue on Conceptual Developments in Relational Frame Theory: Research and Practice


Jordan Belisle, Caleb R. Stanley, & Mark R. Dixon


The study evaluated the relationship between participants’ abilities to derive mutually entailed relations across arbitrary stimuli and the function of their challenging behavior as indicated in the Questions About Behavior Function (QABF) indirect assessment. Entailed relational abilities were assessed using the Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge Equivalence Pre-Assessment (Dixon, 2015), and assessments were conducted across 47 individuals with autism or a related developmental disability. The results indicated that overall scores generated by the QABF were significantly lower for participants who could derive mutually entailed and/or combinatorially entailed relations (t (44) = 2.468, p < .05), and that in a greater proportion of cases, the QABF failed to isolate a single behavior function for individuals who could derive either mutually entailed or combinatorially entailed relations (χ 2 (1, N = 47) = 3.166, p < .05). The ability to derive entailed relations was not predictive of any specific challenging behavior topography (χ 2 (3, N = 47) = 6.251, p > .05) and was only related to scores on the Physical subscale of the QABF (t (24) = 3.37, p < .05). The results have implications for the assessment and treatment of individuals with autism, as well add to the development of a conceptual understanding of relational abilities and challenging behavior in this population.

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