Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Lise Fox, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Albert Duchnowski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Glen Dunlap, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ann Cranston-Gingras, Ph.D.


Component analysis, Early childhood, Family, Maintenance


In recent years, a central focus of the field of early intervention/early childhood special education has been to investigate ways to effectively support young children with challenging behavior and their families (Center for Evidence-Based Practice: Young Children with Challenging Behavior, 2003; DEC, 1999). Positive behavior support (PBS) is one of the most promising evidence-based practices for young children with challenging behavior and their families. The central purposes of PBS are to both help people develop and engage in socially desirable behaviors and to help minimize patterns of socially stigmatizing responding (Koegel, Koegel, & Dunlap, 1996).

Research documenting the utility and applicability of PBS with preschool-aged populations remain scarce, particularly within natural environments (e.g., Blair, Umbreit, & Eck, 2000; Duda, Dunlap, Fox, Clarke, & Lentini, 2004; Moes & Frea, 2000). Several gaps in the research remain, including studies incorporating natural intervention agents, natural settings, and studies measuring technical aspects of behavior change (e.g., maintenance). Though studies of maintenance may be difficult to execute, they may provide researchers with a greater understanding of which factors in the change process are most critical to successful implementation, as well as to enhance the “goodness of fit” between specific plan components and the ecology in which implementation occurs (Albin, Lucyshyn, Horner, & Flannery, 1996).

The purpose of this research study was to first assess the relationship of support plan components to behavior change, and then systematically fade the functional components, reducing the plan to naturalistic strategies that may be easy for the family to use over time. Results indicated each of the three child participants consistently maintained low levels of challenging behavior and high levels of engagement within each routine, despite the fact that clear functional relationships among individual intervention components were not attained. Procedural fidelity data indicated that intervention components were both implemented by the mother on a consistent basis and were easily adapted into natural family routines over time.